Twelve Hours of Terror: Messiah of Evil

Messiah of Evil (1973), dir. Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz. International Cine Film Corp.

The second offering of terror is a rarely seen gem from the same minds behind American Graffiti and Howard the Duck, so you know it must be terrifying beyond human endurance.  We open with a woman named Arletty (Marianna Hill), who has come to the remote hamlet of Point Dune in search of her father, whom she has not seen in some time.

All she finds is her father’s abandoned house and his diary, where he writes about feeling no pain and having a temperature of 85 degrees. After inquiring in town leads nowhere, Arletty finds the mysterious Thom (Michael Greer) and his two assistants. Thom is in town checking out a local legend about a bloody moon that appears once every hundred years and allows evil to run rampant. The group pools their resources together and tries to figure out what is going on, as undead horrors prowl the streets at night.

Stylish and very 1970’s in its presentation, Messiah of Evil does bring to mind the Three Mothers series by Dario Argento, if for no other reason than the film’s refusal to explain anything. A character vomits up beetles! Why? Who knows, zombies are attacking! Characters aren’t what they seem, except when they are, but then they die so who cares? Certainly possessing a visual flare, Messiah of Evil is dream-like. Vivid and haunting, yet evaporates upon waking. The film is presently in the public domain and was recently released onto DVD.

“In Order to Live, They will Take You One by One…and No One Will Hear You Scream!”