Tuesday, August 28, 2007


GOD TOLD ME TO (AKA “Demon” 1976, USA, Larry Cohen)
Cure a man and you impress a few people who already believe anyway. Kill a multitude and you can convince a nation. It worked with the Egyptians.

In the sixties, screenwriter Larry Cohen pitched an idea to Alfred Hitchcock himself, about a sniper who pins a man inside a New York City phone booth, forcing him to repent of his secret sins. It was 35 years before PHONE BOOTH got made. But in the mid-seventies, Cohen wrote, produced and directed another flick with some of those elements – and a whole lot more! Killing sprees, top secret cabals, infidelity and guilt, alien abductions, cheesy special effects, pretentious dialogue, pointless scenes, virgin births and a hippy Christ – it's a trip, man.

A devout Catholic cop investigates a series of mass murders by otherwise model citizens: blissfully unremorseful, each of them intones the title line before dying a sudden death. There is very little in the film that works, though I did find the climactic sequence, tenement stairways and golden light, curiously effective: maybe only because it reminded me of JACOB'S LADDER, though with a far different significance.

Unless God tells you to, I wouldn't suggest that this B-minus movie is worth the trouble to seek out. As hard as it tries, it's just plain bad. But if you're one of those people who takes delight in crummy films – or in the aesthetic frisson of looking for what might be glints of gold in a panful of gravel – you might find it an intriguing mess.

Available at Videomatica

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