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God Told Me To Main

God Told Me To 4K UHD/ Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Blue Underground

God Told Me To Large

Written and directed by Larry Cohen
1976, 91 minutes, Rated R
Released on July 19th, 2022

Starring:
Tony Lo Bianco as Peter J. Nicholas
Sandy Dennis as Martha Nicholas
Deborah Raffin as Casey Forster
Sylvia Sydney as Elizabeth Mullin
Sam Levene as Everett Lukas
Robert Drivas as David Morten
Richard Lynch as Bernard Phillips

God Told Me To 01 God Told Me To 02

Review:

New York City is under assault by a wave of seemingly random acts of violence that have one thing in common: the perpetrators confess in their final moments that their crimes were committed at the behest of God. First, a sniper atop a water tower kills fifteen people before telling Det. Peter Nicholas “God told me to” and jumping to his death. A police officer goes on a shooting spree during the St. Patrick’s Day parade with the same religious message and many other murders follow the pattern. Det. Nicholas is drawn into this mystery and discovers a string of unexpected leads, including virgin births, gender-fluid suspects and spiritual intervention, all of which point to a personal connection to the case that will challenge his belief system.

The late, great Larry Cohen (Q: The Winged Serpent, It’s Alive) was a master storyteller, an expert at surprising his audience and never shied away from infusing his films with biting social commentary. He also excelled at the art of stealing a shot – filming in a prominent public location without permission or permits. He would frequently stage an action scene or some shocking event in the streets and film raw reactions from unsuspecting bystanders. New York City was his home and the focus of most of his stories and he cranked out endless scripts over four decades.

God Told Me To is a perfect example of Cohen firing on all cylinders with a dark tale of faith and fanaticism. There are a lot of big ideas in this picture and he doesn’t flinch when pursuing complicated questions. His heroes are flawed but ultimately upstanding, keeping audiences firmly on their side. Cohen is also known for his storytelling curveballs that keep viewers on their toes. He thoroughly explores an idea and pushes through to the logical conclusion, even if it doesn’t match audience expectations.

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Tony Lo Bianco (The Honeymoon Killers, The French Connection) stars as Peter Nicholas, the cop trying to figure out what the hell is tearing his city apart. He is determined and unwavering but not above bending the law when he needs to or loses his temper. Lo Bianco carries an intensity that is critical to this character’s mindset and he does a fantastic job carrying the picture. Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) plays Peter’s estranged wife Martha, who is recovering from some sort of emotional crisis. She doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but her scenes are pivotal. In the role of Peter’s patient girlfriend Casey, Deborah Raffin (Scanners II) helps ground the picture by serving as an early voice of reason. The great Sylvia Sydney (Damien: Omen II) is the mysterious Elizabeth Mullin, who holds a crucial piece of the puzzle and her scene is wonderful. Rounding out the core cast is the always-watchable Richard Lynch (Bad Dreams, The Sword and the Sorcerer) playing something different from a straight-up villain. Eagle eyed viewers will happily catch the incomparable Andy Kaufman (Heartbeeps) as the crazed cop marching in the parade.

God Told Me To is another powerful film from Larry Cohen that has few moments of levity but keeps viewers fully engaged. Some of his ideas are pretty far out there, but he never pushes too far into absurdity. His films serve as a sort of window looking back to old New York during the gritty 1970s, a place that has long since been sanitized. If you are somehow unfamiliar with his work, I encourage you to correct that immediately and this picture is a fine place to start.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, featuring an all-new 4K scan and restoration from of the original camera negative, picture quality has never been better. There is so much detail in this image, it looks like it was shot far more recently than its forty-plus-year vintage. Colors are impressively bold and black levels are bottomless.

Audio options include a new Dolby Atmos track, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix, the original DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono as well as a Dolby Digital French 2.0 dub if you are so inclined. Ordinarily, I tend to go with the surround options, and while these are both excellent, I am partial to the original mono recording.

Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

There are two audio commentaries, a vintage track with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen and a newly-recorded track with film historians Steve Mitchell (King Cohen) and Troy Howarth. The Cohen track is where it’s at in terms of firsthand knowledge of the production, with Cohen sharing many an informative and entertaining production story as well as information on his cast and locations.

The second track with Mitchell and Howarth is also a lot of fun, as these guys are huge fans of both Cohen and this movie. They discuss casting decisions, the use of the city as a character, and the energy Cohen brings to his pictures. They go on to talk about other great NYC cop films, the contributions of consultant Randy Jergenson, the amazing locations and cameos of various character actors throughout.

In the archival interview Heaven & Hell on Earth (2015, 12 minutes), actor Tony Lo Bianco tells many colorful stories involving stealing shots, the mob, working with Cohen on schedule and on budget, and the one scene he didn’t care for.

Bloody Good Times (2015, 9 minutes) is an interview with special effects artist Steve Neill, who talks about building the bizarre vagina gag for the picture. He continues with stories of working with Cohen on Full Moon High, The Stuff, It’s Alive III and Return to Salem’s Lot.

God Told Me to Bone (2015, 21 minutes) is a Q & A with Cohen at the New Beverly in which the director talks about various highlights, including shooting in the NYC parade and working with Tony Lo Bianco, Robert Forster, Andy Kaufman and composer Bernard Hermann. He also shares his thoughts on the marketing campaign and audience reaction.

Lincoln Center Q & A with Larry Cohen (2002, 8 minutes) offers highlights of the evening from an audience member’s VHS footage. Cohen says he is drawn to characters in his films and puts performances first.

There are two theatrical trailers, one under the title God Told Me To, the other as Demon!, joined by five TV spots for God and two for Demon!

A photo gallery (58 images) offers a look at international poster art, home video art, publicity shots and promotional stills.

God Told Me To 09 God Told Me To 10

Grades:

Movie: Fourstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
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Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fivestars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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