Messiah of Evil

Messiah of Evil ★★★★

Hooptober 5.0 - 2018 - Film #35

Arletty (Marianna Hill) heads to a small coastal town in search of her reclusive father. She finds his abode, but he is nowhere to be found. She starts looking for clues as to his whereabouts but there is something not quite right about this town.

Some Notes:

- Arletty is a surprisingly cool name. I always thought it was an ugly name (sorry, to all the Arlettys out there) but now I think it has a pleasant ring to it.

- Arlettty's father is an artist. His bedroom is plastered with interesting murals and populated by black and white effigies. The bed is suspended from the ceiling by chains at each corner, which is kind of funky. It looks inspired by one of the modernist apartment building interiors you might find in a Giallo, but the images make it an even greater curiosity.

- There is a hella mad scene where one of the characters walks into a brightly lit supermarket. Amongst its rows and rows of processed foods, our attention is finally brought to the butchers section. In this moment, the true nature of the town's horror is strikingly presented. It is redolent of a scene in Night of the Living, but in the setting of Dawn of the Dead.

- Elisha Cook Jr. has a cool little scene where he acts as a soothsayer with crazy eyes that conveys some of the history of the town and then portends some onrushing doom. Speaking of which, I have never seen a horror movie that has exploited the Donner party as a device. It is employed only slightly and kept simple, but it is effective.

- There is a tall albino-looking bad guy with eyes that are too close together (Bennie Robinson). He is one ugly motherfucker. In one scene, when he shoves a complete mouse in his mouth and chomps on it like an aperitif, it doesn't help his image none. Bennie Robinson could have made for a bad ass character actor in horror but as far as I can tell this is the only movie he was in.

- There are a few good looking babes in this film. There is a persistent promise of nudity, what with open shirts and bare panties and all, but they never deliver the goods. I have always said to myself that I am not a perve and that the nudity is merely incidental in the films I watch. But maybe I am kidding myself because to be honest I was kind of hoping those clothes would make an exit stage left.

- The film has its flaws but it manages to rise above them by creating a pervading sense of doom, turning the sleepy coastal town into a creepy little place that puts you on edge. There is also ample mystery in the first half as they withhold from us the manifestation of the titular evil (Werewolves? Vampires? Zombies? What is it? Tell me, tell me, tell me! - first act summary), and it also keeps you in suspense as to fate of Arletty's father.

- The final act devolves into something more rote and as such lost my engagement a little but I still think it a great film.

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