Going to the big city is scary enough without watching a movie like God Told Me To. Here I have to explain to my kid to be vigilant. At any time you could face a mugger or a flasher or a real-true-to-life terrorist or even the dreaded street vendor with knock-offs of doom. After watching God Told Me To you have to fear roof top snipers and a parades. You have to fear the common person, the everyday Joe. You cannot assume any of the millions of people have your interest in mind or even a neutral mindset. You have to fear everyone. This is the kind of fear that becomes more relevant when you watch the evening news and realize that some guy just murdered two cops, an hour away from your house out of nowhere. Blue Underground has picked the perfect time to refocus our attention on a Larry Cohen, religious tension-dripper like God Told Me To. The real monsters are the human beings after all.
The opening sequence of God Told Me To features the aforementioned rooftop sniper in a familiar NYC location, a water tower on top of a building. It’s the kind of common place location you’ll see every day, traveling on a highway through Brooklyn or in a high rise. I was not keenly aware of the exact location of this particular spot, but I felt completely connected to the scene as any New York City dweller or visitor might. It's the kind of thing you've seen in the moving pictures at the theater. That’s what got my juices simmering and when I was able to truly realize that the power of God Told Me To is in its sensationalistic approach to the common place scenes. You would be faced with this type of location and situation regularly… simply walking along a corridor in one of the boroughs. Once you realize you ARE the target, you can start getting scared.
This is what Larry Cohen does so well. He turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, creating real fear out of the things we see everyday even when he’s working with supernatural or monster storylines. He’s especially good at showing the seedy underbelly of New York City. He provides a time capsule for those of us too young to be scared of NYC. I grew up in the post-Giuliani cleanup era. It means that going to New York City felt clean and wholesome. You could see a show or get a falafel sandwich without fearing for your wallet. Even in a movie as sensationalistic as Q The Winged Serpent, Cohen creates a feeling of real New York that almost let’s you believe that a Mayan diety is lurking in the silhouettes of the New York City skyline. This is the same thing that becomes immediately effective in God Told Me To especially in the opening scene. You’re looking up; something is killing you from above and yet it all feels so real. Monster or madman or madmen, Cohen can make you believe in all of them.
God Told Me To came out during a time when it was especially common place to question religious values whether in horror or on television. Think of movies like the Exorcist or the Omen and how they created questions about religion. Those are sensationalistic pictures with terrific elements of supernatural horror. A movie like God Told Me To creates those same questions about the nature of God, the nature of religious belief especially when confronting a troubled protagonist detective looking for a breakthrough on a rash of seemingly religiously motivated homicides and mass murder. Think of how All in the Family tackled the subject of religion through meaningful, thought provoking satire and discussion. God Told Me To tries to address the same issues of absolute righteousness while flipping the ultimate good on its ass. While the same test of the concept of God and religion are tested in God Told Me To, most of the conversation is done at the end of a weapon.
This is a gorgeous looking disc. It will surprise you that something so gritty and grindy, from an era where New York City was engorged with filth, could look so good. It has appropriate amounts of film grain balanced with contrast and crispness that Blue Underground is known for. It comes with an extensive extra package featuring an audio commentary with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen himself. Any opportunity to listen and learn from a Cohen commentary should be embraced as a creator of countless dark fantasy pictures. You’ll also get an interview with the star, Tony Lo Bianco, the special effects artist, Steve Neill and two separate Q&A with Cohen (one at the New Beverly and one at Lincoln Center). The interviews and Q&A are new from the DVD previously released by Blue Underground as is the cover art featuring poster style artwork which I prefer to the “Bible cover” DVD art. You’ll also get a poster and still gallery, TV Spots and the theatrical trailer.
God Told Me To is available now from Blue Underground:
From Blue Underground:
A rooftop sniper guns down 14 pedestrians on the streets of New York City. A mild-mannered dad takes a shotgun and blows away his wife and children. A cop goes on a sudden shooting spree at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. And each of these unlikely killers makes the same dying confession: "God told me to." Now a repressed Catholic NYPD detective (Tony Lo Bianco of THE HONEYMOON KILLERS and THE FRENCH CONNECTION) must uncover a netherworld of deranged faith, alien insemination and his own unholy connection to a homicidal messiah with a perverse plan for the soul of mankind.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Larry Cohen
- Heaven & Hell On Earth - Interview with Star Tony Lo Bianco
- Bloody Good Times - Interview with Special Effects Artist Steve Neill
- God Told Me To Bone - New Beverly Q&A with Larry Cohen
- Lincoln Center Q&A with Larry Cohen
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Poster & Still Gallery
- 7.1 DTS-HD; 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX; DTS-HD Mono
- English SDH, French, Spanish
- 90 Mins
- Not Rated
- Region Code: ALL