"Accept me. No questions."
Found Highways | Las Vegas | 08/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1976 writer-director Larry Cohen made a philosophical exploitation movie that tried to capitalize on the popularity of the Catholic-believer-meets-the-Devil story of The Exorcist and anticipated the average-guy-learns-he-has-a-connection-to-UFOs story of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
This was the film God Told Me To, which underneath it all was not about God.
I think Cohen expressed his Vietnam-era paranoia best in the TV shows he created in the 1960s--especially Coronet Blue and The Invaders - The First Season, but his movies from the 1970s are interesting too.
Cohen made the It's Alive series about monster babies being born (meat movies with a social context) and he also wrote and directed the blaxploitation pictures Hell Up in Harlem and Black Caesar for action star Fred Williamson.
The story. Suddenly in New York people start committing mass murder. One young man kills pedestrians from a water tower with a rifle. He tells detective Peter Nicholas (played by Tony Lo Bianco) that he killed all those people because "God told me to."
A middle-class husband and father shoots his wife and children, casually telling Nicholas about how his young daughter ran and hid in the bathroom, and how he coaxed her out telling her it was a joke and that he would show her how to "do the trick." Finally she came out, he let her play with the gun and then shot her.
This man too did it because God told him to. All the killers Nicholas sees after their murders have a beatific smile. This father says he obeyed God's voice telling him to murder his family because of all the "good things He's done for us. He wouldn't have asked me to do anything that wasn't right."
Nicholas is a devout Catholic and this blasphemy makes him lose it and try to kill Mr. Middle Class.
All these divinely inspired murderers have one thing in common--they were seen talking to a certain young man with long hair and bare feet. Nicholas tracks him down through a group of businessmen the young man gathered around himself--his apostles in this New Age. "We were chosen," one tells Nicholas.
Nicholas is infected with the same sleazy lapsed Catholicism that Abel Ferrara shows in some of his films, like Bad Lieutenant. But empathetic Tony Lo Bianco is no Harvey Keitel. Peter Nicholas is more like a Good Lieutenant, except for the affair he's having, all the time telling his girlfriend that it's his wife who won't give him a divorce.
His wife (played by Sandy Dennis in the best performance in the film) tells him: "I feel sorry for you. You really believe. But where's all the joy it's supposed to put in your heart?"
Nicholas starts to uncover a truth about his own life and eventually tracks down the whispering Messiah, after making a violent detour to see a Harlem drug lord that shows why Larry Cohen was successful as a blaxploitation director--his Harlem criminals and victims may or may not have been true to life, but they looked real on film.
In the end, even though God didn't tell him to do anything, Nicholas is able to keep his faith.
In a scene that would have been better on Cohen's TV series The Invaders we learn more of the truth about both the Messiah and Nicholas, but as the young man with long hair and bare feet tells his pursuer:
"I don't know any more than you do why they put me here."
Poorly made and edited.
K. Pehl | Pasadena, Ca. | 05/10/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"God Told me To is a low budget film that is very dated. We're talking African American men in velvet blazers, large hats and platforms. That kind of dated.
The copy I own has very poor sound. If you were using headphones the sound would only come out of one side.
The editing had to be done by 2 different people. The first half is choppy, the 2nd half is edited a bit better.
Nevertheless, the film isn't as bizarre as I remembered it. It does have some strange scenes but this film isn't well made. The acting isn't great, the dialogue isn't very good and it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
There might be some better copies out there and I wouldn't mind seeing one of those but I'd never pop mine in again and watch it.