84 user 69 critic

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.


Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz (uncredited)


Willard Huyck (screenplay), Gloria Katz (screenplay)




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 ... Stabbing Victim in Prologue
Laurie Charlap-Hyman Laurie Charlap-Hyman ... Unknown


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Meet Albert. Albert likes good music, motor trips by moonlight, and...eating human flesh. Albert is one of the...(Dead People) See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Shot over the course of two months in 1971, though not released until 1973. See more »


The sound towards the end somehow develops a three-second delay from when the characters open their mouths to when we actually hear their voices. See more »


Thom: You don't just unzip a man - and say goodnight.
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 »


References The Birds (1963) See more »


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

User Reviews

A red moon over Pointe Dune.
7 April 2009 | by Nightman85See all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

2 May 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Messiah of Evil: The Second Coming See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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