God Told Me To (1976)
What’s It About: Larry Cohen’s gritty, metaphysical and downright blasphemous horror movie wherein a devoted Catholic detective’s faith and sanity are put to the test when random people commit random murders all in the name of “God.” As the plot thickens, its revealed that the detective is somehow involved with the scheme more than he realizes.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- The sniper in the opening scene is a crack shot! Every shot fired hits someone. And from multiple angles. At first I thought it was several snipers but nope just one helluva marksman.
- Detective Peter Nicholas tells the sniper after introducing each other: “We don’t kill people we know, do we Harold. Only strangers.” What?! Cain knew Abel. Lizzie Borden surely knew her folks.
- So, Det. Nicholas has a girlfriend and a soon to be ex-wife and already there’s too much subplot that I’m not even paying attention.
- Andy fraking Kaufman?! Please say he’s the deranged next killer. Yup. One of them anyway. T’ank you veddy much.
- Nice little Psycho nod with the knife-wielding maniac coming out of nowhere to the guy coming up the stairs. Why isn’t the cop pulling out his weapon? Did he forget it at home?
- OK I totally understand the religious/Christian theme but now there’s a virgin birth subplot? Where is this film going with this?
- So now there’s a subplot involving a crooked cop in cahoots with drug dealers and the drug dealer kills him because the cop wants out. The dealer took advantage of the God killings by scrawling the word God on the wall with blood. Why does every Larry Cohen movie have to have so many subplots?
- There’s a scene involving about 2 dozen men discussing God as if he’s a CEO or direct leader to just them. I so hope George Burns addresses them. One of the men gave a tip to the cops about the St. Patrick’s Day parade killings with Andy Kaufman.
- Det. Nicholas talks to a guy in the (let’s call them) League of God and when the detective mentions the lady who have the virgin birth years back, the League of God guy starts to slowly die, like God is force-choking him. The detective tells him to fight Him. That’s just hysterical.
- Then the Judas of the League, Logan, tries to push the Det. Nicolas into a subway train but fails miserably but the Nicholas makes Logan take him to God. Logan tells the detective that God is getting stronger everyday. I’m a bit rusty on my Catholicism but isn’t God supposed to be omnipotent and all-powerful etc.? Is it because he’s “alive” now on Earth that he needs to grow and takes time to get stronger? This film is crazy. After Logan escorts the cop down to the basement of a building he is killed in the elevator.
- So now the detective is actually talking to a manifestation of God which is a glowing woman in robes with a male voice. God is in the basement of some NYC building with random fires on the floor.
- This was a pointless scene as Nicholas has some tense words with the almighty who seems timid and scared. After Nicholas basically says he’s not unlike God, God turns up the heat (literally) and forces Nicholas to flee. So is Nicholas a deity now? With a half hour left, we better get some good answers.
- Nicholas than goes to his old orphanage so he can learn who his mother is. Another subplot involving Nicholas possibly also being a virgin birth mentioned earlier. His mom is Silvia Sidney! Better known to our generation as the woman who played Juno in Beetlejuice.
- In a scene that has to be seen, she tells him about her abduction by a flying spacecraft which stripped her naked and inseminated her while she floated in a ball of light. Inbetween the visuals of this young woman naked are quick edits of what looks to be vaginas. I’m not sure if its the victim’s or an alien entity as there are no legs attached to this skin-toned vertical slit. So now we know Nicholas was born by an extraterrestrial and a human mother. He’s extra-special.
- Nicholas’ girlfriend then visits his wife because she’s worried about him, who she hasn’t seen in over 3 days. Nicholas than arrives and says goodbye to both of them. Tying up loose ends I suppose.
- Next scene Nicholas goes to a pool hall to confront the drug dealer who killed the crooked cop. Since Nicholas now knows that he’s a god and he is now omnipotent. (I guess he got these powers in the basement where the other god was) although he seemed surprised his girlfriend and wife were together so maybe he has to consciously think of something to get an omnipotent answer. Anyway, Nicholas makes the drug dealer kill some homies for no reason and then makes him kill himself.
- Nicholas then goes to an old rundown building and slowly walks up a few flights of stairs. He then sees the same glow coming out of a door that we saw when he met God in the basement. He then checks his revolver to see if its loaded. Is he really going to shoot the other god? Can be even do that? And if he’s an all-powerful deity himself why would be even need a weapon?
- God prefers to live in squander and filth according to this film. You’d think a deity with such power would want to live the good life? A penthouse on the upper-west side or something.
- So God tells Nicholas that they could start a new race of all powerful beings and says he can bear Nicholas’ children. Then God lifts up his cloak to reveal a vaginal opening in the side of his abdomen. Nicholas than bitch-slaps God a few times and then starts to choke him to submission. He tries to shot him but the building starts to crumble around them. Nicholas narrowly escapes but God’s not so lucky.
- Why would God create or need to create more deities? What’s his objective here? Why did he make all those other people kill people? Just to instill fear? Don’t New Yorkers in the 70s have enough fear? God is an effeminate glowing weirdo with a vagina in his belly?
- Peter is arrested for killing God. No joke. He’s handcuffed and escorted into a courthouse. He claims God told him to do it and a short written epilogue says he was committed to an insane asylum.
Is It Actually Scary: Not remotely. Even if you’re a devout Christian/Catholic/Evangelical this film would perhaps do more harm in offending you but never get you scared.
How Much Gore: Not enough to really mention.
Best Scene: Definitely the flashback of the alien abduction. Its so bizarre, silly and crudely done with mid-70s special effects that its so-bad-it’s-good.
Worst Scene: The first time Det. Nicholas meets “God” in the basement of some old New York building. Its supposed to be some tense and confrontational as well as revealing the identity of “God” and his intentions but it falls completely flat, is terribly boring and amounted to really nothing. You would assume that having our hero meet his maker would be some important and awesome scene but sadly its the worst scene in the whole dull movie.
Any Nudity: Sorta. Kinda. The alien flashback scene has a quick glimpse of a woman’s bare chest and if you want to be technical, the vagina in “God’s” abdomen.
Overall: Larry Cohen movies are somewhat of an enigma to me. On the surface they are fantastic movies. They look great and have very interesting premises. However, they always fall short of being great movies. The Stuff, It’s Alive, Q: The Winged Serpent; all decent ideas for movies but sadly, Mr. Cohen is no Roger Corman and his movies are easily forgettable. God Told Me To is an interesting idea and I’m a tad shocked it was ever made (God is an alien with a vagina in his belly isn’t exactly a mainstream idea even for the mid-70s) but it was just poorly written and too far-out to be good. I can roughly compare him to Guillermo del Toro in that I think del Toro is a great visionary director and has decent ideas but every time I see a del Toro movie it leaves little to be desired to see again. Lacking is a good word to use but I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t love their movies. But getting back to Cohen, this is the fifth film I’ve seen recently of his and they are all good in some regards but lousy in others. In other words his movies are not the total package. Watch The Stuff and tell me it was a worthwhile movie.
Score: 3 Abdominal Vaginas (out of 10)