A new Blu-Ray of the wonderfully obscure and strange 1970s horror film Messiah of Evil recently dropped and I will never stop being a huge champion of this gem. This new transfer is a cult horror fan's dream. After having first experienced this film, having never heard of it or had any idea what it was, on one of those dvds with 20 badly transferred films on it, where all the films seem like they were recovered from a decade spent at the bottom of a swamp, seeing this film restored and in high definition is actually mind-blowing. The Bava/Argento influence is even more apparent, the hyperreal colors deep and clear. The hypnotic synth soundtrack hovers over everything, the restoration of the audio tracks is nothing short of amazing.
Messiah of Evil, for my money, is an absolute top-five 70’s horror film. It’s a truly liminal film. Strange areas of modern life not often explored in the horror film provide the background of Messiah of Evil.. Isolated gas stations lit by fluorescent lights lost in huge oceans of darkness. The unnerving quiet of empty grocery stores. Streets empty and full of closed stores. I think the only film from that era that can compete with the strange midnight atmospherics of Messiah of Evil may be Phantasm. Both films are completely devoted to their surrealist logic and lack of explanation.
Messiah of Evil is like a nightmare of horror films. Messiah of Evil is every half-remembered horror film you caught late at night and passed out halfway through. The next day when you think of the film, you can not figure out what was the actual film and what was your dream of the film That is Messiah of Evil. It is like something out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, it assimilates the best parts of other horror films and stories and makes something new and strange out of them. It is a precursor to Dawn of the Dead and its tying of capitalism to undead flesh eaters. It pays homage to H.P. Lovecraft and his cured seaside towns and protagonists who start to lose their grip on reality. The fog and gothic atmosphere of Dark Shadows is also here. The demonic possession as a virus or infection from Evil Dead runs through this film. A subplot recalls the southern gothic of Night of the Hunter. The hysteric female survivor of some nightmare recalls Shock Waves and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2. Somehow it references the horror genre yet feels so fresh and innovative. Messiah of Evil is an absolute classic of the horror genre and the new Blu-Ray from Radience Films is a must-buy.