Screen Slate & Steak Mtn. Present | Death Takes A Holiday: Messiah of Evil
Horror | 1974 | 90MIN
Elisha Cook Jr.
Like H.P. Lovecraft’s “Shadow Over Innsmouth” transposed to the west coast, Messiah of Evil operates on the same kind of eerie dream logic as Carnival of Souls and Night Tide. A young woman travels to the coastal SoCal town of Point Dune in search of her father, a reclusive artist, only to find the entire area completely deserted. In his studio she locates a series of distressed audio recordings describing a darkness falling on the town, whose residents only come out at night to stand by seaside fires, staring at the moon while anticipating the arrival of an unspeakable evil—and feeding on any outsider who strays through. After languishing unseen for decades, Messiah of Evil is now appreciated as a classic of the genre. It’s the rare film that manages to have it both ways between measured artiness and exploitation excess, creepy atmosphere and explicit gore. Husband and wife Huyck and Katz went on to write American Graffiti and the first two Indiana Jones movies, and art director Jack Fisk has since worked almost exclusively with David Lynch and Terrence Malick.
Part of Screen Slate & Steak Mtn. Present: Death Takes a Holiday