Sunday, August 24, 2008

Messiah of Evil (1972)

I love the seventies. It was a decade of long feathered hair, exposed skin, luscious lips, hip hugging pants (on women!), and...ahem...lack of grooming in certain areas. If you catch my drift. It was also a decade, apparently, where the guy (Willard Hyuck) that made one of the worst pictures of all time (Howard the Duck) could, somehow create something not quite as awful. Those were the fucking times.

I actually rue the fact that I didn't come of age in the seventies. I probably would have lost my virginity at about fifteen (as opposed to an age resembling something much later than that) to a buxom teacher's assistant or someone resembling Farrah Fawcet. Instead, I came of age when all the "cute" girls had high unmoveable hair, makeup caked faces, and yellow stained fingers from chain smoking marlboro reds. Whatever, I got screwed. Anyway, I watched this picture called Messiah of Evil which features an actress more beautiful than the lovely (then, certainly not now) Ms. Fawcet. I'm referring to Anitra Ford who is probably most famous for being an original "Price is Right" girl which, unfortunately, means she got fucked by Bob Barker. She gets fucked in this movie too. Literaly and then figuratively as she's eaten by a horde of cannibals inside the supermarket (not that uncommon an occurrence within the town center of Point Dune).

Messiah of Evil evokes Lovecraft with its use of an isolated coastal town and also its constant use of inner monologues. Unlike those Lovecraft stories that are good, it's interminable to sit through at times. A woman with one of oddest names for a main character ever, Arletty (Marianna Hill) travels back home to the town of Point Dune to find out what has become of her father, who after sending her some disturbing letters (also Lovecraftian) went missing. Her father, an artist, lived in a house by the shore. The walls of his home are adorned with paintings of ordinary people who appear to be doing nothing more than watching. In fact, one of my favorite scenes is when another young woman (this pic is full of em) is taking a bath (in a tub clearly constructed for this picture) and a group of people are painted on the wall as if they're her audience. The set design, for the most part, is terrific.

Like many Lovecraft tales (think "Shadows over Innsmouth") something is clearly not right in the town. First of all, there's a white guy, with black features, driving around in his pickup and killing people. Probably the first clue. Arletty, on the way into town, stops at a gas station where the attendant is seen firing a pistol blindly into the night. It's hilarious when he notices her pull up; He puts his gun in his pants and carries on as if everything is fine. Then the white-black guy shows up with a truck full of bodies (unbeknownst to Arletty) and murders the attendant as soon as she leaves.

Basically, what we have here is a zombie film. There are hints at some sort of infection, although this is never made clear. In the pictures best scene, another poor young woman decides to attend a film in town, a film which is clearly the worst edited western of all time. She sits down and notices one or two others in the theater. Slowly, more file in until the theater is full. It's a perfectly set up scene that really comes to a climax as soon as the young woman realizes that not one of them is watching the movie on screen. Unfortunately, for every scene like this, we are treated to a scene that just goes on and on and on, with zero sense of pacing. The grocery store scene I referenced above is great and all, but unfortunately, there's some awkward stilted stuff that leads up to it. Tighter pacing and a few dropped subplots would have resulted in a great little picture. Oh, and maybe a new director too...and a few more breasts.

It's a film worth checking out. For seventies horror, you could do much much worse (and also much much better). The performances are all pretty solid including Michael Greer who shows up at the house with a couple of hot broads (threesome?). Unfortunately, I watched the copy that came with my "50 Chilling Classics" movie pack so it's very possible some of the gore was edited out. A couple of the cuts during the flesh eating were a little too quick. Strange that they left in the scene where Arletty vomited up bugs (including what I think may have been a scorpion). Oh yeah, there's stuff about an actual messiah of evil who comes out of the sea every century or so and causes the moon to turn blood red. I think he was a crazy preacher that hooked up with the Donner party. Whatever. I did manage to make a few "jokes" while watching this such as "if I were a zombie would I be so picky as to insist on breast meat?" and "would eating a guy make me gay?"


elmo said...

Sounds doable with a pile of comics in front of me, for the slow parts. Also, can't wait to see the white negro!

brian said...

Too bad it's not available via netflix. I'll have to bring in my copy.

Basically, this movie has two great scenes, a couple unintentially hilarious ones, and then lots of filler. You could read at least a pile of comics during those parts.