Fear No Evil is a 1981 Omen-style riff on the whole antichrist schtick, bringing the harbinger of doom to high school for all the pain and bloody glory such a premise entails, with the added bonus of a hopelessly convoluted plot involving archangels attempting to stop him from taking over the world. It is not particularly good and actually quite boring.
The behind-the-scenes story of writer / director Frank LaLoggia personally raising $150,000 of the budget to make the horror movie he wanted to make is more interesting than anything that happens within the film itself, which follows Andrew (Stefan Arngrim), the least charismatic Satan ever put on film, as he messes around with other high schoolers and his bullies. A few standout scenes feature cool special effects, zombie make-up and bleeding crucifixes. The exploitation elements — nudity, violence, what have you — are kind of few and far between. Occasionally, LaLoggia turns the rivalry between Andrew and his bully, Tony (Daniel Eden), into what seems to be a story of suppressed gay lust, but it’s hardly expressed well enough to feel intentional.
Maybe the biggest surprise contained within Fear No Evil is the soundtrack, which now feels like a “greatest hits” selection of punk from the late 1970s and early 1980s. It features tracks from the Sex Pistols, Talking Head, Patti Smith, and the Ramones. These days, most of these songs would likely cost an arm and a leg to license in a period movie. But here they’re dropped nonchalantly within LaLoggia’s muddled sound mix.
LaLoggia managed to film several important sequences on location at Boldt Castle, the enormous once-abandoned castle in the Thousand Islands region of New York. Filming on such a gorgeous landmark (now a well-restored tourist attraction) does lend his ultimate Lucifer v. Angels showdown some borrowed gravitas, and the third act picks up steam once the decaying dead start eating teenagers. It’s too little too late, however, and doesn’t justify the two acts spent with a disinteresting mystery.
This new Shout! Factory release features audio commentary with Arngrim, as well as an interview with him, an interview with the special effects artist, and a newly restored print. Fear No Evil has an appealing cult element to it, and watching it with the budget and amateur production in mind makes it, at the least, a historical curiosity. It’s the sort of horror film that needed to be experienced at its release on a surreptitiously viewed VHS tape, or, at this point, via a detailed making-of book rather than a Blu-ray late one night alone at home.