6.5/10
2,239
74 user 60 critic

Messiah of Evil (1973)

R | | Horror | 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:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay)
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Dead of Night (1974)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young man killed in Vietnam inexplicably returns home as a zombie.

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.

Director: John D. Hancock
Stars: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Kevin O'Connor
Cover Up (1974)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Edmund and Dorothy Yates are freed after fifteen years in an asylum. Edmund covers up for his wife who is a murderer and a cannibal and Dorothy's daughter Debbie and stepdaughter Jackie, ... See full summary »

Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A young couple out for a walk decide to take a stroll through a large cemetery. As darkness begins to fall they realize they can't find their way out, and soon their fears begin to overtake them.

Director: Jean Rollin
Stars: Françoise Pascal, Hugues Quester, Natalie Perrey
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Horror thriller set in 17th century England about the children of a village slowly converting into a coven of devil worshipers.

Director: Piers Haggard
Stars: Patrick Wymark, Linda Hayden, Barry Andrews
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A man inherits a mansion, which once was a mental home. He visits the place and begins to investigate some crimes that happened in old times, scaring the people living in the region.

Director: Theodore Gershuny
Stars: Patrick O'Neal, James Patterson, Mary Woronov
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A woman recovering from a car accident in which she lost her unborn child finds herself pursued by a coven of devil worshipers.

Director: Sergio Martino
Stars: George Hilton, Edwige Fenech, Ivan Rassimov
Sole Survivor (1984)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A lone survivor of a plane crash is haunted by a feeling unworthy of survival. Dead people start coming after her to collect her.

Director: Thom Eberhardt
Stars: Anita Skinner, Kurt Johnson, Robin Davidson
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An American journalist in Prague searches for his girlfriend who has suddenly disappeared.

Director: Aldo Lado
Stars: Ingrid Thulin, Jean Sorel, Mario Adorf
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In London, the Italian gym teacher Enrico 'Henry' Rosseni is having a love affair with his eighteen year-old student Elizabeth Seccles, who is the daughter of the owner of the Catholic ... See full summary »

Director: Massimo Dallamano
Stars: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbó, Karin Baal
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An American group of exchange students come to Paris to study the language and culture for a year. The film depicts the various interactions between the students and the instructors, ... See full summary »

Director: Willard Huyck
Stars: Miles Chapin, Blanche Baker, David Marshall Grant
Axe (1974)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Three criminals on a murder spree arrives at a farmhouse, where a girl is living with her paralyzed grandfather.

Director: Frederick R. Friedel
Stars: Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Ray Green
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Arletty (as Mariana Hill)
...
...
...
Joseph Lang
...
...
Bennie Robinson ...
Morgan Fisher ...
Unknown
Emma Truckman ...
Unknown
Dyanne Asimow ...
Unknown (as Dyanne Simon)
Herb Margolis ...
Unknown
Alex Michaels ...
Unknown
Laurie Charlap-Hyman ...
Unknown
Edit

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 you won't want to remember - In a film you won't be able to forget. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead People  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

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 »


Soundtracks

Amazing Grace
(uncredited)
Lyrics by John Newton
[Sung by (Joy Bang)]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Mesmerizing horror film!
23 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

DEAD PEOPLE (or MESSIAH OF EVIL) is one of those rare horror films that comes along only a few instances in one's lifetime. I had heard about it years ago but never sought it, mostly because of the really bad reviews it got (Michael Weldon says it's crap in his Psychotronic book) but after deciding to check it out and paying only 4 bucks for the DVD, I have to say that all those naysayers were wrong. Really wrong.

I was totally knocked-out by this forgotten film. Everything about it is mesmerizing. The thing I was impressed the most about DEAD PEOPLE is the mood. I've rarely seen a horror this darkly moody, not since SUSPIRIA. Horror fans looking for gore or fast paced action or even the standard way horror films are usually made (high body count, an unstoppable killer, etc) will be disappointed by DEAD PEOPLE. It's none of those things.

DEAD PEOPLE is directed like a nightmare and everything about it is disorienting. There's almost no familiar point of reference in the movie. Everything about it is deliberately done as to make the viewers feel like they cannot relate to what's going on, which is probably why this film looks like a failure to many. But for me, the effect is fantastic. This "disorientating" technique is very common now, with celebrated filmmakers, such as David Lynch, who have made entire careers utilizing this style of film-making.

Take the threesome for instance, played by Michael Greer, Joy Bang and the luscious Anitra Ford. When was the last time you saw a threesome in a horror film? This threesome could have easily been used to titillate fans of horror or exploitation films but it is shown matter-of-factly and yet, to most people, a threesome is still not something they're comfortable with. The "matter-of-fact" way the threesome is portrayed might indicate to many that their characters are poorly written when it's the opposite. The fact that the movie never delves into the most salacious aspects of a threesome tells me more about what the filmmakers believed was important to the story than anything else.

But these incidental, disorienting aspects of the story do not even begin to explain the non-clichéd horror aspects of DEAD PEOPLE, which can only be described as beautiful. Something horrific is going on in town. People are turning into "dead people", not because they were bitten by a vampire or a zombie, but because of some unseen force. The creeping terror that occurs in DP is not that different than what happens in something like THE BIRDS or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, sans cold war paranoia. Thanks to the spooky voice overs, one from the daughter and one from the father, we learn that the unseen force affect people through the mind or soul (the father, who's an artist, is aware of this unseen force and it affects his art. Brilliant!) Comparing DEAD PEOPLE to other films is sorta a disservice because this is a totally original film. Unlike so many horror movies, the horror elements in DEAD PEOPLE are not used by the filmmakers to "punish" the characters but to create a nightmarish world, which oddly enough, because of the subtle way the creeping terror unfolds, makes the movie look more real than real.

The acting from everyone rangs from OK to pretty good, with Michael Greer being a revelation. He has a very commanding presence. It's a shame his film career never amounted to much. And Anitra Ford is ridiculously hot. I've rarely seen such a sensuous woman in movies. Again, it's a shame her career went nowhere. The music is low key but effective. The cinematography is excellent. The amazing use of depth of field enhances the nightmarish goings on. The only thing that's bad is the song at the end. It just doesn't fit the rest of the movie.

For a film that's supposed to be bad, there are several stand-out scenes in it. About 6 or 7. That's a lot! Most have already mentioned those stand-out scenes here (at the supermarket and cinema) but there are others: at the beginning, at the gas station. When the daughter finds her father's notes. Joy Bang looking at the paintings when getting ready to sleep. The scene when the cops start shooting at people. And the dead people crashing though skylight. The sound effects are a little weak during that scene but the whole moment is still powerful.

I hope one day this film will be completely restored and maybe be re-released on the big screen, which would rock. If your a fan of horror and love atmospheric, moody, nightmarish horror films make sure to check out DEAD PEOPLE. It's simply mesmerizing!


35 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 74 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial