Saturday, June 10, 2023

Messiah of Evil (1974)

I decided to watch something from 50 years ago by selecting a title from my 1973 movies and landed on Messiah of Evil. It wasn't until I went to write this post that I realized the incorrect date was listed on the Film Detective DVD, and it had actually been released in 1974. If not for that error, I may have been writing about Jesus Christ Superstar today instead. It seems to be an era for messianic movies.

"A hundred years ago, the moon started turning red up in the sky and things began to happen. It was like the redder the moon got up there, the closer the people were being jerked toward hell. Well, the people started bleeding out of control. They found children eating raw meat. It was like the town was festering with an open sore, until the night that they...until the night they came down out of the canyon and..."

The Gist

Arletty hasn't heard from her father in a while, so she decides to travel to the seaside town of Point Dume where he lives his best artist life. When she arrives, she finds only his studio, populated with his artistic caricatures, and his diary, which notes odd occurrences in the townspeople and strange changes in himself. She meets up with Thom and his two gal pals during an interview with a wild-eyed Elisha Cook Jr., who shares an interesting account of his birth before he recounts some lore about a blood red moon that occurred a hundred years ago when a dark stranger arrived. Some time later, Arletty learns the dark stranger had been traveling with the Donner party and had sampled human flesh. This stranger is now destined to return on the hundredth anniversary as his undead disciples light fires on the beach and stare up at the sky to await his arrival, at which time they will help spread his Donner inspired religion. 

Memorable Moments

"I'm as old as the hills. mama delivered me herself. She took me from between her legs. Bloody little mess. Just about to feed me to the chickens. And daddy said, 'Maybe we could use a boy, Lotte.' That's how I came into the world."

"Don't be afraid. I'm an ugly old man, but I'm harmless."

My Thoughts

This is a visually stunning movie with unsettling music and a surrealistic feel. The action is disjointed and has a nightmarish quality. It has the same vibe as Let's Scare Jessica to Death while also channeling elements from Night of the Living Dead. There is no explanation for who Thom is, or why he's decided to travel to Point Dume to learn more about the legend of the blood moon with a former model, who used to pose for exotic photos with snakes, and dope smoking jailbait, who sleeps with her Raggedy Ann. There is a strong resemblance between him and the dark stranger, which may suggest he is somehow related, and could explain his interest in the legend. My favorite scene is in the movie theater as it slowly fills with what appears to be extras wandering in from Carnival of Souls. It's a creepy movie that deserves cult status. I recommend seeing it if you're a fan of 70s horror. You can watch it on The Film Detective YouTube channel here:


Brian Schuck said...

I agree completely, this is one surrealistic gem of a B movie. I'd argue that it does have something of a minor cult status, but considering that it's one of the better and more original horror films of the '70s, it deserves all the attention it can get.

Christine said...

I had not heard much about it before, so I was surprised to discover it is one of the more interesting and enjoyable horror films of the 70s.

It seems to be getting some attention after all. A limited edition blu-ray with 4K restoration will be released by Radiance films.