FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 1, 2019

SHOCKtober Day 1: FEAR NO EVIL (1981)



...or, Satan is a Homo.

I've been jonesin' to see this one forever, thanks to fond memories of its yearbook exploded to heck box art and the fact that it hails from horror's finest year. Seriously, those two points were enough to sell me–I had no idea what the film was about (possession, maybe?) until I fired it up last night. That's right, I didn't even read the back of the box! As you know we (me) at Final Girl live life on the edge, always but especially during SHOCKtober, and what is more daring, on the edge, and, if I may say so, thrill-seeking than watching a movie that you don't know shit about? Nothing! Except maybe doing that whilst eating a hot pepper. I did not eat a hot pepper whilst watching it, but my adrenaline was pumping as if I did!

I tells ya, SHOCKtober is a time of thrills and enlightenment. Here it is, but Day 1, and already I have solved The Ancient Riddle of What is Fear No Evil About. Sorry, I know, that sounds like the worst, most disappointing Nancy Drew book of all time, a one-paragraph book where she just...reads the copy on the back of the Fear No Evil Blu-ray and solves the mystery, the end. Also I realize this whole entry so far is the worst, most disappointing movie intro to a movie review of all time, but that's par for the course around here so you only have yourself to blame for reading it.

ANYWAY. You know how it goes: a baby is born, he's a baby of means. Then along come two, they got nothin' but their jeans. No wait! That's the Diff'rent Strokes theme song. What I meant to say is that a baby is born, he's the Antichrist! Lucifer has been reborn, you see, in wee little Andrew Williams (Stefan Arngrim), and somewhere out there the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, also reborn, are waiting for Lucifer to show his dumb Lucifer face so they can kill him good. It's a cycle, you see, an eternal holy battle of good and evil and all that.

18 years later, Andrew is a weird, smart, shy, creepy, gangly high schooler who seems largely unaware of his true nature and/or powers, although his parents are absolutely terrified of him. Mostly Andrew spends his days glaring at his unruly classmates–and when I say they're unruly...boy, do I mean it.

Everyone in this school is 45 years old, horny, surly, and dumb. It's great! There's a girl gang–The Queen B's–replete with satin jackets à la One Dark Night. There are ne'er-do-wells who decide to bully Andrew in the locker room shower by...kissing him? Uh, sure, that's a thing, I guess.

Listen, there's a lot of gay in this movie, and I'm still trying to figure out what it all means and what it's trying to say. (See photo exhibit #1, of a very fabulous Andrew-Gone-Lucifer up at the top of this post.) Andrew is very obviously gay. There is copious fella nudity here, basements both front and rear (so many butts). The ne'er-do-well, Tony (Daniel Eden) is a real misogynist tough guy who smacks his girlfriends around, fucks her with a gun barrel (!! this movie!), and as I noted, kisses the kid he's bullying. Late in the film, when Andrew fully comes into his Satantastic powers (and dons lipstick, natch), he summons some oatmeal-faced zombies to rise out of the dirt, and they mostly shuffle around and hassle all the hetero couples that are scattered around. Andrew also...uh...gives Tony a pair of breasts (!! this movie!), which causes Tony to promptly kill himself. The Archangels Michael and Gabriel, in this cycle, are women.

Is Fear No Evil homophobic, making the evil Lucifer a homosexual? After all, the gay devil is killed by holy light beams at the end. Good wins the day. Or is the message the opposite of that, showing that religion is oppressive and repressive, snuffing out Lucifer's effeminate, flamboyant gayness? I suppose that's up to you to decide. I've decided it's the latter. Religion ruins everything, of course those drab Archangels wanted to squash Andrew's self-actualization. They're so boring.

Unfortunately, so is this movie! It's definitely a worthy curiosity to add to the queer horror canon, but aye yi yi it's mostly a slog and a mess. It's all over the place tonally, and there are serious pacing issues as it cuts between Andrew's journey and that of the Archangels. There's a disjointed feel to it, like writer/director Frank LaLoggia was trying to cram too much in; plot threads are underdeveloped and there's no build to the overarching story. The hints of The Omen, Carrie, and Rosemary's Baby throughout make you wish Fear No Evil went as nutso as any one of those. Still, for the budget there are some nice effects (I do so love an oatmeal-faced zombie), gothic-lite touches, and the soundtrack–which includes The B-52s, The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and much much more–fuckin' rules. If only those Archangels and filmmakers alike would have let Andrew be his fabulous self!

2 comments:

MarkAndrew said...

It is a rare review which argues that this is both a bad movie and the BEST MOVIE.

Stacie Ponder said...

Welcome to Final Girl :D