Plot holes, cheesy lines, and subliminal messaging. What more can one expect from a B-movie straight out of the 70’s? Well you get all of that with the 1973 film Messiah of Evil.
What more could you expect from the creators of the massive flop, Howard the Duck (1986)? That’s right; Messiah of Evil was actually the directorial debut of Willard Huyck and his wife Gloria Katz.
Messiah of Evil is a surreal horror film that seems to have more detractors than it does fans, but that might be due to the fact that this film has been somewhat forgotten over the years and has become a curious footnote in the zombie genre.
Actually, to be more precise, the killers in this film aren’t really ‘pure zombies’ in the classic sense, they comes across more as a vampire-zombie hybrid.
So What’s It About?
Shot over the span of only two months in 1971 but not released until 1973, Messiah of Evil follows the young Arletty (Marianna Hill), as she searches for her missing father through the small California town of Point Dune – however, throughout the entire movie it seems as if the cast are pronouncing it as Point Doom.
When Arletty actually gets to the town, she finds that something fishy is going on surrounding her father’s disappearance, and her investigations soon force her to befriend three peculiar ‘out-of-towners’: Thom (Michael Greer), Toni (Joy Bang), and Laura (Anita Ford). Together, Thom and Arletty, discover the mystery surrounding the legend of the Blood Moon, all while their patrons are ripped to shreds and devoured by the locals.
These zombies are actually town’s people, who were played mostly by unemployed NASA workers from the area where the movie was filmed, who have undergone some strange process that has caused them to be drained of their drain their blood, and subsequently they now crave the yummy-ummy delicacy of raw meat and human flesh.
The kick though, and one of the best parts out of the entire movie would have to be all of the subtle puns, foreshadowing, and amazing pure 70’s cheesy horror film lines. Who doesn’t like to hear “It’s just a piss poor town. It’s deader than hell” in a film about dead people? Or my favourite gem of them all “You don’t just unzip a man and then say goodnight.” This line said by Thom after Arletty unzips the vest of his suit. That suit happening to be the item allotted the largest sum out of the entire film’s budget. And who doesn’t like a bit of foreshadowing when a character goes to see a movie at the theatre titled Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye? It’s small gems like these hidden throughout the movie that make it genuinely laughable, whether it was meant to be or not.
What Did Everyone Think?
Overall, most interpretations and reviews of Messiah of Evil are very, very mixed. Some praise the film for being a cult classic and a masterpiece for subliminal messages and an abstract take on consumerism.
Others only see the piece for its very superficial and surface visage of being a low budget film lacking any complete plot. I believe though that this film is a terrific and horrifyingly wonderful example of a film with deeper meaning and substance.
The plot holes are there for the viewer’s own personal interpretation of the film, because it is said to give the entire film a dream-like, or rather, a nightmarish element. Also, Huyck’s and Katz’s take on consumerism is brilliantly exemplified through Toni and Laura. What do I mean through Toni and Laura? Well I’m not here to ruin the movie for you, watch it and find out!
Whether it was liked or not, it can be argued though that Messiah of Evil was one of the first films to have the choppy dream-like feel to it, which helped to influence later horror pieces, and that it took its nightmarish surrealism further than others had dared to at that time.
This is a truly surreal slice of horror.
Watch ‘Messiah of Evil’:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Kelsey B