HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Moonchild
Verite, La
Guilty, The
Stranger in the House
Redcon-1
G.G. Passion
Chien Andalou, Un
Boar
Bulldog Drummond
First Man
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
Cannibal Club, The
Grasshopper, The
Searching
Human Desire
Climax
Stiff Upper Lips
American Animals
Outlaws
Venom
World on a Wire
Velvet Buzzsaw
Picnic
Dick Dickman, PI
Hunter Killer
30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, The
Race for the Yankee Zephyr
Boys in the Band, The
Brainscan
T-Men
   
 
Newest Articles
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
   
 
  Messiah of Evil MoonlightersBuy this film here.
Year: 1973
Director: Willard Huyck
Stars: Michael Greer, Marianna Hill, Joy Bang, Anitra Ford, Royal Dano, Elisha Cook Jr, Charles Dierkop, Bennie Robinson, Morgan Fisher, Emma Truckman, Walter Hill
Genre: Horror, Weirdo
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: A man on the run hurtles down a street at night, looking for shelter when he notices a little girl offering him a place of safety and so ducks into someone's back yard, pauses to wash his face in the fountain and then lies down on the ground, exhausted. The girl stands over him looking benevolently into his eyes - but abruptly slashes his throat open with a straight razor, killing him. Yet what does this have to do with Arletty (Marianna Hill), now incarcerated in a mental home for her claims? Those claims being that the seaside town she went to visit her father in is now overrun with some very strange people on the hundredth anniversary of the moon turning blood red...

That bloke running away at the start was future cult movie director Walter Hill, incidentally. Messiah of Evil, originally known by the far plainer title Dead People, was the first film to be made by the husband and wife duo of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, writers of American Graffiti, if not completed by them. Well, that's not strictly true, as the production was edited into some semblance of a movie, but was somewhat hamstrung by the fact that the money ran out before they had a chance to shoot their ending, leaving unsuspecting viewers scratching their heads for decades to come at a story that makes little sense as it stands.

Yet somehow that offered the proceedings a note of enigma, as if Huyck and Katz had stumbled upon an engrossing surrealist style by accident. There are those who identified parts of Carnival of Souls or even Night of the Living Dead in this, but when you know they were more influenced by European art films, you can detect the Michelangelo Antonioni or Jean-Luc Godard in it. Sometimes a filmmaker without a feel for the horror genre can conjure up a genuinely intriguing atmosphere to their chiller, and so it was the case with Messiah of Evil, with the manner in which it unfolded less satisfying on a story level as it was in mood, as if someone's nightmare was projected from their sleeping mind onto the screen.

That plotline, such as it is, sees Arletty (oddly named after the famed French actress for no reason apparent other than the screenwriters being fans of hers) go to meet her artist father at his beachhouse, stopping off at a gas station on the way. This throws up a strange puzzle, in that although we are supposed to be getting her take on events she includes parts that she could not possibly have known about, which can be explained by the fact that not one but two voiceovers were put on this to wrap it all together, but also contributes to the overall curiosity. Therefore the garage attendant is killed by a figure half-glimpsed in shadow after Arletty has gone, and his is not the only death we see that she has no idea about, looking as if this is her dream and she is unconsciously bumping off people she meets in it.

There is a pretty decent cast putting this across, as Hill was well established as a top character lead by this time, and she meets three decadent drifters in Michael Greer (perhaps better known as a comedian), Anitra Ford (a gameshow hostess known for her Invasion of the Bee Girls villainess) and Joy Bang (the unforgettably-named cult star who brightened up a fair few films of the time in support). In addition, Elisha Cook Jr shows up as does his spiritual brother in such works, Royal Dano, who plays the absent father and ends up covered in paint as he rants. Colour is very important here, and the hues blaze off the screen whether it's the landscape or the huge paintings decorating the beach house interior. It may not hang together too well, but there are striking sequences that have stayed with many who have caught this, from the supermarket attack (with fast zombies years before 28 Days Later...) and the world's worst trip to a cinema (you thought patrons talking on their phones was bad). That sums this up: not a classic, but hard to shake once you've seen it. Electronic music by Phillan Bishop.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1946 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Enoch Sneed
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
   

 

Last Updated: