Messiah of Evil aka Dead People
September 10, 2011 10:48 PM   Subscribe

1973's Messiah of Evil (aka Dead People, aka Revenge of the Screaming Dead) (trailer) is arguably the greatest Lovecraftian arthouse zombie movie ever to be written and directed by Oscar-nominee friends of George Lucas.

Despite finding belated release (albeit not with original ending) after writer/director duo Willard Hyuck & Gloria Katz's catapulting to fame with American Graffiti, MoE's cryptic plot, languid pace, psychedelic mise en scène and refusal to conform to the model of sub-Romero exploitation flicks would doom its chances of commercial appeal at time of release. Internet-era reappraisals of the film, however, would find merit in its uniqueness; equal parts zombie movie, slasher flick, eerie psycho-thriller and artsy student effort, all combined under a potent atmosphere of dread akin to only a few contemporary underappreciated releases.

Of particular note to zombie academics may be the film's pioneering of the running zombie, as well as the appearance of jumping, falling, fighting, shopping and cinema-ambush-orchestrating varieties of same.

Having slipped out of copyright and into the public domain, the film can be viewed online in its entirety.

In honour of Code Red's DVD release of the film, the creators gave their recollections about the production (intercut with minor spoilers)...

Remembering Messiah of Evil pt. 1

Remembering Messiah of Evil pt. 2
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee (8 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Just to clarify, this is NOT about "Howard the Duck," right?
posted by ShutterBun at 11:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nice post, Kandarp VB. I first saw this just two years ago, expecting maybe the charm of a b-movie, and was taken enough by its singular atmosphere to rewatch it several times since. The charm is there, amidst some nearly haunted scenes.
posted by methinks at 11:17 PM on September 10, 2011

A cut-rate 50ish-movie box set DVD purchase at Best Buy a few years back, the kind where they all come double-sided in sleeves and are awful, has become one of my most prized possessions just for the re-watch value of this one movie. Honestly, the awful transfer makes it more color-saturated and psychedelic, and the Shadow Over Innsmouth parallels never hurt either.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 11:58 PM on September 10, 2011

There's always one good flick in those sets.
And a treasure trove of great bad ones if you are like me and love that stuff.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:24 AM on September 11, 2011

I will be passing this information along to my husband, who is a zombie academic if I ever saw one.
posted by fancyoats at 6:32 AM on September 11, 2011

Wow, how have I never heard of this? Hooray for new old weird zombie flicks to sit up late and watch! *grabs popcorn and feetie pajamas*
posted by Aversion Therapy at 7:04 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I saw this. The scene in the supermarket and the scene in the movie theatre are chilling and pure creepiness. I recommend it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:10 PM on September 11, 2011

I just watched the movie because of this post. What a great movie -- it shows why I sit in the very, very back of a movie theater.

I can't wait for the Portland Lovecraft festival at the end of the month! And if anybody lives near San Pedro, CA, apparently they're doing the same(ish) festival there this weekend, but with Guillermo del Toro as a guest judge.
posted by narwhal bacon at 10:10 PM on September 11, 2011

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