Thursday, 30 October 2014

For Halloween


A scene from the film, Messiah of Evil (1973)
Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz



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I first saw Messiah of Evil over a year ago, but it slipped my grasp.  As with William Peter Blatty's similarly surreal and brilliant The Ninth Configuration (1980), also viewed in 2013, I was simply unable to write anything substantial about it, at the time.  This scene - which significantly presents a murder in a cinema (very self-referential) and riffs on a more famous sequence from Hitchcock's colossal The Birds (1963) - really does deserve to be thought of as one of the greatest of horror set-pieces.

The film, a precursor in its ornate and often fantastical look to the Technicolor terrors of Dario Argento movies, such as Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), as well as the nocturnal suburban nightmares of David Lynch, post Dune (1984), is, for me, one of the strangest and most compelling America horror movies of the "grindhouse" era.  That it isn't ranked alongside films by Romero, Carpenter, Corman and Craven remains a mystery of epic proportions.