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Messiah of Evil (1974)

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:

11 December 1974 (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

The pick-up truck Bennie Robinson drives in the movie was owned by art director Jack Fisk. 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: I'm as old as the hills. Mama delivered me herself. She took me from between her legs, bloody little mess. She's about to feed me to the chickens. And daddy said, "Maybe we could use a boy lottie." That's how I came into the world.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Wonder Woman (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Before Romero's Dawn and Crazies...
19 April 2010 | by amesmondeSee all my reviews

Arletty (Marianna Hill) arrives in a small, odd, creepy coastal town in California looking for her father and she quickly learns little is as it seems.

Before Romero's Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead People a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret... In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies. The storyline is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, it feels art house, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there's plenty to like about it.

Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Dead & Buried (1981) and the aforementioned Dawn of the Dead clearly have taken a cue from Willard Huyck's jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson, who you'd think would have been in a lot more horror movies. If you liked Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) and Night of the Living Dead there's some horror delight to be found here from the shocking first kill to the insane asylum ending.

Messiah of Evil oozes dread and suspense, it's a chilling 70's horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today's so called horrors.


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