1970s

Know the Cast: ‘Messiah of Evil’

Messiah of Evil

The Messiah of Evil cast includes Marianna Hill, Anitra Ford and Michael Greer. This article contains spoilers for the 90-minute 1973 film. Subscribe to Vague Visages for access to reviews and essays. 

Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, Messiah of Evil is a must-watch indie horror on Shudder. The film initially plays out like a typical psychological thriller from the early 70s — lots of visual style and intellectual philosophizing — yet it becomes much more through a series of exceptional second-half sequences. The iconic Elisha Cook Jr. briefly shows up as a paranoid Malibu local who warns young hippies about an impending “Blood Moon,” while the beautiful Marianna Hill stars as a woman who investigates her father’s disappearance and learns about a zombie cult that hopes to spread a new religion. Here’s a rundown of the main players in Messiah of Evil, which includes an opening scene appearance from Walter Hill, who would later become a legendary filmmaker.

More by Q.V. Hough: Know the Cast: ‘Sleepaway Camp’

Messiah of Evil Cast: Marianna Hill as Arletty

Marianna Hill as Arletty in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A woman who looks for her estranged father Joseph in Malibu, California and befriends a group of hippies who learn about dark forces in the community. Arletty is ultimately captured and released by village vampires, who task her with spreading the word about a new religion.

Hill’s Resume: Helen Noel in Star Trek: The Original Series, Callie Travers in High Plains Drifter, Deanna Corleone in The Godfather: Part II

Messiah of Evil Cast: Michael Greer as Thom

Michael Greer as Tom in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A intellectual who travels with two female hippies. He learns about a prophecized Blood Moon from an elderly local, and repeatedly flirts with Arletty as she attempts to understand his true motivations. Thom eventually drowns while trying to escape Point Dume in the Pacific Ocean.

Greer’s Resume: Malcolm in The Gay Deceivers, Danny in The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, Emcee in The Rose

Messiah of Evil Cast: Anitra Ford as Laura

Anitra Ford as Laura in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A member of Thom’s entourage. She plans a trip to San Francisco but gets eaten by zombies at a Ralph’s supermarket in the Los Angeles area.

Ford’s Resume: Terry in The Big Bird Cage, Melissa in The Longest Yard, Molly in Starsky and Hutch

Messiah of Evil Cast: Joy Bang as Toni

Joy Bang as Toni in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A Jane Fonda lookalike and member of Thom’s entourage. She’s consumed by zombies in a movie theatre, shortly after Laura’s death-via-supermarket-zombies.

Bang’s Resume: Julie in Play It Again, Sam, Joanna in Night of the Cobra Woman

Messiah of Evil Cast: Royal Dano as Joseph Lang

Royal Dano as Joseph Lang in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: Arletty’s artist father who is presumed dead but shows up in the climax. Seemingly a zombie-in-the-making, he attacks his daughter and then dies in a red-and-blue paint sequence that’s reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 classic Pierrot le Fou.

Dano’s Resume: Corey in Johnny Guitar, Elijah in Moby Dick, Ten Spot in The Outlaw Josey Wales, Minister in The Right Stuff, Farmer Gene Green in Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Messiah of Evil Cast: Elisha Cook Jr. as Charlie

Elisha Cook Jr. as Charlie in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A paranoid town local who informs Arletty and her new friends about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Dark Stranger’s first appearance. He correctly predicts a Blood Moon but doesn’t survive beyond the first act.

Cook Jr.’s Resume: Wilmer Cook in The Maltese Falcon, Harry Jones in The Big Sleep, George Peatty in The Killing, Mr. Nicklas in Rosemary’s Baby

Messiah of Evil Cast: Charles Dierkop as Gas Attendant

Charles Dierkop as Gas Attendant in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: An opening-act character who assists Arletty. He discovers two corpses in the trunk of an Albino patron’s vehicle before getting murdered.

Dierkop’s Resume: Flat Nose Curry in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Pete Royster in Police Woman, Floyd in The Sting, Killer Santa in Silent Night, Deadly Night

Messiah of Evil Cast: Walter Hill as Stabbing Victim in Prologue

Walter Hill as Stabbing Victim in Prologue in Messiah of Evil

Character Profile: A young man who gets attacked and killed in the opening minutes.

Hill’s Resume: Director of The Driver, The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Streets of Fire, Brewster’s Millions

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The Messiah of Evil cast includes cameos from the writer-directors. Willard Huyck portrays Zombie in Car, and Gloria Katz appears as Ticket Booth Zombie. Oscar-nominated film editor Billy Weber (Top Gun, The Thin Red Line) also portrays Supermarket Zombie.

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