Wednesday, October 10, 2012


If I could nominate a movie for Best Overlooked and Underrated Horror Film of the 70s. It would be Messiah of Evil from 1972. Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who were friends of George Lucas. They later wrote the screenplay for American Graffiti.

This film has a Lovecraftian story line with elements of Night of the Living Dead and a stylish Italian art film look. The film stars Marianna Hill, as a woman looking for her missing father played by Royal Dano, of Twin Peaks and just about every Western every made. She travels to a small, sea side community to find him.

She falls in with a handsome arts patron and ladies man named Tom, played by Michael Greer (Above). Interesting fact about Michael Greer, he was an openly gay actors/comedian in the 70s. His first major movie role was in a movie called The Gay Deceivers. After that some the trailers to his next few movies referred to him as "the fairy godmother" and "fairy queen." As far as I know, Stepin Fetchit didn't have to deal with this kind of infamy. He is great as Tom. One critic says he looks like the fourth Bee Gee in this stylish 70s suits. He kind of gives off a Peter Fonda vibe to me.

Tom has two girlfriends living with him. One is the cute Joy Bang (there is a porn name if I ever heard one) and sexy Anitra Ford, who was a Price Is Right model at the time. Also in the mix is Elisha Cook Junior as a creepy servant (Did the man play anything else?). Also I should mention Bennie Robinson, an African- American Albino, who plays a truck driver, who leads the zombies. His great scene in the film is when he eats a live rat while listening to Wagner.

This film has some effective zombie scenes such when Joy Bang is killed in a movie theater and Anita Ford is killed in a Ralph's Supermarket, after discovering a group of zombies eating raw meat from the meat case. For retro fans, this scene is great in that it features an automatic door with a rubber mat, that doesn't open when Anitra Ford stomps on it repeatedly. Also she dies to the strains of bad, syrupy supermarket music.
Another great scene is when cops trying to disperse an attacking mob of zombies realize that another officer is a zombie.

The look of the film is interesting because some of the pop art Tom collects. It is of life-sized, gray scale photos of people, which seem to be watching in disapproval in the background of every scene. The film also uses bright colors and bright lighting rather than dark tones and underlit scenes.

This film has turned up in several Mill Creek horror movie collection as well as other cheep public domain DVDs. It can also be watched for free on You Tube. It is a great film that you will not be disappointed in. 

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