After losing contact with her artist father, Arletty travels to the west coast. Though she doesn't find him, she meets Thom, an odd wealthy man who's travelling with 2 lovers, Toni and Laura, to meet her father. She reads his diary and realises there's something strange with the residents of this California town.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A girl arrives in a strange town on the California coast to see her father and learns that he's vanished. When she meets up with a swinging drifter the two soon discover that the weird locals are hiding a horrific secret, they're also quite hungry...
Dead People (also known by the title Messiah of Evil) is an obscure gem among the numerous low-budget drive-in horror flicks of the 70's. It's a gritty film that brims with creative energy and remains intriguingly off-beat throughout. This isn't your standard horror tale at all. There's a great atmospheric dread that runs through the film, along with an amazingly nightmarish moodiness. The compelling plot sports a number of truly chilling scenes and escalates to an intense, if somewhat surreal, finale that's perfectly haunting. It also uses very little violence or gore to reach its effective creepiness.
Director Willard Huyck does a splendid job creating a dream-like vibe for this film and does well with crafting some suspenseful scenes. The cast is good as well. Star Marianna Hill is confident in her portrayal of mystified Arletty and Michael Greer brings something genuine to the character of wondering Thom. Veteran actors Elisha Cook Jr. and Royal Dano are both excellent and truly spooky in their brief but memorable roles in the film.
Is it a perfect film? Not quite, there's some rough editing and a wistful love song theme that seems out of place here, but these issues are dwarfed by the strong points. There's plenty to admire about this chilling, unique horror film. It's definitely worth tracking down for horror fans that enjoy their films a bit on the existential side.
*** 1/2 out of ****
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