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MARIANNA HILL WITH JOY BANG & ANITRA FORD 'MESSIAH OF EVIL'

Title: MESSIAH OF EVIL Year: 1974 Rating: ***1/2

Directing married couple (and future George Lucas collaborators) Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's arthouse horror MESSIAH OF EVIL has hauntingly gorgeous scream-queen Marianna Hill's narrated story-line about the search for her artist father at a beach community, pieced together in long sequences of gothic dialogue and neatly combined with three of the most eerily suspenseful moments of low-budget exploitation cinema... 

Wherein monotone Michael Greer seems to be the title character, a stranger holed-up at her daddy's pad with two lovely girls, Anitra Ford and Joy Bang, each making their own separate horror-trope mistake of leaving an otherwise safe location to venture out alone... in this case into the small beach town, inland from a wave-lapping, moon-lit beach...

Joy Bang in MESSIAH OF EVIL

After getting a lift from a towering black albino (his mere casting is exploitation itself), who had already turned up in an earlier gas station sequence setting the tense, anything-can-happen tone, Ford goes into a Ralphs supermarket, coming across a group of shoppers... until it's revealed they're ghouls eating body parts... turning their tastes onto the doomed beauty, anticipating an upcoming sequence involving Joy Bang in an initially vacant movie theater that fills up slowly, methodically... until she's surrounded by the same eye-bleeding antagonists that'd already devoured her friend: only far more subtle and methodically nightmarish... 

And while the rest of MESSIAH OF EVIL (mostly involving a foreboding Michael Greer and final girl Hill in the primary location surrounded by spooky artwork) exudes the right amount of atmospheric tension, it's regrettable there weren't more pretty young side-starlets to lead the viewer into other creatively-shot living-dead death sequences — so we wouldn't have to wait so long in-between the really great parts.

Anitra Ford and Joy Bang in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL with Charles Dierkop
Future director Walter Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Anitra Ford in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Joy Bang and Michael Greer in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
From MESSIAH OF EVIL
Joy Bang in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Royal Dano in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Marianna Hill in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Anitra Ford in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Elijah Cook Jr. in MESSIAH OF EVIL
Bennie Robinson in MESSIAH OF EVIL


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