God Told Me To (1976)

Genres - Crime, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Detective Film, Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Oct 22, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This may be the audacious film in Larry Cohen's filmography and, given that said filmography contains films like It's Alive and The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover, that is saying quite a lot. Despite the outlandish murder-mystery premise and the high body count, God Told Me To is a surprisingly thoughtful film that devotes much screen time to serious, surprisingly intense dramatic scenes where characters debate Catholicism, the role of religion in modern society and the concept of mankind misinterpreting aliens as gods. God Told Me To keeps this heady brew afloat thanks to Cohen's relentless approach - the finished product shows the usual rough edges and rushed scenes that pop up in his work but he follows through on his outrageous ideas without fear or hesitation. Along the way, he achieves a number of genuinely haunting moments: the best are a moment where a man under the spell of the villain calmly recounts how he killed his own family and the scene where Peter discovers the identity of his true parents. Moments like these are incredibly powerful because God Told Me To happens to be blessed with a stellar cast: the underrated Tony LoBianco gives one of his best perfomances as Peter, giving a human center to the unusual story by making the confusion and inner torment of the character painfully real. Deborah Raffin and Sandy Dennis add further dramatic weight as the strong, very different female figures (the campus intellectual and troubled surrogate mother-type, respectively) that he can't choose between. The combination of Cohen's approach and these skilled performances add up to a film that has greater power than its outlandish plot would hint at. In the end, some viewers might be thrown off by Cohen's rough-hewn style and the bizarre ideas but God Told Me To is ideal viewing for cult movie fans.