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"In the late 70's I got caught up in the Moonie cult for a time in Northern California. This is a very accurate portrayal of the moonies of that time and place, right down to the rickety converted chicken coop they had their talks in, the cult member who follows you everwhere, the "choo choo yay pow" cheer. (Yes they really did use that!) The enforced conformity, The famous dodge ball game with chanting. Deadly accurate. Though the material is dated, and the ranch in the countryside where The moonies brought recruits is long since shut down, it's still a great film to watch...and to show your kids if you want to help them learn to avoid being sucked into cults of many kinds. "
A gutsy expose on how religious cults work
Mellow Monk | Livermore, CA USA | 12/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You have to hand it to the Canadians for having the guts to make such a true-to-life movie about cults: how they recruit, how they brainwash, how they make money. A little more contrast between the blind euphoria of the lower-tier cultists and the opulent, materialistic ways of the upper echelon would have been nice. And the movie was obviously made on a shoestring budget, which no doubt is hard to accept for someone raised on Hollywood production values. But Hollywood would NEVER make a film like this -- not with all the cultists running around in Tinsel Town! They'd boycott the production. Solid performances are turned in by Nick Mancuso as the "lost soul," Saul Rubinek as the friend who won't give up on him, Kim Cattrall as a bundle-of-energy cultist (actually one of the scariest characters in the film), and R. H. Thomson as the deprogrammer. If you can get past the made-for-TV-movie feel, this film is an excellent way to teach your kids about how cults operate and what they're really all about: money. --MellowMonk.com"
Deserving a remastered DVD release
Sheri Richardson | Formerly San Jose, CA US, now in the Wilds of OR U | 05/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"TICKET TO HEAVEN is a most effective film, one that flew through theaters far too quickly on its initial run (thanks for the tip, Siskel & Ebert), shedding light on any number of obsessions. The focus is on a religious cult, but could as easily center around any pursuit where, with all the attractive chaff winnowed away, the end aim is making money for the top dogs or ideals. Where membership comes with a strident urging to include friends and relations.
As Linc Strunc (R.H. Thomson's extraordinary performance in a Genie-winning role) says, "It's the smart ones" who prove the most difficult to deprogram.
Nick Mancuso's David is intelligent, but he lacks what many are missing: Close human contact, permission to touch someone without fear or evoking sexual connotations. For many, that's like the difference between hugging your parents as a child, and the wall that goes up when you must "be a man" or "put away childish things".
The tools used to unhinge David's rationale are Legion: Beauty, peace, and belonging held up as within-reach (but cunningly and perpetually unattainable) goals. Simple messages that snowball. Inquisitiveness and discussion trampled as selfish distractions, with some subtle belittling. Repetition to instill new habits, relentlessly grinding in new beliefs. And then there's the food, and toying with body chemistry -- good science abused by clever minds.
A fine, memorable ensemble cast, from Guy Boyd's Eric, to Robert Joy's Patrick, to Timothy Webber's Greg, right down to Michael Wincott (THE CROW) in a minor role. Many of Canada's very best performers.
Saul Rubinek, who played nearly the same character in AGAINST ALL ODDS, goes to the other end of the scale here, however. A stalwart friend, Larry, never giving up however hard things get. A solid performance, one that embedded Rubinek's name in this reviewer's mind.
Paul Soles and Marcia Diamond are splendid as David's parents. Harvey Atkin adds some nice texture as Larry's boss. Who could say "no" to Kim Cattrall when she's this welcoming, and who wouldn't blanch before Meg Foster at her eeriest. Stephen Markle, as Karl, is a voice of reason who nonetheless does this to his friend, David.
And Nick Mancuso (HEARTBREAKERS, but who first impressed this reviewer in NIGHTWING) shines as David. Mancuso's a journeyman actor, always working, but rarely has a role so showcased his talents as TICKET TO HEAVEN. A performance you won't soon forget.
Most definitely deserving a new DVD release."
Great film, deserves to be better known....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 04/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is very difficult to find on VHS and/or DVD. I saw it in a DVD store for 10 bucks a few years ago, so I picked it up. The film is a terrifying, intense, very realistic one, depicting with great accuracy the truth about cults. Nick Manusco gives an excellent performance as David, the young man who gets caught up in the cult. He has just broken up with his girlfriend, and decides to visit a friend of his in southern California. David doesn't know that his friend is in a cult. They program David through various methods, including lack of sleep, moving around and around without reason, lack of protein in the food they eat, isolation, and fellow cult members following him around at all times. Saul Rubinek plays his friend who finds out where he is, and helps get him out with a deprogrammer. The film isn't perfect. There are noticable continuity flubs, awkward edits, misplaced comic relief (even though the sign "it's always amateur night" in the comedy club is hilarious), but these are minor compared with the intensity and accuracy of the film. This film was made in Canada (when Canadian film production was at a nadir), and it's a lot more realistic than a Hollywood film would be about the same subject. There are excellent performances all around (check out a very young Kim Catrall as Debbie, a cult member who is scary in her loyalty to "Father"). Hopefully, somebody will reissue this film...."
Bring in the Money, Stay Awake, Smash Out Satan!!
Lost Treasures | plymouth meeting, pa United States | 03/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Best film on religious cults yet!. Actually, this was the first of 3 films I have viewed on mind controlling religious cults. All three of the films were made in the early 80's a time when religious cults were at a high rise. Seen selling flowers in large city streets and airports.
Ticket to Heaven not only explains how someone of high intelligence can become involved in a cult. It makes it believable, unlike " BLINDED BY THE LIGHT"starring Kristy McNichol and real life brother Jimmy McNichol and "SPLIT IMAGE" starring Michael O'Keefer and Peter Fonda. Which if you haven't seen "Ticket to Heaven " before viewing these other films, would leave you with the feeling that only the weak minded, or troubled souls could be brainwashed into this way of life.
The deprogramming method of the cult victim David played by Nick Mancuso is brilliantly and intensely done by R. H. Thomson ( role Link Strunk) . Also to be credited for adding some comedy to the film is Saul Rubinek who plays David's best friend Larry.
(Excuse the pun) A true Cult Classic!! You will not be disappointed ! "