God Told Me To


1h 31m 1976
God Told Me To

Brief Synopsis

A cop investigates a series of gruesome murders seemingly inspired by God.

Film Details

Also Known As
God Told Me to Kill
MPAA Rating
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

New York police detective Peter Nicholas is investigating a series of murders that have been committed by people who all appear to be normal, yet claim that God told them to kill. The investigation leads Nicholas to conclusion that a religious cult leader named Bernard Phillips has influenced these people enough to cause them to become murderers. .

Film Details

Also Known As
God Told Me to Kill
MPAA Rating
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

God Told Me To (1976) -


Perhaps the only true heir to the American maverick Sam Fuller, Larry Cohen has always made his own way. Having honed his craft in episodic television, writing for such popular weekly series as The Defenders, The Fugitive and Arrest and Trial, and creating the short-lived but well-regarded Branded and The Invaders, Cohen turned in time to features, writing screenplays for Return of the Seven (1966) and Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969). Seeing his ideas compromised in the transition from page to screen, Cohen turned to directing with the wily home invasion drama/social satire Bone (1972), starring Yaphet Kotto, using his own Beverly Hills home as a location. Cashiered into service for the evolving "blaxploitation" market, Cohen helmed the Warner Bros. homage Black Caesar (1973), starring Fred Williamson (but written for Sammy Davis, Jr.), and the film's sequel, Hell Up in Harlem (1973), which he shot back-to-back with It's Alive (1974), a throwback to atomic age science fiction thrillers, with giant insects supplanted by mutant killer babies spawned by Big Pharma. Accustomed to following his own lead, Cohen found inspiration for his next film while wandering through London's National Gallery, where the violence inherent in religious paintings prompted him to imagine an alien entity, raised by humans, who believes he is the second coming of Christ.

God Told Me To (1976) stars Tony Lo Bianco as Peter Nicholas, an NYPD detective investigating seemingly random homicides whose perpetrators all claim to have been acting at the behest of the Almighty. A tortured Catholic wracked by guilt for juggling a mistress (Deborah Raffin) and a wife (Sandy Dennis), Nicholas discovers that "God" is in fact an extraterrestrial being (Richard Lynch), beget by the nonconsensual union of alien and human. Complicating matters are the machinations of a Wall Street cabal whose members worship the alien as a prophet, as well as revelations about Nicholas' possible kinship with the being. A wry retooling of the Superman myth, God Told Me To was one of few American attempts to carry the torch passed by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - and one of the last, as the release of George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) a year later changed American appetites for science fiction, shucking deep-think and soul-searching for a pulp abridgement of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Even in 1976, Cohen's film struggled to find an audience. Released to no business under its original title, it was rechristened Demon by distributor New World Pictures in a doomed attempt to attract some customers from Richard Donner's hugely successful The Omen. Critic Roger Ebert did Cohen no favors when he damned the release as "one of the most confused feature-films I've ever seen."

Gold Told Me To eventually earned New World some revenue but was lost in the shuffle of Cohen's wildly diverse writing-directing career, which included such cult favorites as The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), starring Broderick Crawford in one of his final feature film roles, and Q (1982), in which David Carradine faces down a giant winged serpent nesting in the needle of the Chrysler Building when it isn't flying circles around Manhattan biting the heads off of window washers and sunbathers. (Cohen was also hired by 20th Century Fox to write and direct their modern day Micky Spillane adaptation I, the Jury [1982], starring Armand Assante as Mike Hammer, but was fired after one week for budget overages and replaced by Richard T. Heffron). The film's relative obscurity makes it ripe for reappraisal and a fresh look reveals a wholly unique storytelling vision, yet one that is fully in synch with Cohen's established passions and paranoia - centered as it is in a world being pulled apart by conspiracy and chaos. Shooting without permits in and around Manhattan, Cohen impressively stages two mass shootings - one in the midst of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (featuring comedian Andy Kaufman in his feature film debut as a deranged cop) and elsewhere marshals an impressive supporting cast that includes Hollywood vets Sam Levene, Sylvia Sidney, Mike Kellin, and Robert Drivas. Cohen's most intriguing bit of casting is of New York actor Dan Resin, best known at that time for playing the miniature yachtsman in TV spots for Ty-D Bowl toilet cleanser, as a member of the shadow cabal.

By Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

Horror Film Directors, 1931-1980 by Dennis Fischer (McFarland & Company, Inc., 1991)
Larry Cohen interview by Andrea June and V. Vale, RE/Search: Incredibly Strange Films, no. 10 (RE/Search Publications, 1987)
Robert Forster interview by Keith Phipps, The A/V Club, April 2000
God Told Me To (1976) -

God Told Me To (1976) -

Perhaps the only true heir to the American maverick Sam Fuller, Larry Cohen has always made his own way. Having honed his craft in episodic television, writing for such popular weekly series as The Defenders, The Fugitive and Arrest and Trial, and creating the short-lived but well-regarded Branded and The Invaders, Cohen turned in time to features, writing screenplays for Return of the Seven (1966) and Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969). Seeing his ideas compromised in the transition from page to screen, Cohen turned to directing with the wily home invasion drama/social satire Bone (1972), starring Yaphet Kotto, using his own Beverly Hills home as a location. Cashiered into service for the evolving "blaxploitation" market, Cohen helmed the Warner Bros. homage Black Caesar (1973), starring Fred Williamson (but written for Sammy Davis, Jr.), and the film's sequel, Hell Up in Harlem (1973), which he shot back-to-back with It's Alive (1974), a throwback to atomic age science fiction thrillers, with giant insects supplanted by mutant killer babies spawned by Big Pharma. Accustomed to following his own lead, Cohen found inspiration for his next film while wandering through London's National Gallery, where the violence inherent in religious paintings prompted him to imagine an alien entity, raised by humans, who believes he is the second coming of Christ. God Told Me To (1976) stars Tony Lo Bianco as Peter Nicholas, an NYPD detective investigating seemingly random homicides whose perpetrators all claim to have been acting at the behest of the Almighty. A tortured Catholic wracked by guilt for juggling a mistress (Deborah Raffin) and a wife (Sandy Dennis), Nicholas discovers that "God" is in fact an extraterrestrial being (Richard Lynch), beget by the nonconsensual union of alien and human. Complicating matters are the machinations of a Wall Street cabal whose members worship the alien as a prophet, as well as revelations about Nicholas' possible kinship with the being. A wry retooling of the Superman myth, God Told Me To was one of few American attempts to carry the torch passed by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - and one of the last, as the release of George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) a year later changed American appetites for science fiction, shucking deep-think and soul-searching for a pulp abridgement of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Even in 1976, Cohen's film struggled to find an audience. Released to no business under its original title, it was rechristened Demon by distributor New World Pictures in a doomed attempt to attract some customers from Richard Donner's hugely successful The Omen. Critic Roger Ebert did Cohen no favors when he damned the release as "one of the most confused feature-films I've ever seen." Gold Told Me To eventually earned New World some revenue but was lost in the shuffle of Cohen's wildly diverse writing-directing career, which included such cult favorites as The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), starring Broderick Crawford in one of his final feature film roles, and Q (1982), in which David Carradine faces down a giant winged serpent nesting in the needle of the Chrysler Building when it isn't flying circles around Manhattan biting the heads off of window washers and sunbathers. (Cohen was also hired by 20th Century Fox to write and direct their modern day Micky Spillane adaptation I, the Jury [1982], starring Armand Assante as Mike Hammer, but was fired after one week for budget overages and replaced by Richard T. Heffron). The film's relative obscurity makes it ripe for reappraisal and a fresh look reveals a wholly unique storytelling vision, yet one that is fully in synch with Cohen's established passions and paranoia - centered as it is in a world being pulled apart by conspiracy and chaos. Shooting without permits in and around Manhattan, Cohen impressively stages two mass shootings - one in the midst of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (featuring comedian Andy Kaufman in his feature film debut as a deranged cop) and elsewhere marshals an impressive supporting cast that includes Hollywood vets Sam Levene, Sylvia Sidney, Mike Kellin, and Robert Drivas. Cohen's most intriguing bit of casting is of New York actor Dan Resin, best known at that time for playing the miniature yachtsman in TV spots for Ty-D Bowl toilet cleanser, as a member of the shadow cabal. By Richard Harland Smith Sources: Horror Film Directors, 1931-1980 by Dennis Fischer (McFarland & Company, Inc., 1991) Larry Cohen interview by Andrea June and V. Vale, RE/Search: Incredibly Strange Films, no. 10 (RE/Search Publications, 1987) Robert Forster interview by Keith Phipps, The A/V Club, April 2000

God Told Me To


A detective investigates a series of religiously inspired mass murders. The powers behind these events turn out to be extraterrestrials involved in the abduction and impregnating of Earth women. A group of powerful men head a conspiracy that work with the aliens. Finally the detective discovers that he may have been personally connected to this alien invasion all along. It sounds like the plot of the TV show The X-Files, but it is actually God Told Me To (1976), a low-budget but outrageous horror thriller written and directed by Larry Cohen two decades before.

Cohen got his start as a television writer in the early 1960's but an early sign of the direction his career would take was his creation of The Invaders (1967-1968), the first serious science-fiction television series about an alien takeover. In the early 1970's Cohen began directing his own scripts, specializing in low-budget exploitation movies intended for drive-ins and inner-city cinemas. Despite his lack of money and audiences that required him to show a brutal murder or nudity every few minutes, Cohen infused his films with highbrow ideas and classic Hollywood techniques. Black Caesar (1973) took the style of an early 1930's Warner Brothers gangster movie and updated it for the blacksploitation era. It's Alive (1974) may have been about a killer mutant baby, but the creature was mostly kept off screen in imitation of the style of Val Lewton's classy horror films of the 1940's.

In God Told Me To, Cohen took this intelligent exploitation formula as far as it could go. A series of seemingly stable individuals suddenly snap and begin killing everyone around them. When asked why, their only reply is "God told me to." New York homicide detective Peter Nicholas, a religious Catholic, begins to suspect that whoever is behind these horrible acts might actually be God, or at least a creature with powers so great, He could make the assassins believe they were getting orders from the almighty.

The story was partially inspired by such popular books of the early 1970's as Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken that proposed religious belief might have its genesis in extraterrestrial contact. Using this idea as his starting point, Cohen presented one of the most shockingly blasphemous movies ever made, all while sticking to a low budget and delivering the horrific shocks his audience expected. His under-the-radar approach was probably what kept the film from being met by the mass protests that greeted The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988). Fears of such reaction may have been the reason the movie's distributors retitled the film Demon in many parts of the U.S.

As with many of Larry Cohen's movies, the cast was filled with excellent character actors seen in larger-budget Hollywood pictures. Tony Lo Bianco from The French Connection (1971) played the detective, his mother was played by 1930's star Sylvia Sidney, and his wife by Sandy Dennis of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Eccentric comedian Andy Kaufman, whose life story would be told in Man On The Moon (1999), had his first movie role as one of the killers. Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane, Psycho) was to have composed the music score, but he died the day after he was first shown the film. God Told Me To is dedicated to him.

A sizeable cult audience has grown around this movie despite the rarity of screenings over the last twenty-five years. Now that audience can have its fill thanks to an excellent DVD presentation. Blue Underground has released a very high quality print of the film in letterbox and 16 by 9 formats with soundtracks in mono, Dolby Surround 2.0 and 5.1 and 6.1 digital sound. Director Cohen provides a movie length commentary and the extras include theatrical and television trailers, stills and television advertisements. Cohen's God Told Me To is an excellent example of how an independent movie made with little money and no expensive computer effects can still tackle the biggest subject of all.

For more information about God Told Me To, visit Blue Underground. To order God Told Me To, go to TCM Shopping.

by Brian Cady

God Told Me To

A detective investigates a series of religiously inspired mass murders. The powers behind these events turn out to be extraterrestrials involved in the abduction and impregnating of Earth women. A group of powerful men head a conspiracy that work with the aliens. Finally the detective discovers that he may have been personally connected to this alien invasion all along. It sounds like the plot of the TV show The X-Files, but it is actually God Told Me To (1976), a low-budget but outrageous horror thriller written and directed by Larry Cohen two decades before. Cohen got his start as a television writer in the early 1960's but an early sign of the direction his career would take was his creation of The Invaders (1967-1968), the first serious science-fiction television series about an alien takeover. In the early 1970's Cohen began directing his own scripts, specializing in low-budget exploitation movies intended for drive-ins and inner-city cinemas. Despite his lack of money and audiences that required him to show a brutal murder or nudity every few minutes, Cohen infused his films with highbrow ideas and classic Hollywood techniques. Black Caesar (1973) took the style of an early 1930's Warner Brothers gangster movie and updated it for the blacksploitation era. It's Alive (1974) may have been about a killer mutant baby, but the creature was mostly kept off screen in imitation of the style of Val Lewton's classy horror films of the 1940's. In God Told Me To, Cohen took this intelligent exploitation formula as far as it could go. A series of seemingly stable individuals suddenly snap and begin killing everyone around them. When asked why, their only reply is "God told me to." New York homicide detective Peter Nicholas, a religious Catholic, begins to suspect that whoever is behind these horrible acts might actually be God, or at least a creature with powers so great, He could make the assassins believe they were getting orders from the almighty. The story was partially inspired by such popular books of the early 1970's as Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken that proposed religious belief might have its genesis in extraterrestrial contact. Using this idea as his starting point, Cohen presented one of the most shockingly blasphemous movies ever made, all while sticking to a low budget and delivering the horrific shocks his audience expected. His under-the-radar approach was probably what kept the film from being met by the mass protests that greeted The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988). Fears of such reaction may have been the reason the movie's distributors retitled the film Demon in many parts of the U.S. As with many of Larry Cohen's movies, the cast was filled with excellent character actors seen in larger-budget Hollywood pictures. Tony Lo Bianco from The French Connection (1971) played the detective, his mother was played by 1930's star Sylvia Sidney, and his wife by Sandy Dennis of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Eccentric comedian Andy Kaufman, whose life story would be told in Man On The Moon (1999), had his first movie role as one of the killers. Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane, Psycho) was to have composed the music score, but he died the day after he was first shown the film. God Told Me To is dedicated to him. A sizeable cult audience has grown around this movie despite the rarity of screenings over the last twenty-five years. Now that audience can have its fill thanks to an excellent DVD presentation. Blue Underground has released a very high quality print of the film in letterbox and 16 by 9 formats with soundtracks in mono, Dolby Surround 2.0 and 5.1 and 6.1 digital sound. Director Cohen provides a movie length commentary and the extras include theatrical and television trailers, stills and television advertisements. Cohen's God Told Me To is an excellent example of how an independent movie made with little money and no expensive computer effects can still tackle the biggest subject of all. For more information about God Told Me To, visit Blue Underground. To order God Told Me To, go to TCM Shopping. by Brian Cady

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1976

Released in United States 1998

Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival September 26 - October 12, 1998.

Released in United States Winter December 1976

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival September 26 - October 12, 1998.)

Released in USA on video.