The 1970s was a turning point in Horror cinema. While more gothic styled films dominated the genre in the decade prior, a different approach arrived in 1968 when George A. Romero independently put out Night of the Living Dead. A revolutionary film that ushered in a new era, what was to follow included films such as 1971’s Willard, 1973’s The Exorcist, and a lesser-known film from ’73, Messiah of Evil.
Initially premiering in Paris, Texas in late 1974, but not premiering in Los Angeles until mid-1975, Messiah of Evil is one of those films that flew under the radar unfortunately. Interestingly enough the film was directed by husband-and-wife team William Huyck and Gloria Katz; who had no previous experience within the Horror genre, and previously co-wrote the screenplay for the 1973 Comedy American Graffiti, before going to co-write the screenplay for 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and direct 1986’s Howard the Duck.
Important to note, because Messiah of Evil certainly has a different feel than other Horror movies of the time… one that is more European in its approach, much like a Dario Argento feature. Furthermore, their stylistic direction for Messiah of Evil also feels vaguely similar to Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead… but precedes it by nearly four years.
All these matters considered, Messiah of Evil is a rather unsettling film which utilizes dream-like cinematography and eerie, desolate developed landscapes that are sure to entice any fan of not only Horror, but film in general. That said, the film still remained in obscurity for much of the last fifty years; save the release of it on DVD in 2009, and 2013 40th anniversary Blu-ray release. Now in 2023 it receives a limited-edition Blu-ray release that has plenty to offer.
Set for release on October 24, 2023 through Radiance, this special set is limited to only 3,000 copies and is in a rigid box and full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip. A serious, solid presentation, the real bread and butter of this release is the 4K restoration of the best-surviving elements of the film from the Academy of Film Archive. Well worth it, this is by far the best transfer to home video of Messiah of Evil to date. For those who have not seen the film, it will allow them a chance to truly appreciate all it has to offer. For those who have seen it, the 4K transfer gives you more than you have ever experienced from viewing the film before.
Beyond this, there is also a limited edition 80-page booklet featuring new and archival writing about Messiah of Evil, plus a very interesting new documentary. In all, while this edition of Messiah of Evil is extremely limited, it would behoove any fan of cinema to find a way to acquire a copy. Sometimes non-linear, but always engaging you to watch further, Messiah of Evil is guaranteed to become one of your favorite ‘70s Horror flicks of all-time. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this limited edition presentation of Messiah of Evil 5 out of 5 stars.