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God Told Me To

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    Ian Jane
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  • God Told Me To



    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: February 24th, 2015.
    Director: Larry Cohen
    Cast: Tony Lo Bianco, Sandy Dennis
    Year: 1976
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    “Warning: This film contains scenes of violence and intense horror!” How can you resist?

    Larry Cohen's 1976 feature God Told Me To (also known as Demon) follows a New York City citizen named Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco), an NYPD detective and practicing Catholic married to his wife, Martha (Sandy Dennis). His marriage has seen better days - she's got some mental issues and he's fed up enough to start looking for love in all the wrong places, the most obvious being a fine young filly named Casey Forster (Deborah Raffin).

    If his personal life weren't complicated enough, there's his professional life. It's not easy working as a cop in the big city and it gets even worse when he's asked to look into a rash of murders happening across New York. There doesn't appear to be anything linking the cases at all except for one thing - the killers each say the words 'God told me to' before doing the deed. As Peter starts working the case and digging his way deeper into connecting the dots, he comes up with a possible suspect in the form of a man named Bernard Phillips (Richard Lynch)… a man who may or may not be the offspring of a case of alien/human rape! Peters soon learns that nothing about Phillips is what it seems. This case may be more than just another average murder story, it may have to do with the birth of religion and the origins of evil itself!

    Absolutely every bit as strange as that intentionally vague synopsis makes it sound, God Told Me To is Larry Cohen at his most unhinged. While on the surface it seems to be a horror film it mashes genres left, right and center and winds up something all its own. It's a swirling combination of conspiracy theories, religious lunacy, horror and sci-fi trappings and some genuinely chilly, sometimes almost prophetic, scenes of mass shootings and chaos in the most densely populated part of America. The opening scene, in which a man with a sniper rifle perched atop a water tower in Manhattan starts picking off passersby at random is freaky enough, but the scene in which the fuzz question a man who has just murdered his family and seems completely at peace with what he's just done is even creepier. There are moments like these scattered throughout the first hour or so of the movie and they're incredibly effective.

    Lo Bianco is really good in the lead here, playing his morally and theologically conflicted Catholic cop with some appreciable conviction. As he gets deeper into the mire that is this case he's believable in the way that he portrays both his confusion and his character's increasing stress level. Sandy Dennis and Deborah Raffin as the two very different women in his life do decent work here too while Richard Lynch is great as the possible reason behind all of this insanity. He tends to steal a few scenes in the movie, using his unorthodox appearance well to create a genuinely strange character. Also be on the lookout for an interesting cameo from none other than Andy Kaufman who appears in the film as one of those affected by… whatever it is that's happening here.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Blue Underground rolls out Larry Cohen's God Told Me To on Blu-ray in a transfer newly restored in high definition at 4K from the original negative in AVC encoded 1080p framed at 1.85.1. The results are pretty damn impressive, with detail really standing out here as a big improvement over the DVD release from years back (which looked very good for its time). Skin tones are nice and lifelike, there's not a trace of noise reduction and clarity and depth are vastly improved over the film's past releases. Colors look really nice here and black levels are very strong as well. Grain is prevalent throughout but it never gets clumpy the way some of Blue Underground's transfers for European films have - it looks nice and natural here. They really have done a pretty outstanding job on the visuals for this release, this is a top notch picture.

    Audio options are provided in DTS-HD 7.1, DTS-HD Mono and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with optional subtitles offered up in English SDH, French and Spanish. The lossless tracks sound better than the Dolby Digital mix, with the Mono track going for authenticity and coming out on top. The 7.1 mix does spread things out in a few scenes, mostly just the score and the occasional sound effect, but the dialogue stays up front for the most part, which would seem to be in keeping with how the film is meant to sound. The single channel mix sounds great, offering strong clarity and crystal clear dialogue. No issues with any hiss or distortion or wonky level spikes to note - regardless of which option you go for things will sound just fine.

    For those who didn't listen to it when it was originally released on DVD way back when, the commentary that Cohen provides moderated by Bill Lustig appears on this disc as well, and it's a great talk with Cohen covering pretty much everything you'd want to know about the movie. He talks about where some of the ideas came from, casting the picture, shooting on location in New York City, the film's use of stock footage, the score and how it's used in the picture, the editing - you get the idea. No stone is left unturned here and Cohen and Lustig get along well, which means they really get into the conversation here and keep it interesting and fun to listen to.

    From there we move on the a batch of new featurettes starting with Heaven And Hell On Earth which is an eleven minute interview with leading man Tony Lo Bianco. Here the actor speaks openly about his work on the picture, how he was moonlighting in a play around the time it was made, Cohen's directing style and the risks involved in working without permits in NYC and his thoughts on his co-stars and on the film's cult following. Special effects artist Steve Neill shows up in Bloody Good Times to discuss his work on the film for just over nine minutes. He talks about how he got into doing effects work, how he learned the trade and about his work not just on this film but quite a few other cult and horror pictures as well, some of which once again teamed him up with Cohen. Speaking of, the director shows up in God Told Me To Bone, which is a twenty-one minute Q&A session that was done at a screening of Gold Told Me To and Bone in Los Angeles a while back. Here he shares some amusing stories about the making of the film and working with his cast and crew. It covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary but it's worth watching. He also shows up in an eight minute Q&A shot at Lincoln Center in New York City that covers similar ground.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a few TV spots and a trailer under the God Told Me To title and then a trailer and a few TV spots under the alternate Demon title as well. Also be sure to check out a pretty extensive still gallery. Menus and chapter stops are also included.

    The Final Word:

    Blue Underground really rolled out the red carpet for this one and the movie is bizarrely compelling enough to completely warrant it. This is creative, low budget, seventies era NYC filmmaking at its best and its most insane - maybe it's a cliché to say it, but it's true that they really don't make them like this anymore.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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