Tuesday, March 15

Fear No Evil (1981) - 1983 Embassy Home Video Betamax

Frank LaLoggia's Fear No Evil is not only the worst kind of horror effort, but cinematic work in general. Reminiscent of The Nightmare Never Ends (Cataclysm) (1980), there's so much squandered potential in the Lady in White writer/director's debut feature that the viewing experience is nothing but frustrating. There's not only glimpses of interest peppered throughout but also brilliance awashed in technically solid execution, excellent optical effects work, and a great score arranged by LaLoggia himself and notable punk/new wave soundtrack. Marry that with the back synopsis on this tape and you'd think you're at least in for something interesting.

And make no mistake, this nonetheless impressive crossbreed between '80s slasher youth aesthetic and "serious" demonic possession/apocalypse concept is interesting, just in all the wrong, irritating ways. LaLoggia structures his narrative by inexplicably giving characters the assumed knowledge of the audience. As viewers, we learn or expect things during the course of the feature and eventually, usually without much or no explaination, characters somehow gain the same insight. Other times, you get the sense characters know things the viewer should know yet we're mostly left in the dark. I'm also betting during the creation of Fear No Evil, everyone involved probably figured it would all make sense when finally put together. As it turns out, LaLoggia might be the only one able to comprehend of his own schizophrenia. If that's hard to digest, just try making heads-or-tails of this mess that's punch-drunk with itself.

It's honestly a crying shame because with a more linear approach Fear No Evil could have been a minor masterpiece. The difference being the real horror masterpieces LaLoggia aspires to be in league with, like The Exorcist or Carrie, possess clear logic with any questions building toward their conclusions. As LaLoggia's maiden voyage stands, it's like random chunks of a larger, potentially classic horror film pieced together in sequential order. Attractive cover though...


Craig Edwards said...

I totally agree with you - back when this hit cable in the 80's I was all over it - several viewings in fact - and then promptly bought the special edition DVD a few years ago, ready to catch up with the flick - and I was completly unimpressed upon viewing it again. Some okay moments, but they do not hang together well at all!

Troy Olson said...

That cover ALWAYS enticed me during my horror cover perusals at the old video store. It wasn't until last year that I finally got around to watching it. I completely agree with your assessments of it, with two things standing out about it.

First, the music soundtrack caught me by surrpise -- were royalties/music rights not an issue back in the early 80's or did LaLoggia just blow all of his budget on securing music?

Secondly, this is the only movie I've seen that has a man killed by a dodgeball, so at least it has that going for it...

Unknown said...

You pretty much nailed it on the head. It's weird enough to be notable but something was definitely lost in translation. I will say the image of the lead character in that black, sheer get up has stayed with me all these years.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?

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