Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MESSIAH OF EVIL - "Hold On To Love" (1972) - Reviewed by Zillagord

It's Labor Day, and even Eegah!! needs some time off, so, after months of dilligent negotiations, we have managed to finally drag Zillagord from his lair, and he has agreed to share his thoughts, as guest host tonight! If it all works out according to plan, Big Z will be sitting in from time to time on a semi-regular basis from now on!! So, without any further delay, here he is, the guy who has a more profound and entertaining insight into life, music, and film than most large creatures from small islands, put your hands together for Zillagord and his first review for The Dungeon, it's a good one, "Messiah Of Evil!"

Nope, not a documentary about Dick Cheney. Also known as “Dead People,” “Revenge of the Screaming Dead,” and “Second Coming,” this is actually a pretty creepy and surrealistic little flick populated with Grade C TV actors, a cool electronic score by Phillan Bishop, a wince-inducing theme song, and an overenthusiastic kitchen-sink approach to storytelling that tosses in some narrative twists that go nowheresville, Jack.

Like the following seemingly unrelated prologue to the flick:

Here we see prepubescent Mama Cass before she developed a sannich habit. She’s screaming a little scream… of MURDER! She offs this dude…

…by slicing his throat. How this is related to the rest of the film, I dunno. The funny thing is, Lil Mama misses out on the feast that lies ahead. But let’s slow down a sec…

After enduring the hideous "Hold On To Love" (holding onto our lunches while listening), we cut to the above shot with a voice-over by Arletti, played by the comely Marianna Hill, also seen in genre flicks “Invisible Strangler,” “Blood Beach,” and “Schizoid.” Marianna also did loads of TV work, including the role of Dr Helen Noel in the Star Trek episode “Dagger of the Mind.” Put your Photon Torpedoes back in yer pants Trekkies, no nipples in this flick. Arletti warns us that we are about to journey to a place where “No one will hear you scream.” Probably because everyone’s fingers are still inserted in their ears from that abominable theme song!!

Moving along…

Arletti has received some mysterious letters from her father, all written in a ponderous Lovecraftian style that vaguely alludes to impending madness and unknown EEEEE-vil. Arletti drives to the California artist’s colony of Pt. Dune to find her dad. She finds the eerie albino dude above (Bennie Robinson, in his sole screen appearance) instead. This guy drives ‘round town with stiffs in his truck...

… while listening to Wagner (which he pronounces WAG – ner). Besides that, we never find out much about this guy, but I thought I saw him at a Johnny Winter show last summer.

Areltti investigates the Warholian surroundings of her dad’s home, but finds it empty save for surreal paintings and taxidermy animals. This house is really the “star” of the film, adding an unusual element of sinister psychedelia to the proceedings.

Arletti then explores the town. She meets a blind art collector (oh, the scathing indictment and bald-faced irony! I just love subtlety)….

She also encounters poor old veteran actor Elisha Cook, Jr., one-taking his way through his role of the town drunk. Or is his brain merely damaged due to the close proximity of the television??? Either way, the dude is messed up: he claims his parents almost fed him to chickens!!

Arletti also meets Thom, played by Michael Greer, who starred in “Summer School Teachers,” “The Curious Female,” and who also is apparently the missing member of Badfinger.

Thom is a self-proclaimed “collector of old legends.” He also seems to have a predilection for giant collars and women of questionable virtue…

Like Laura, played by Anitra Ford. Anitra can also be seen in “Invasion of the Bee Girls” AKA “Graveyard Tramps” but is best known for her modeling on TV’s “The Price Is Right.”

Then there’s fun-lovin’, booze-swillin’, thrill-seekin’ Toni, played by equine John Elway look-alike Joy Bang. With that name, I thought she might have an impressive porn résumé (there’s an oxymoron for ye); perhaps her name was why they alternatively titled this flick “Second Coming”? Alas, she did little outside of the wonderful “Night of the Cobra Woman” and perhaps some stand-in work on “Mr. Ed.”

When Thom gets frisky with Arletti, (he suavely tells her, “You don’t just unzip a man and say goodnight.” Ugh.), headstrong Laura goes all splitsville and heads to Ralph’s to do some research for the Showcase Showdown.

Instead, she finds the pasty natives of Pt. Dune a-feasting on raw beast…

Zombies, C’MON DOWN!!!

Next, cute filly Joy attends a flick entitled “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Goshers, more subtlety!!

She straps on the old feedbag and settles in…

This is actually the best scene in the movie. The zombies slowly surround her to the sounds of some swirling psych music…

Extreme whinnying ensues as Joy senses her impending dispatch to the glue factory. Don’t worry, I’m not like the screenwriters, I won’t be so obvious as to say she goes out with a bang…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Daddy’s home!

Yeah, if Blue Man Group had ripped me off, I’d be pissed too! Seriously, I really liked this scene, Royal Dano in Royal Blue was quite menacing.

Then, the zombies converge…

Somehow, Thom and Arletti escape to the beach. Their master plan-- SWIM FOR IT?? Unfortunately, Badfinger discovers his huge collars do not act as floatation devices. Areltti ends up surviving (I don’t have the time to explain the “intricacies” of this plot twist) and we are all forced to hear that hideous song again….

One more time! “Hold OOOOON to LOOOOVE”

NOOOOOO!!!!

“Messiah of Evil” ultimately has some great visual ideas and a genuine undercurrent of dread but is undone by some cock-eyed scriptwriting and poor editing (which I theorize may be due to the scattered script). I even left out some crucial details, like the tears of blood, the Blood Moon, and the Donner Party-- that’s how much they tried to cram in!! “They” being screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who amazingly also co-wrote “American Graffiti.” Huyck also wrote “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Perhaps more indicative of his talents, though, is that he also directed “Howard the Duck.” “Messiah” is not THAT much of a turkey, although it’s one stuffed bird of a flick!

8 comments:

prof. grewbeard said...

good job!

Otto Mannix said...

A friend recently gave me a VHS copy of this movie. It was surprising, really great. Anita Ford and Joy Bang are both so hot, in opposite ways.

Greg Goodsell said...

I LOVES this pretentious horror cheapie!

Wow Gold said...

what a blog ! .

The Dark Stranger said...

Hipster jackasses who pretend to be above what they are "reviewing"... gotta loathe 'em!

News flash, pal: Pin-headed "Mystery Science Theater" wanna-bes have little business mocking others' lack of subtlety. When I hit your town, you are first on the menu, slick.

Morgan McDannell said...

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a low budget noir with Barbara Peyton and James Cagney.

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance that you could re-upload Hold On To Love from the soundtrack? It is terribly hard to find so you would make my day.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Sure, why not?

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