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Messiah of Evil (1973)

R | | Horror | 2 May 1973 (USA)
A young woman goes searching for her missing artist father. Her journey takes her to a strange Californian seaside town governed by a mysterious undead cult.

Directors:

Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz (uncredited)

Writers:

Willard Huyck (screenplay), Gloria Katz (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Greer ... Thom
Marianna Hill ... Arletty (as Mariana Hill)
Joy Bang ... Toni
Anitra Ford ... Laura
Royal Dano ... Joseph Lang
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Charlie
Charles Dierkop ... Gas Attendant
Bennie Robinson Bennie Robinson ... Albino Trucker
Morgan Fisher Morgan Fisher ... Unknown
Emma Truckman Emma Truckman ... Unknown
Dyanne Asimow Dyanne Asimow ... Unknown (as Dyanne Simon)
Herb Margolis Herb Margolis ... Unknown
Alex Michaels Alex Michaels ... Unknown
Walter Hill
Laurie Charlap-Hyman Laurie Charlap-Hyman ... Unknown
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Storyline

A young woman goes searching for her missing artist father. Her journey takes her to a strange Californian seaside town governed by a mysterious undead cult.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Terror reigns when he returns. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 May 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead People See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hank Worden was originally offered the role of Charlie, but couldn't do it because his wife disapproved of the script. See more »

Goofs

When Arletty is tending to Thom towards the end of the film, Thom is on his back and has some blood on his face from his ear, which she wipes away. In the next shot, the blood is back. See more »

Quotes

Charlie: Don't be afraid. I'm an ugly old man, but I'm harmless.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The recent DVD release (under the title Messiah of Evil) contains a version of the film that omits the song "Hold on to Love" that opens and closes some versions of the film. See more »


Soundtracks

Hold On To Love
Music and Lyrics by Eliane Tortel
Sung by Raun MacKinnon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Spooky but deeply flawed
16 November 2002 | by lenhardt-2See all my reviews

Arletty (Marianna Hill) travels to the coastal California town of Point Dune to visit her bohemian father, from whom she has received worrisome letters of late. Once there she discovers he has vanished, leaving behind cryptic diary entries. Joined by aristocratic loafer Thom (Michael Greer) and his two "groupies" (Joy Bang and Anitra Ford), Arletty investigates her father's disappearance and is struck by the strange behavior of the townsfolk.

MESSIAH OF EVIL (DEAD PEOPLE) is an inchoate, jumbled narrative, given a boost by some of the more atmospheric scenes in the horror genre: The opening encounter with the albino at the gas station; Anitra Ford stumbling upon some late-night grocery store scavengers; Joy Bang sitting in a movie theatre while the seats around her gradually fill with the undead; the climactic raid on the beach house during which attackers crash down through the skylights; to mention just a few.

On the other hand, aspects of the film such as the morose, faux-literate narration, and the Thom character, are pretentious. Michael Greer is a good actor, but his role isn't well fleshed out. Joy Bang is a hot little number with an infectious petulance, but not much of an actress. Choppy editing and a surfeit of inconsequential scenes are also detriments. Furthermore, we are never given an adequate explanation as to what causes the zombification to spread and why. The entire basis of the film's horror is not fully formed. In that respect (as well as in others) I was reminded of LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, John Hancock's creepy 1971 classic. Both films are conceptually confused - as a matter of fact, the latter even more so since it's never clear whether the monsters are zombies, vampires, or ghosts...or all three - , both films begin and end with a voice-over account from the heroine, and both involve the intrusion of a mentally fragile woman in a small town full of altered, threatening beings. "Let's Scare Jessica to Death", ignoring the ludicrous title, is easily the better of the two. It has a much more evocative sense of specific location ambience, and is, on the whole, more satisfying and cohesive.

Complaints aside, "Messiah of Evil" is a good find for 1970s Horror aficionados. A remastered, re-edited version would be welcome.


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