As the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 4th annual Scary Movies series reaches its frenzied climax this weekend, do check out Willard Huyck’s beloved 1973 curio Messiah of Evil, on Sunday at 2. It’s also set to play tonight (at last check) at midnight at Williamsburg’s new, tiny Spectacle Theater (more on which soon).
Slapdash and silly, but also moodily shot and chillingly barren, this cult favorite explores the terrors of Lovecraftian madness, reawakened Donner Party cannibalism, and bad Pop Art wallpaper. The plot concerns strange zombie/vampire cult activities in a Californian seaside town. The great Jack Fisk was an art designer, and there are two stunning, barbarous set pieces, one in a grocery store, the other in a blood-red movie theater. Lazy shots of bugs and salamanders in drains, and ad nauseam repetitions of blood streaming from characters’ orifices do wear, but the overall effect is satisfyingly disconcerting. Elisha Cook Jr., of course, appears as a wise drunk.