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Fear No Evil Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Fear No Evil Large

Written and directed by Frank LaLoggia
1981, 99 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 24th, 2019

Starring:
Stefan Arngrim as Andrew Williams
Elizabeth Hoffman as Margaret
Kathleen Rowe McAllen as Julie
Frank Birney as Father Daly
Daniel Eden as Tony
Roslyn Gugino as Marie

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Review:

Andrew Williams has just celebrated his eighteenth birthday and is going through some changes. He is a shy, introverted kid who gets good grades but is bullied at school and doesn’t have a lot of friends. He is attracted to Julie, but she already has a boyfriend and is a little afraid of Andrew. Elsewhere in the community, Margaret, a deeply religious older woman, is haunted by the death of her brother, a priest convicted of murder. Margaret frequents the church confessional with her emotional concerns until the local priest tells her to stop bothering him. She is aware of a prophecy that Lucifer will be reborn on earth in human form and that God has sent three angels to defeat him. The identities of these beings are concealed from their hosts until they emerge and become dominant. What follows is an epic showdown of good vs. evil as the devil grows in strength and the wrath of God rains down on the community.

Fear No Evil (1981) marks the feature debut of writer/director Frank LaLoggia (Lady in White), who catches the tail of the religious horror trend of the 1970s. This is an ambitious movie that mixes spiritual themes with teen angst and supernatural elements that unfold at a deliberate pace, teasing out a larger mystery. Taking inspiration in part from The Omen franchise with a touch of Carrie, Lucifer roams the halls of the local high school developing a huge chip on his shoulder. His behavior grows more alarming as he becomes aware of his identity and his powers manifest. The angel plotline is a world away from high school before a forced reveal in the second half unites the threads in an awfully convenient manner.

Stefan Arngrim (Class of 1984) stars as Andrew Williams, the troubled teen antichrist. He broods and sulks and struggles with his identity like many a high-school student, but finds himself losing control of his actions to an untapped evil. He does a fine job in the role and carries much of the picture with relative ease. Elizabeth Hoffman (Silent Night, Deadly Night 3) co-stars as his foil, Margaret, a woman with a few powerful secrets of her own. Hoffman lends the film a gravitas lacking in the high-school thread, bringing a more mature spin on the material. Kathleen Rowe McAllen (Aspects of Love) makes her big-screen debut as Julie, the attractive young woman Margaret mentors in the battle of good and evil. She brings an innocence that really works and makes her character stand out from the other students at school.

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Fear No Evil tries to tell a larger story than the budget will allow, but LaLoggia does his best to deliver an entertaining picture. His script is a bit uneven and the pacing is frequently slow, but the finale is surprisingly over-the-top and full of special effects. The film has developed something of a reputation within the gay community, as our somewhat effeminate lead character is bullied by a guy who passionately kisses him in the shower while others stand around in the nude and watch. When Lucifer takes over as host, his wardrobe suddenly becomes androgynous, complete with heavy make-up and a chiffon robe that grows skimpier every time he turns around. There is an inspired comeuppance for the bully that is pretty surprising, as it plays on his sexuality fears.

Despite its structural flaws, Fear No Evil is somewhat successful in presenting an original idea from a dedicated storyteller. The script could have used an additional draft to make some of the bigger ideas more accessible, but LaLoggia gets points for trying something different. The film boasts a surprisingly hip soundtrack, featuring music from The Ramones, Talking Heads, Boomtown Rats, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols and more. When I first saw it on VHS in the ‘80s, I was bored and confused, but time has been kind and I found it more agreeable as I have aged. Parts of this movie work really well and I can recommend it to curious newcomers, longtime fans will want to add it to their collection.

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Video and Audio:

The original camera negative has received a 4K scan and restoration and looks terrific. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the new transfer is lively, with rich colors and deep black levels. Flesh tones appear natural throughout and there is plenty of small-object detail.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 track preserves the film’s stereo audio presentation. Dialogue levels are clean and free from hiss or other distortion. Music cues are solid without becoming obtrusive and are well-balanced with sound effects.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The extras on this disc are something of a mixed bag. There is some newly recorded material, but the special features from the earlier DVD release, including a director’s commentary and behind-the-scenes footage, have not been carried over.

Actor Stefan Arngrim provides an all-new audio commentary moderated by filmmaker Justin Beahm. He reflects on his early success as a child actor on TV, including Land of the Giants. He talks about meeting Frank LaLoggia and the challenges of shooting Fear No Evil. Arngrim remembers working with his co-stars, shooting on location, tension on the set and the hard-working crew. Later in the discussion he takes time out to talk about later projects, including The Orkly Kid.

Stefan Arngrim on Giants and Feeding Darkness (37 minutes) allows the actor additional time to talk about his work on the picture. There is some overlap in information with the audio commentary, but he shares some interesting production stories. Other topics include shooting the notorious shower scene, working with special make-up effects and filming in an abandoned castle.

Special effects artist John Eggett discusses his work in the segment Pyro, Gators & The Devil (28 minutes). He reveals an early interest in explosives, discovering magic as a gateway to special effects and how he got into the industry. He explains how some of the more memorable effects scenes were accomplished and shares an amusing story about a deleted scene involving a rabbit.

A short theatrical trailer is paired with seven TV spots.

A still gallery plays as a slideshow (4 minutes) featuring color and black-and-white images, including lobby cards, promotional shots, publicity stills and poster art.

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Grades:

Movie: Twoandahalfstars Fear No Evil Small
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: Threestars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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