God Told Me To

09/28/2019 12:57

Film: God Told Me To

Year: 1976

Director: Larry Cohen

Writer: Larry Cohen

Starring: Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin and Sandy Dennis



This was a film that I got turned on to through podcasts I listen to. I finally decided to check this out for a horror movie challenge that I’m doing as I needed to watch something from Larry Cohen. The concept of this movie really intrigued me, so I was excited. The synopsis a New York detective investigates a series of murders committed by random New Yorkers who claim that ‘God told them to’.

We start this off showing us New York City. We are seeing people going about their day and a guy on a bike gets shot. This happens 13 more times. The person doing this is Harold Gorman (Sammy Williams). He is on top of a water tanker above a building. The police are called and Peter J. Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco), a detective, decides to try to talk him down. Before he can though, Harold tells him that God told him to and then jumps.

Peter is seeing Casey Forster (Debroah Raffin) and what happened is haunting him. Through their conversation, she is a substitute teacher and Peter is still married. He tells Casey, that he’s going to visit his wife. He is hoping that she will be reasonable in dissolving the marriage. It really isn’t the case though as he’s keeping things from Casey. His wife is Martha (Sandy Dennis). Peter is also highly religious.

There are other similar murders that happen. One of them is a man stabbing people in a store and other is a man killing his family. Peter continues to look into all of these and learns through interviews that there is a connection. A weird man with shoulder length blonde hair named Bernard Phillips. The more learns about this, the more he learns about himself and it takes him on a dark journey to get the truth of what is causing these people to do what they are.

This is another movie that I wanted to go vague with the recap to avoid spoiling what happens here. The story isn’t overly complex so that is part of it, but I also think that it should be an experience. It really is an interesting story here though for sure. We have Peter who is an orphan and deeply religious. He is really bothered by these murders that are happening and wants to go to the bottom of it. As I said at the end of my recap, what is really going on here and how his past is involved was quite interesting to me. I also think it kind of ruins as well, but I can actually get on board with it really is.

There is also this odd subplot here as well. I’ve seen a documentary about Cohen and I knew that he did some blaxploitation films, so we get a bit of that here with a drug dealer/pimp named Zero (George Patterson). He has some dealings with a police officer and this gets resolved in the end as well.

The last little thing that happens as well that I wanted to bring up was that I like that Peter goes to a newspaper writer who he leaks information to. This writer is against religion and posts a lot about science. He has this interesting idea of who God is and Peter is suspended at this time. This contact he uses to get information out and I thought it was interesting. All of the people who are committing the murders are from different walks of life, that makes for an intriguing concept since there’s really no thread at first connecting them.

That moves me to the editing and pacing. I think the latter is solid here for the most part. I do think that it kind of loses it way late in the second act/start of the third. I do think that it finds its way to the ending, which I’ll admit, I’m glad they wrapped up the subplot. It does make for an interesting way to go as well. I will say that I didn’t really find myself bored, even when the film loses its way.

As for the acting, it is pretty solid. Bianco isn’t great, but I find him believable. Him trying to solve this mystery is good and I actually feel bad for him as he continues to learn more of the truth. His determination really fits the character. Raffin is quite attractive but I don’t necessarily know if she is really needed in this film. Her performance was fine though. I liked to see Richard Lynch here. He has such an odd role and it works for me. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what is needed, but no one is great if I’m honest.

To move to the effects, there aren’t really a lot to be honest. We do get a bit of blood and I think that looks good. Cohen was strategic in hiding what he could if he knew that he couldn’t make it look real. There is an interesting look with Bernard in the movie, having an odd light that is on him and where he is living. I think it is shot very well and I just love Cohen’s guerilla filming style as well. It just brings an extra character.

Now with that said, this is an interesting film about subject matter I have a lot of interest in. I like the mystery here, but not necessarily the biggest fan of the explanation. It does work though. The pacing is solid aside from one section where I did kind of lose interest, but it does find itself to an intriguing ending. The acting I think is solid across the board. The effects we get are fine and the soundtrack didn’t stand out. It fit for what is needed though. I know I’ve said it a few times, but this film isn’t great. It is definitely enjoyable and worth a viewing. I do find it to be above average overall.


My Rating: 7 out of 10