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The Believers (1987)

A New York psychiatrist finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son.


John Schlesinger


Mark Frost (screenplay), Nicholas Conde (novel)

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1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Cal Jamison
Helen Shaver ... Jessica Halliday
Harley Cross ... Chris Jamison
Robert Loggia ... Lt. Sean McTaggert
Elizabeth Wilson ... Kate Maslow
Harris Yulin ... Robert Calder
Lee Richardson ... Dennis Maslow
Richard Masur ... Marty Wertheimer
Carla Pinza Carla Pinza ... Carmen Ruiz
Jimmy Smits ... Tom Lopez
Raúl Dávila Raúl Dávila ... Oscar Sezine
Malick Bowens ... Palo
Janet-Laine Green ... Lisa Jamison
Larry Ramos Larry Ramos ... Diner Counterman
Philip Corey Philip Corey ... Calder's Assistant


After the death of his wife, police psychiatrist Cal Jamison moves to New York. There he has to help in the investigation of the murder of two youths, who seem to have been immolated during a cult ritual. Jamison believes it's been Voodoo and, ignoring the warnings of his housekeeper, enters the scenery and soon gets under their influence. They try to get him to sacrifice his own son. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing Can Stop Them. No One Can Help You. They Know Who You Are. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Ritual See more »


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,342,732, 14 June 1987, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One studio executive suggested having the Beastie Boys perform on the soundtrack. See more »


When Jessica and Cal are participating in the Santeria ceremony, Jessica is sprayed with chicken blood. The blood initially hits the edge of her shirt near her neck. In a following shot, that part of her shirt is completely clean. See more »


Customs agent: [Arriving at the airport] Open this please?
[first lines]
Palo: Just personel items... no need to look in there
[Palo stares deep into the man's eyes]
Customs agent: [Now in a trance like state] All-Right.
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Flute Concerto In G
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Aurèle Nicolet (as Aurele Nicolet) and Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, Amsterdam
Courtesy of Philips Records, a division of Polygram Classics
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User Reviews

voodoo doo-doo
26 September 2001 | by secretronSee all my reviews

In all fairness, I went into seeing The Believers with a glimmer of hope. A fervent horror fan, I looked forward to seeing a rare intellectual thriller. All the pieces were in place - a good cast (led by a usually stellar Martin Sheen), a renowned director (John Schlesinger) & the story of a police psychologist trying to pick up the pieces after his wife's premature & accidental death who gets involved, along with his son, in some occultish freakishness.

So where did The Believers go wrong? About halfway through, when Sheen's lonely Dad inexplicably & unbelievably takes up with the loopy landlady across the street (Helen Shaver). Not only is this an unwanted distraction to the plot, but the relationship moves WAY too quickly to be taken seriously in a 2-hour horror movie.

There are some scary moments, one coming within the first 5 minutes of the film, but the film loses its momentum as the discovery of what all this voodoo madness is all about unfolds. Like The Serpent & The Rainbow, logic & reason effortlessly give way to dark idols & poisoned dart silliness. The film's ominous conclusion tries too hard & becomes almost laughable.

Sheen is solid, but spends more than half the movie screaming at, to or for his son (another never-to-be-seen-again child actor who is 10 times more annoying than cute, making you wish that the bad guys eat him up before Martin starts filming Wall Street). Shaver sleepwalks through her thankless role, tho she's involved in one of the film's creepiest moments. A good supporting cast, including Robert Loggia, Richard Masur & a young Jimmy Smits are wasted.

Ultimately, The Believers is ambitious, but this voodoo doo-doo doesn't give you much to believe. 5 out of 10.

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