Sunday, April 4, 2010
FEAR NO EVIL: What's Scarier Than A Feminine Guy?
I just revisited this 1981 release, the first film by a then very young Frank LaLoggia. Many people accuse this film of having a muddled plot, but I had no problem following it. I was raised Catholic, and it probably helps you if you have some knowledge of the theology referenced here; but having seen a bunch of other horror films that draw on Catholic myth and imagery should be more than enough to help you get it.
"Fear No Evil" has some teenagers as major characters, and it was publicized as a sort of male answer to "Carrie." But it actually has more in common with a demon child film like “The Omen.”
Two archangels (Jack Holland and Elizabeth Hoffman), incarnated on earth, kill a similarly incarnated demon, but one of them -- whose everyday identity is as a Catholic priest (Holland)-- is found guilty of murder and imprisoned. Seems the authorities didn’t understand that the victim wasn’t human. The supernatural conflict was also complicated because the killers were waiting for help from a third angel who was supposed to incarnate with them, but for some reason lagged behind.
Meanwhile, the Antichrist incarnates as a strange, somewhat feminine boy named Andrew (Stefan Angrim from "Land Of The Giants"). He destroys the lives of his mortal parents, paralyzing his mother and driving his father to drink. He sacrifices a dog, preparing himself to bring on Armageddon. Ultimately he performs a demonic ceremony on a spooky island where criminals are buried, causing the corpses to rise. (So the movie also owes something to “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”). But the third angel is now incarnated as a teenage girl (Kathleen Rowe McAllen), and there ensues a climactic struggle between the forces of good and evil. McAllen and Hoffman's angelic characters join forces against Andrew in a special effects light show battle.
The film has a strong visual style thanks to director of photography Frederic Goodrich, and makes good use of music by such then-current groups as The Boomtown Rats,. The Ramones, and The Sex Pistols. The actor's performances are compellingly tortured. I found the film fascinating, if not exactly scary.
It even has a powerfully homoerotic shower scene between a taunted Andrew and an early-John-Travolta-like bully (Daniel Eden). Naked in the shower, Andrew grabs the bully and passionately kisses him for a long time; he can’t break free. Ultimately, the bully commits suicide after Andrew magickally causes him to grow female breasts. (Isn’t that the irony of homophobia – the supposedly straight guy feels there’s nothing worse a man can be than like a woman, betraying an attitude toward women that’s not exactly loving).
It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's a consciously ambitious and quite different low-budget horror film.