6.3/10
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71 user 95 critic

God Told Me To (1976)

A New York detective investigates a series of murders committed by random New Yorkers who claim that "God told them to."

Director:

Larry Cohen

Writer:

Larry Cohen (original screenplay)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Lo Bianco ... Peter J. Nicholas
Deborah Raffin ... Casey Forster
Sandy Dennis ... Martha Nicholas
Sylvia Sidney ... Elizabeth Mullin
Sam Levene ... Everett Lukas
Robert Drivas ... David Morten
Mike Kellin ... Deputy Commissioner
Richard Lynch ... Bernard Phillips
Sammy Williams ... Harold Gorman
Jo Flores Chase Jo Flores Chase ... Mrs. Gorman
William Roerick William Roerick ... Richards
Lester Rawlins Lester Rawlins ... Board Chairman
Harry Bellaver ... Cookie
George Patterson George Patterson ... Zero
Walter Steele Walter Steele ... Junkie
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Storyline

The storyline of this movie involves a series of motiveless murders committed by various New York residents: a sniper shoots people from a water tower; a father murders his entire family; and a cop opens fire during a St. Patrick's Day parade. The only consistent pattern to the crimes involves the perpetrators calm admissions of guilt, explaining, "God told me to." While investigating the murders, catholic police detective Peter Nicholas is increasingly troubled by evidence of a Christ-like figure named Bernard Phillips who appeared to each of the killers and can't seem to shake the feeling that his own fate is somewhat linked to this mysterious being. As he comes closer to the truth, his worst fears are confirmed. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Was he a god - the Devil or something even more terrifying... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Released in UK as "Demon", on a double bill with "The Lady in Red". See more »

Goofs

In a postmortem a doctor states that a specific woman who is supposed to be a mother cant be a 'Mrs' because she is a virgin, or at least he is guessing she is. However the title 'Mrs' refers to marital status, not parental status or virginity, and women can obviously have children without sex via fertility clinics etc. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Peter J. Nicholas: God told me to.
[PETER J. NICOLAS Committed to Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Beacon, New York]
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Crazy Credits

This motion picture is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bernard Herrmann. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fiona on Fire (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Momma Sweetlove
Lyrics by Janelle Webb
Music by Robert O. Ragland
Performed by George Gentre Griffin
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User Reviews

 
In the name of
22 April 2008 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

Trust something this darkly warped to come from the creative juices brewing from the mind of Larry Cohen. The 70s through to the mid 80s was the pinnacle for Cohen, and "God Told Me to" would have to be ranking at the top of his greatest achievements. With a limited budget, Cohen resourcefully constructs a fascinatingly chilling, bewildering and off-kilter little winner. Talk about the strangest film Cohen has ever done, and probably his most ambitiously versatile in the story's ever-changing format of genres! Subtexts aplenty. And they manage some depth too.

The cryptic story is cleverly utilized, as the mystery holds together and the fearful psychological undercurrents of repressed faith make it rather interesting. Though it's so hard to follow due to that fractured story-telling. It shifts from grounded reality to utter weirdness, which has you totally feeling the confusion and frustration that the main protagonist would be going through trying to come to terms with what's going on. So does it make sense? I'm not quite sure, but hell it's entertaining and bizarre. Too much for me to worry about thinking of the bigger picture. But hey it makes great for repeat viewings! Some sequences can unsettle, while others thoughtfully delve into the characters at hand. A compact, but involving script is complicatedly put together and drives hard with an audaciously literal sense. Some of the dialogues actually raise most of the tension than some visual set-pieces involving violence and shocks. Cohen's capably understated direction is well presented and shines with his own distinctive personality, as he ably uses the authentic New York Locations with the use of intimately taut cinematography. He manages to install a haunting air throughout the whole feature, and Frank Cordell's dreamily sombre music score largely complements the atmospheric awe.

A quality cast lend solid performances. Tony Lo Bianco is undeniably excellent in the lead role of a religious NYPD detective. Sandy Dennis and Sylvia Sidney offer strong support. Sam Levene, Al Fann and James Dixon (a Cohen favourite) are also good. Richard Lynch appears in a small, but unusually striking part and Andy Kauffman in an out-of-the-ordinary performance.

Cohen's "God Told Me To" is a loopy, but challenging b-grade exploitation of the highest order. An unforgettable cult gem!


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 October 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Demon See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Larco Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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