Saturday, September 8, 2012

GOD TOLD ME TO (Larry Cohen, 1976, USA)

“Reveal the dragon thro’ the human; coursing swift as fire, To the close hall of counsel, where his Angel form renews.” -America A Prophecy by William Blake

NYC Detective Peter Nicholas is drawn into a murderous nexus of religious barbarism and alien intrigue. He must accept the fallacy of his own past while confronting the last vestiges of his archaic and crumbling Catholic upbringing, and enter into the final apocryphal battle with his own brimstone doppelganger. 

The film’s startling violent first shots are reminiscent of Charles Whitman’s rampage; ten years earlier, he killed 15 innocent bystanders from the top of a tower at the University of Texas before being gunned down by police. Director Larry Cohen uses this traumatic event as a template for his intriguing narrative; but here the killer talks happily with Detective Nicholas and he jubilantly responds, “God told me to kill those people” before leaping to his death. Cohen then jump-cuts (literally) to the Detective awakening from a nightmare, his inner vision haunted by this ordeal. As the unrelated murders and the soft spoken excuses continue, Nicholas begins to investigate a common thread: each killer had contact with a strange blonde haired (blue-eyed?) guru. 

Cohen is best when he alludes to the violent act, such as the father who shot his wife and two children to death, and lets the killer sit in a gentle repose, describing the act as meditatively as a transcendent joy: truly chilling and realistic. As Nicholas searches for this mystical demagogue (demongogue) he discovers the secret to his own mysterious past. He must dissolve the malignant and pervasive tendrils of his own faith and accept the Truth. Nicholas must ride the Chariots Of The Gods to his own fiery salvation and face his greatest enemy; he must destroy that beautiful creature of light whose incandescence rules through fear and loathing, a monster who is actually the shadow race Homo Superior. 

Peter Nicholas carries the burden of guilt for all humanity; he accepts his punishment and smiles to the camera. His body displays Christ’s stigmata and his hollow words echo the abyss; “God told me to”. 

Final Grade: (C)


Page said...

I'm such a git that I thought the title said "Gold Told Me To" so of course I went in thinking What an odd title". Grrr Anyway!

It sounds like it had promise (perhaps it needed more monsters?) You do great work in seeing these obscure films then reviewing them for the rest of us.

Another fun read on your honest take on "God Told Me To"

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Page! I suppose "gold" and "god" are the same to many people:-)

This is a film with potential but that's typical of Cohen's films. IT'S ALIVE is probably his best (with a nice Bernard Herrmann score!) so I'll post my review soon.