Inspired by a mysterious, messianic figure, otherwise ordinary NYC citizens murder strangers and family alike; when asked why, they calmly explain by way of this picture's title. Obsessed with this string of slaughter, a pious detective (Tony Lo Bianco, in a rare sympathetic role) gradually discovers the source of their common divine domination - something he could never presage, nor imagine for himself!
Larry Cohen's fifth feature outing could scarcely be cruder...God Told Me To is sloppily shot and cut, but this slipshod style works, throwing its audience off-balance and vulnerable to at least a few poking shocks and effective scares, the creepiest of which are as pervasive as Ancylostoma. Lo Bianco is in top form, wisely cast against type in the emotionally exhaustive lead. His co-stars' performances rate from unexceptional competence to amusing, hammy diversion, but even those few who can't act are a kick to watch. Cohen's worst recurring habit is to overwrite an ingenious story, and GTMT is another victim of this tendency. A leaden sub-plot regarding the detective's marital affairs encumbers narrative momentum, despite supplying a plum melodramatic turn for Sandy Dennis. Even better than the cast, Frank Cordell's lush, histrionic final score ended the veteran composer's career with a bang, alternating between tragic neo-romantic swells and eerie drones!
Messily produced yet fancifully deranged, what first seems merely sacrilegious twists into a horrific homage to sci-fi B-classics. Cohen may have cut too many corners during production, but he spared no expense of afflatus.
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About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan (rbuchanan)
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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