Gymnopedie’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had bought the Mill Creek Chilling Classics 50 movie pack a few years ago and I had noticed that Messiah of Evil (1973) was included in it but for one reason or another I never wanted to watch it. Fast forward to last years October Challenge and I was running out options to watch - so I half-heartedly decided to watch it. Well, needless to say, I didn't regret it, and even tho the copy wasn't the best in the world - it didn't damper my enjoyment of it, far from it. It was a great find and if I were to compile a Top 10 of my favorite horror films of the top of my head, then this would undoubtedly make the cut.
Messiah of Evil is about a young woman who searches for her missing father after he abruptly and unexpectedly stops communication with her. When she arrives at a picturesque seaside home, where her father lived, she finds that the residents of the town are bizarre. She arrived with a hippie couple who are curiously attracted to the strange town. Together, the soon find out that the town is crawling with a flesh-eating cult.
There are a few unforgettable scenes that are genuinely scary that leave an expression: like the supermarket scene and, of course, who can forget the movie theatre scene, both outstanding. The director, Willard Huyck, I have to say does a really splendid job in creating this almost dream-like vibe for the film and it doesn't let up. It is psychedelic. The story kinda reminded me of an old H.P. Lovecraft tale. The atmosphere is unrelentingly grim and I can only describe it as intense and an nightmarish dread. It is creepy as hell and it is full of very strange and memorable characters.
What I like most about it - is it's ambiguity. We're never terribly sure if the "creatures" are zombies, ghouls, vampires or just cannibals or something else and no loose ends are tied by the end of the film either. It is shamefully still obscure among the numerous bad low-budget drive-in horror flicks of the 70's, it doesn't deserve it. I seen it late at night and I was pretty tired but I will never forget it. Messiah of Evil is one of a few horror movies that I truly found scary and I seen a lot.