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  Fear No Evil A New Church Of SatanBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Frank LaLoggia
Stars: Stefan Arngrim, Elizabeth Hoffman, Kathleen Rowe McAllen, Frank Birney, Daniel Eden, John Holland, Barry Cooper, Alice Sachs, Paul Haber, Roslyn Gugino, Richard Jay Silverthorn, Marianne Simpson, Joyce Bumpus, Patricia Decillis, Chris DeVincentis
Genre: Horror, Weirdo
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Some years ago, Lucifer himself, trying to claw back power from the Almighty God, contrived to set up a return to the Earth so he could conquer humanity with himself as absolute ruler. However, God had on his side three angels, and one of them, Rafael (John Holland), also known as Father Damon in his Earthly form, followed this incarnation of evil through an abandoned castle adorned with sacrifices hanging from its ceiling. He chased The Devil outside and up against a tree where despite his quarry's attempts to thwart him, he allowed God to channel his energy through a religious artefact that he ran Lucifer through with. But they were not finished yet: The Antichrist was born!

What conservatively could be called an oddity, Fear No Evil was the first film directed in the somewhat meagre career of Frank LaLoggia, whose second film was Lady in White, a rather better regarded ghost story from seven years after this. Here was a belated entry in the Satanic cycle of the nineteen-seventies which as with those others took its religion deadly seriously, but the results may not have been quite as easy to approach in quite the same frame of mind as intended. While this could also tie in with the likes of Carrie, the Stephen King adaptation, it was curiously closer to the first sequel to The Omen, Damien: The Omen Part II with its troubled teen steeped in evil.

However, whereas many of those Satanic horrors enjoyed placing sequences where the makeup and special effects departments were given free rein to do what they wanted, the budget on LaLoggia's efforts were not as generous to allow that, so he had to be creative. Well, you could call it creative, you could also call it nuts, as the Antichrist's influence leads characters around him to behave very strangely, from his parents who quarrel over the worth of their offspring until a fatal accident with a steam iron settles it rather abruptly, to later on when he is in his last year of high school and somehow prompts, for example, his P.E. teacher to murder a pupil by playing dodgeball too roughly.

What offered Fear No Evil its most interest was among gay horror fans, who responded to the central villain's outsider status as a stand-in for gender confusion. Andrew (former child actor Stefan Arngrim) certainly makes moves towards fellow student Julie (Elizabeth Rowe McAllen) by appearing in her dreams, but she is actually an angel in disguise - though it takes some persuading for her to accept it. This means Andrew would have better luck trying to seduce the school bully Tony (Daniel Eden), who for some reason thinks a great way to intimidate his victim is to give him a long, lingering kiss while in the communal showers, while they're all naked. Even Tony seems alarmed by what he's just done, but he resumes his aggressive ways shortly afterwards, which leaves the audience in an awkward position.

Do we back Andrew because he foils the bully, or do we back Tony because he is against the Antichrist? How about we support neither of them, though the bully's eventual fate, horrified at growing a shapely pair of breasts, was a novel way of messing with his head, too. Not that the high school setting (actually the director's old haunts) was all there was to this, as for kicks they chucked in some zombies who erupt from the ground while the community passion play was taking place. And that religious occasion is Satanic-ised too when somehow the staged crucifixion turns real, and the crowd develop sudden stigmata in terrified sympathy. The distributor added a light show to the grand finale where Julie and her mentor Mikhail (Elizabeth Hoffman) confront Andrew, and it was assuredly an arresting experience even at the sluggish pace it unfolds, but the overall impression was that someone had some serious issues to sort out before they were allowed to make more movies. Music by LaLoggia and David Spear (with a bunch of punk and New Wave on the soundtrack).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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