Though he made three short films in his teens, at the age of 26 Frank LaLoggia, aided by his cousin Charles, raised sufficient capital to shoot a horror film in the Thousand Islands area of New York State.
Using crumbling Bolt Castle, waterfront locations, and a colourful collection of local cottages and gardens, LaLoggia, hired a cast of mostly unknown actors – the exceptions being Stefan Arngrim, from TV's “Land of the Lost,” and Elizabeth Hoffman (better known for her TV role on “Sisters”) – and enthusiastic locals.
Like “The Howling” and “Strange Behavior,” “Fear No Evil” was another attempt by a hungry filmmaker to enter the film industry via two venues: the horror genre, which still enjoyed some revenue from the drive-in crowd.
LaLoggia's commentary is a step up from the track he provided for “Lady In White,” where the writer/director waxed sentimentally over that film's autobiographical characters, and a dominant theme of family closeness. “Fear,” on the other hand, deals more with the corruption of the family unit, a threatened closely-knit community, and though LaLoggia doesn't see it himself, exploitation of some major Catholic themes. Beginning as a slow-moving battle between celestial good and perverted evil, in his lively commentary LaLoggia recalls screening the finished film for Avco Embassy executives, who remained largely silent until the first zombie bursts from a grave. Loathed by the director but pressured by his cousin to retain the living dead finale, that first corpse sealed the deal, and ensured “Fear No Evil” got theatrical and home video distribution – albeit with specific changes.
“Lady In White” was LaLoggia's effort to own, control and shape a film to his own criteria – and an answer to the ‘meddling' that altered his first cut of “Fear No Evil.” Yet in all fairness to the distributor, “Fear” in its present state works quite well. LaLoggia points out the cuts he had to make – mostly to emphasize the teen aspect and reduce the philosophizing – and discusses the now-classic rock and punk songs to enhance the film's drive-in appeal. The changes also meant the distributor would finance the film's expensive post-production, which included some very pricey effects designed by a young Peter Kuran.
Aided by cinematographer Frederic Goodich (previously a 2 nd Unit cinematographer), the DVD's commentary track happily covers a very wide spectrum of the film's genesis, including casting and location hunting, and the crew's maximization of assets to achieve a really polished film. Anchor Bay 's transfer is quite faithful to Goodich's moody images – shots inside the Bolt castle remain the film's standouts – and the visual effects have aged fairly well. Goodich goes over the visual tricks and night shots, and one can't help be impressed by the balls these filmmakers had to shoot a feature film with some pretty large crowd scenes, and create a small town atmosphere in a largely tourist locale.
The DVD's soundtrack is pretty punchy as a 2.0 mix and in the newly remixed 5.1 version, with a good balance between dialogue, sound effects, and thematically rich orchestral score by LaLoggia and co-composer David Spear.
Like “Lady In White,” LaLoggia hired someone to shoot behind the scenes footage on VHS. Spanning numerous scenes with special effects and crowds, the excellent featurette also shows material from 2 deleted, aided by an optional commentary from the director and cinematographer.
Jay Marks' booklet notes gives a brisk overview of the film's financial end, and the stills include an image from the crucifixion scene, and the excellent flaming art from the original poster.
After “Fear No Evil,” LaLoggia went on to make “Lady In White,” and the 1996 thriller “Mother,” before seemingly disappearing from the film scene.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan