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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Messiah of Evil: The Second Coming" or "Dead People" or "Revenge of the Screaming Dead"

 or "The Second Coming" or "Return of the Living Dead" )

 

Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz 
USA 1973

 

Arletty (Marianna Hill, THE GODFATHER II) travels to dying coastal village Point Dune looking for her artist father but finds that he has disappeared. When she makes inquiries at a gallery, she learns that two women and a man have also been asking about him. She meats the beatnik trio (Michael Greer, Anitra Ford, and Joy Bang) as they are interviewing a tramp (Elisha Cook, Jr.) relating the grisly legend of Point Dune foretelling the return of "The Stranger" when the moon turns blood red. Thrown out of their motel, the trio shack up with Arletty at her father's seaside house and form a foursome of sexual tension. As they delve into Arletty's father's disappearance, the townspeoples' eyes have started bleeding and they've developed a taste for raw meat. Although it has its share of gore and zombie action, MESSIAH OF EVIL is an underrated horror film with a laid-back 70's semi-arthouse atmosphere. Huyck and Katz cite Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA as an influence which is believable as they claim not to have seen horror films similar to MESSIAH like CARNIVAL OF SOULS, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH but cite shot references to PIERROT LE FOU and the heroine being named after a character from Pagnol's CHILDREN OF PARADISE. The film's horror themes draw less from horror films than from literature, specifically Lovecraft with references to "the old gods." Although not well-received by critics at the time of its release (first as RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD for which it was served with a lawsuit and the title changed to DEAD PEOPLE and then MESSIAH OF EVIL - the title seen in the L.A. montage of Woody Allen's ANNIE HALL) - with the exception of Sight and Sound critic Robin Wood - MESSIAH OF EVIL has achieved a cult following through pan-and-scan video prints and more recent repertory screenings in scope. Fans of off-beat horror and arthouse pretense will enjoy this admirable little sleeper.

Eric Cotenas

***

After receiving a series of chilling letters from her reclusive father, Arletty (Mariana Hill, High Plains Drifter) drives to the remote seaside town of Pointe Dune to discover the reason for her father's developing madness. Upon her arrival, she encounters a mysterious trio of strangers investigating a local legend known as "The Blood Moon"... a curse that has transformed the inhabitants of the town into a terrifying horde of blood-thirsty maniacs! Also starring Michael Greer (Fortune and Men's Eyes), cult starlets Joy Bang and Anitra Ford, and screen legends Royal Dano and Elisha Cook, Jr., Messiah Of Evil is a unique shocker from the minds of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (Oscar-nominated screenwriters of American Graffiti). A visual masterpiece finally brought to home video in its original scope aspect ratio, Messiah Of Evil is unlike any horror film you've ever seen. Enter Pointe Dune and prepare to be spellbound...

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 2nd, 1973

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                         DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Code Red - Region FREE - NTSC vs. Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD Screen captures!

Box Cover

 

  

 

 

Bonus Captures:

 

Re-issued in the UK by Radiance in March 2024:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray Radiance- Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:29:42       1:29:49.384         1:29:48.466    
Video

2.34:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.36 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,525,888,807 bytes

Feature: 17,444,143,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,740,915,647 bytes

Feature: 26,436,523,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate DVD:

Bitrate Code Red Blu-ray:

Bitrate Radiance Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1706 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1706 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1706 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1706 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -30dB

Subtitles None None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.34:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, moderated by Lee Christian
• REMEMBERING MESSIAH OF EVIL documentary by Lee Christian (4:3; 21:41)
• Audio interview with actress Joy Bang (8:52)
• THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE short film (16:9; 7:38)
• DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS short film (4:3; 13:52)
• THE STATUE trailer (16:9; 2:27)
• BRUTE CORPS TV spot (16:9; 0:33)
• CHOKE CANYON trailer (16:9; 2:01)
• NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER trailer (4:3; 2:24)
• RITUALS trailer (16:9; 1:58)
• STUNT ROCK trailer (16:9; 2:25)
• FAMILY HONOR TV spot (16:9; 0:31)

DVD Release Date: October 27th, 2009
Amaray

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Code Red

 

2.35:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,525,888,807 bytes

Feature: 17,444,143,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Commentary by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz
Remembering Messiah of Evil (21: 41)
Short Films of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (21:31)


Blu-ray Release Date:
November 2014
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 9

 

Release Information:
Studio:
Radiance

 

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,740,915,647 bytes

Feature: 26,436,523,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Audio commentary by critics and horror experts Kim Newman and Stephen Thrower
Archival interview with co-writer-director Willard Huyck by Mike White from the Projection Booth Podcast (37:34)
What the Blood Moon Brings: Messiah of Evil, A New American Nightmare - A documentary feature which explores Messiah of Evil in the context of American independent cinema of the 70s, as well as examining the film's allegiance to several subgenres of horror (56:55)
Visual essay on the American Gothic by critic Kat Ellinger (21:31)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
Limited edition booklet featuring new and archival writing


Blu-ray Release Date:
November 27th, 2023
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Radiance Films Blu-ray (September 2023): Radiance Films have also transferred Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's Messiah of Evil to Blu-ray. Their transfer is cited as being from a "New 2023 restoration from a 4K scan of the best-surviving elements of the film from the Academy Film Archive". It's quite a bump over the 2014 Code Red 1080P. Even without addressing the 75% higher bitrate (on a dual-layered disc) and that the damage marks and cue blips are removed - the image is brighter, more detailed, more consistent textures and has more layered contrast. Radiance Films has done a real service to fans of Messiah of Evil - a gem of a 70's horror.   

NOTE: We have added 84 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Radiance use a linear PCM dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. I can't tell much difference from the strong Code Red audio transfer that features the electronic music of Phillan Bishop (The Severed Arm, Kiss of the Tarantula) and a fair amount of screaming gals. Unlike the Code Red, Radiance Films offers optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

Radiance include many supplements starting with a new audio commentary by, two of our favorites, critics and horror experts Kim Newman (Classic Monsters Unleashed) and Stephen Thrower (author of NIGHTMARE USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents.) There is a lot to talk about Messiah of Evil including connections to George Lucas, exploitation films of the 70's and beyond, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the film's "neglected" and "surreal" horror film status, its labeling in the "the American Nightmare" genre, memorable culty cast plus so much more. There is a 37-minute archival (October 2019) audio-only interview with co-writer-director Willard Huyck by Mike White from the Projection Booth Podcast. Willard discusses his start in filmmaking and other projects. It was conduced over the phone so the sound quality is at the weaker end but highly interesting. What the Blood Moon Brings: Messiah of Evil, A New American Nightmare is an almost-hour long documentary feature which explores Messiah of Evil in the context of American independent cinema of the 70s, as well as examining the film's allegiance to several subgenres of horror. It was directed by Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, written and produced by Kat and has video content from Guy Adams, Dr. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (1000 Women In Horror, 1895-2018), Dr. David Huckvale, Mikel J Koven, and Maitland McDonagh - parts were narrated by Jean-Paul Ouellette. It explores Messiah of Evil in the context of American Independent cinema of the 70s, as well as examining the film's allegiance to several subgenres of horror films through its underlying themes. Lastly is another excellent visual essay by critic Kat Ellinger. It runs 22-minutes and looks at American Gothic and female hysteria. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by 'Time Tomorrow' and a limited edition booklet featuring new and archival writing.

I love Messiah of Evil. Before the opening credits, we get a young Walter Hill (director of Hard Times, The Driver, Streets of Fire etc.) running for his life and killed - then the title appears. Let's look at the model-like 70s gals involved; Marianna Hill (Medium Cool), Joy Bang (Night of the Cobra Woman), and Anitra Ford (Invasion of the Bee Girls) plus two of the classic era guys; Royal Dano (Moby Dick) and Elisha Cook Jr. (The Maltese Falcon, The Killing, Don't Bother to Knock etc. etc.) There are ghoulish, flesh-eating, zombies that evolve into undead preying hordes. They identify themselves when they start bleeding from the eyes. Messiah of Evil doesn't rely too much on the plot which is secondary to all the amazing horror scenes in delightful Techniscope. The grocery store sequence, hinting to consumerism, is worth the price alone. The Radiance Blu-ray has the package the film has always deserved with excellent restored a/v and brilliant extras. Top shelf. Early 70's horror GOLD. Buy or turn into a zombie.

Gary Tooze

***

ADDITION: Code Red Blu-ray (January 2021): Code Red have transferred Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's Messiah of Evil to Blu-ray. So much about this particular film that I love. The 1080P image perks up the colors, detail, contrast - pretty much every visual area improves. The DVD has elongated the image (thinner faces) and is no contest for the Blu-ray in terms of film presentation. Juts like the DVD there are a few frame-specific and visible cue-blips reel-change markers (see below.)    

NOTE: We have added 80 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Code Red use a DTS-HD Master dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. It is another advancement in the film's audio and score featuring the electronic music of Phillan Bishop (The Severed Arm, Kiss of the Tarantula). Like their DVD, Code Red offer no subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Code Red Blu-ray offers the same commentary found on the 2009 DVD with Director Willard Huyck and co-writer Gloria Katz (see Eric's comments below.) Also included is the 22-m,inute documentary with input from director Huyck, co-writer Gloria Katz, editors Morgan Fischer and Billy Weber, mural painter Joan Mocine, and cinematographer Stephan Katz plus the two short films; The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Suitors and Down These Mean Streets. Together they run 22-minutes. So no 'new' supplements but the commentary, documentary and shorts add value to the Blu-ray package. 

Gary Tooze

ON THE DVD (2009): After years of bad pan-scan videos and a compromised 1.85:1 Greek-sourced version, MESSIAH OF EVIL is finally available in its correct Techniscope (2.35:1) aspect ratio and is hellishly beautiful. Anamorphic, progressive, and dual-layer, the transfer retains natural grain and sometimes-intense colors. Seen in widescreen, the compositions are consistently interesting (particularly when live characters are posed against the mural backgrounds of the studio).

Sadly, Code Red did not include as a bonus the theatrical opening and closing sequences where are the same as here but scored with the Raun McKinnon song "Hold On To Love" (added by the producer). Audio has a little hiss but the dialogue and music is always clear. Director Willard Huyck and co-writer Gloria Katz (who collaborated on AMERICAN GRIFFITI) provide an entertaining commentary - moderated by Code Red regular Lee Christian - which conveys both their enthusiasm for the low budget project as well as their disappointment about its obscurity. The documentary features input from director Huyck, co-writer Gloria Katz, editors Morgan Fischer and Billy Weber, mural painter Joan Mocine, and cinematographer Stephan Katz. Actress Joy Bang provides a telephone interview (the audio has been cleaned up but is still poor given the source). Two short films by Huyck and Katz and the usual bunch of Code Red trailers round out the extras. A very satisfying release.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


Menus / Extras

 

Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC

 

Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Future director Walter Hill!

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Code Red - Region FREE -  NTSC TOP

2) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Frame Specific Damage Marks / Visible Cue Blips (Removed on Radiance)

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

1) Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT

2) Radiance - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Radiance Films Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Code Red Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 
Box Cover

 

  

 

 

Bonus Captures:

 

Re-issued in the UK by Radiance in March 2024:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

Code Red - Region FREE - Blu-ray Radiance- Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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Gary Tooze

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