Messy “Messiah”

Messy “Messiah”

Messiah of Evil (1973) is a semi-coherent zombie flick with some Ancient Evil and a lot of art damage. Arletty, played by Marianna Hill, goes floundering into a little California beach town looking for her father, who is some kind of artist. Along the way she meets an albino guy with a pickup full of dead people; Thom the Suit-Wearing Weirdo and his two groupies; and Elisha Cook, Jr. as the town wino.

There is a whole lot of plot that mostly consists of flashbacks and the reading of diaries and it gets mighty tedious.

Then there is some pretty decent zombitation, beginning with the cuter of the two groupies becoming the manager’s special at the grocery store.

These are pretty clever zombies — they can build fires on the beach to signal The Dark Man, or Messiah of Evil if you prefer. They run the movie projector at the theater, and patiently wait for Groupie #2 to finish her popcorn before they attack.

The flick suffers from Antonioni Syndrome — characters wandering around visually striking sets, talking in circles.

Somebody probably thought there was some kind of art being made.

Hill never gets nekkid, which is a shame — and, of course, an automatic one-coil deduction.

It loses another coil for Frequent Fast-Forward.

So two coils, which is generous.

Rule #1 — Never hang out at the meat counter at the market in a town you suspect might have a significant zombie community

Rule #2 — Do not let directors who have watched a lot of Antonioni movies anywhere near an Arriflex.

Rule #3 — If you are the only person in the theater eating popcorn, something’s amiss.

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