10/29/18 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE PICK #29 – Messiah of Evil.

Here’s a movie that has kind of been lost to time, and that’s a shame. Unless you’re a hardcore horror fan, or a classic film guru, you’re more than likely not going to know the ethereal, dread-filled film that is 1973’s Messiah of Evil, but you should. This movie is absolutely chock full of artistry, mood and atmosphere. Plus, there’s an unnerving creep factor in every frame of this film. I simply love it for all these reasons. Messiah of Evil starts out with a young woman searching for her missing father. He left for a small artist colony in California (Point Dume, just north of where I live) and has apparently disappeared. We follow her journey in trying to piece together where he is, and what’s happened to him. What she begins to discover is that this “artist colony” isn’t exactly what it appears to be. As she tries to piece together some answers, she comes across a traveling threesome, who are also trying to figure out the secrets of this town. And away we go. Messiah of Evil is one of those early 70’s films where the art and the “openness” of the time period is in full display. With our modern day minds, there’s an oddness to the free love aspect of the trio she meets, but in a way it adds to the strange artist vibe that runs through this entire movie. And to me that’s what sets Messiah of Evil apart — the art. Art is everywhere. The angles of shots, the colors of each frame, and even the strangely placed music, all have an artistic feel. Filling her father’s house are all sorts of pop art murals and paintings that create such a striking visual aesthetic that sometimes you can’t tell what’s a human and what’s a painting. For a movie that begins to delve into crazy (almost Lovecraftian) mythology like blood moons, a “dark stranger”, and cannibalism (even touching on the Donner Party scenario), it’s amazing how it never feels like exploitation. Instead it all feels rather… artistic. Even the creepy zombie-like townspeople have an artistic uniqueness to them. Messiah of Evil is one of those “dream-like” movies where sometimes things happen in strange ways, or with a lack of direct explanation, so if that isn’t for you, move on. But for me personally, the dream-like quality, that flows with a constant narration of her father’s diary as he falls into madness, is intoxicating. If you enjoy surreal, artistic movies, Messiah of Evil is fantastic 70’s odyssey into madness. Give this hidden gem a view.

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