Satan was alive and well in America during the 1970s and 1980s. On the heels of Rosemary’s Baby, religious-themed supernatural horror from The Exorcist to The Omen dominated horror for the next decade. As the 70s gave way to the 1980s and heavy metal, a new wave of Satanic panic took hold of Americans. All of this public handwringing over the Devil and the corruption of youth led to a handful of horror movies that mixed devil horns with high school losers. Trick or Treat. Evilspeak. And then there was Fear No Evil. Very low-budget and very obscure, no one would blame you if you had never heard of htis one let alone actually seen it. Only a handful of reviews exist.
Andrew Williams is that one student you’ll find in every high school. He’s quiet, awkward, and a loner. No one really likes him. Even his own father dumps on him. But Andrew has a secret – he’s Lucifer himself. And as he embraces his destiny, Andrew threatens to bring Armageddon to Earth and an end to humanity.
Fear No Evil Has Enough Head-Scratching Weirdness to Compensate For Lackluster Pacing
Lucifer as a high school loser who eventually finds his ‘powers’ and fights back – all backed by a punk soundtrack – should be a no brainer. Exploitation movies have buttered their bread with this kind of story. Somehow writer and director Frank LaLoggia misunderstood the assignment. That’s not to say you won’t find plenty of head-scratching weirdness alongside occasional midnight movie atmosphere. Unfortunately, Fear No Evil struggles to get its religious horror and social outcast stories to fit together. Too much time is spent following a reincarnated version of the archangel Gabriel (or Gabrielle) leading to long dull stretches. For a movie with such a silly premise, Fear No Evil takes itself too seriously too often.
But the third act where Andrew summons a horde of the undead from their graves actually impresses.
Fortunately, Fear No Evil has a handful of odds scenes and strange moments to earn midnight movie status. One inexplicable gym shower scene rivals the homoerotic subtext of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2″ Freddy’s Revenge. Another dream sequence has the kind of unsettling imagery – intentional or otherwise – found in the best midnight movies. One character grows breasts in a scene played for horror. And stigmata inflict attendees of the most well-attended community theater reenactment of the passion play. But the third act where Andrew summons a horde of undead from their graves actually impresses. Yes, Fear No Evil immediately overreaches its budget in the climax. Nonetheless, its these idiosyncrasies that make it of the ‘so bad, it’s good’ variety.
Fear No Evil Misunderstood the Assignment
Nowhere is LaLoggia’s inept storytelling more evident than his handling of his social outcast narrative. And Fear No Evil’s low budget is no excuse. Plenty of trashy exploitation flicks – Massacre at Central High and Evilspeak come to mind – have given us compelling picked upon losers violently lashing out. Apparently, Andrew is an awkward loner – we know this mostly because the synopsis that comes with the movie says so. Yet aside form the aforementioned shower scene and the world’s most enthusiastic dodgeball-loving gym teacher you’d scarcely know Andrew was picked on. At least Fear No Evil has a cool high school soundtrack packed with actual punk and new wave.
In the absence of all the social outcast thriller dynamics, it’s hard to ever really anticipate what the movie is building toward. Are you supposed to loathe Andrew’s peers and hope for their comeuppance or does LaLoggia expect you to buy into his religious horror trappings. Of course, Stefan Arngrim’s ‘Andrew Williams’ doesn’t inspire much other than apathy. Arngrim turns in a flat performance and the result is a pretty vanilla Lucifer. At least Barry Cooper understood the assignment. As Andrew’s put upon father, Cooper gives a truly off-kilter performance worthy of a B-movie.
Fear No Evil Checks Most Midnight Movie Boxes
Though it’s never as outrageous its subject matter promises, Fear No Evil has enough midnight movie bona fides for cult movie lovers. Only diehard horror fans and lovers of bad cinema need apply. In addition to its wooden acting, ultra-low budget, and hokey effects, Fear No Evil has too many puzzling WTF scenes for most moviegoers. But it’s precisely these quirks that may make this one a bit of a hidden gem for some cinephiles.