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Larry Cohen
Tony Lo Bianco, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney
Writing Credits:
Larry Cohen

A New York detective investigates a series of murders committed by random New Yorkers who claim that "God told them to."

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
French Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 7/19/2022

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Larry Cohen
• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Steve Mitchell
• “Heaven and Hell on Earth” Featurette
• “Bloody Good Times” Featurette
• “God Told Me to Bone” Featurette
• Q&A with Writer/Director Larry Cohen
• Trailers & TV Spots
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


God Told Me To [4K UHD] (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 21, 2022)

Given its title, one might expect an earnest tale of Christian faith from 1976’s God Told Me To. Instead, we get a supernatural thriller.

Harold Gorman (Sammy Williams) mounts a tower in NYC and opens fire on strangers. When NYPD Detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) asks why, Harold replies “God told me to” and then commits suicide.

Though this seems like the act of a lone nutbag, additional killing sprees ensue, and each culprit makes the same claim of divine instruction. This sends Peter on a dangerous journey to find the ultimate cause of these deadly events.

Though Larry Cohen’s career as a screenwriter started on TV in 1958 – and shifted to movies in 1966 – he didn’t make his directorial debut until 1972’s Bone. Cohen continued as a filmmaker until 1996’s Original Gangstas, but 1974’s It’s Alive acts as possibly his most famous effort.

A tale of an evil child, Alive seemed to take 1968’s seminal Rosemary’s Baby as a strong influence, and it probably got funded thanks to the enormous popularity of 1973’s Exorcist. Despite its apparent existence as an opportunistic knockoff, It’s Alive actually became a pretty good genre effort in its own right.

Given my appreciation for It’s Alive, I went into Told with decent expectations. Told came as Cohen’s follow-up to Alive, and its premise offers promise.

The movie’s concept does manage to keep us involved, but the execution seems less than stellar. While Cohen does enough with the story to maintain our attention, the movie doesn’t quite sizzle like I might hope.

The manner in which Cohen tells the tale becomes the biggest obstacle, as he doesn’t pursue the material in the most coherent manner. At its core, it makes sense to simply give us a detective movie that follows Peter as he delves deeper and deeper into the weirdness behind the murders.

To some degree, that becomes the case, but too much of Told branches out into unnecessary tangents. In addition, even when it sticks with Peter and pursues the main plot, the story remains a bit scattered and less than cohesive.

As a result, the first act of Told fares best. The movie manages a good level of intrigue as it leads us into the creepy story.

Told does manage to rebound moderately in the third act. When we get revelations toward the end, matters take some compelling turns and allow us to get a decent climax and resolution.

Nonetheless, that rough middle stretch really drags and takes a lot of the punch out of Told. While the third act brings some intrigue, it lacks the drama and fireworks necessary to overcome the middling second segment.

This means though Told winds up as a sporadically interesting supernatural thriller, it does not offer one that consistently satisfies. There’s a really good movie buried in here but Cohen can’t elicit the consistency the tale needs to really work.

Footnote: keep an eye out for Andy Kaufman as a murderous cop in a “blink and you’ll miss him” sequence.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

God Told Me To appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The Dolby Vision presentation held up pretty nicely over the last 46 years.

Sharpness usually worked well. Despite some slightly iffy wide and/or interior elements, the movie usually brought nice clarity and accuracy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, noise reduction failed to become a concern, and print flaws also remained absent.

Despite a light blue/green tint at times, Told usually opted for a fairly natural palette, and the hues stood out in an appealing manner. The tones looked vivid and full throughout the film, and the disc’s HDR added oomph and power to the colors.

Blacks felt deep and rich, while shadows brought appealing clarity. The HDR contributed extra impact to whites and contrast as well. Though it clearly demonstrated the limits of the source, I felt impressed by this above-average presentation.

Did a low budget flick from 1976 need a full Dolby Atmos remix? Probably not, but Told got one anyway.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the track made fairly active use of the various speakers – maybe a little too active given the movie’s roots, as the mix could feel somewhat contrived at times. While the soundscape spread out the material in a broad manner, it didn’t seem especially well-integrated.

This meant music that came from around the room without great specificity, and effects that offered too much specificity. Though the latter came from a mix of localized spots, they blended together in a somewhat mediocre manner.

Still, the track offered a decent sense of the various settings. It probably could’ve worked better if the designers showed more restraint, though.

Audio quality seemed fine given the material’s age. Speech could feel a bit reedy, but the lines seemed fairly natural and they lacked issues with edginess.

Music offered pretty nice range and warmth, and effects seemed perfectly adequate. Though these elements lacked great impact, they felt fairly concise and showed some acceptable low-end. While I’d prefer a less busy soundscape, this still became a more than decent mix for an aging film.

A replication of the audio Told ran with back in 1976, a DTS-HD MA 1.0 mix went monaural. I gave that version a listen as well and liked it more than the Atmos track.

Quality remained similar for both, but the scope of the mono mix felt more natural. Music and effects integrated in a more believable manner. Go with the Atmos if you insist you must use all those speakers you bought, but I think the mono version works better.

As we shift to extras, we find three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Larry Cohen. Accompanied by fellow filmmaker William Lustig, Cohen provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, effects, and various notes.

“Various notes” does the heavy lifting here, as the track consists more of anecdotes than strict facts. That makes it a loose discussion but nonetheless one that gives us an engaging view of the film.

For the second commentary, we hear from film historians Steve Mitchell and Troy Howarth. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of Cohen’s life and career as well as different aspects of Told.

Because I enjoyed prior Howarth commentaries I heard, I looked forward to this one. Alas, Howarth takes a major backseat to Mitchell, and that becomes a negative.

Mitchell made a documentary about Cohen, so much of the commentary follows stories from his interactions with the filmmaker. A little of this goes a long way, especially because Mitchell sometimes shows a surprisingly weak grasp of the facts.

For instance, Mitchell doesn’t even know when Told went into production, as he thinks they shot it a year or two after its actual release!

How can a film historian get such a basic detail wrong? Howarth attempts to chime in but Mitchell barely leaves him room to provide any thoughts.

Also strangely, it appears neither Mitchell nor Howarth listened to the Cohen/Lustig commentary even though it’s been out there for years. They repeat a fair amount of info from the first track, an issue they would’ve avoided if they’d checked out the Cohen/Lustig track first.

None of these problems make the Howarth/Mitchell commentary bad, as it comes with a decent mix of insights. Nonetheless, it comes with too many flaws to become a winner.

The 4K disc also includes two trailers and seven TV spots. Note that most of these sell the movie as God Told Me To but some use the alternate title Demon.

On the included Blu-ray disc, we find additional materials, and Heaven and Hell On Earth goes for 11 minutes, 31 seconds and offers notes from actor Tony Lo Bianco.

Here we learn about Lo Bianco’s casting, his performances, and his experiences on the film. Lo Bianco offers a short but reasonably informative chat.

Bloody Good Times runs nine minutes, 12 seconds and brings comments from special effects artist Steve Neill. He discusses what got him into his career as well as his work on Told and subsequent experiences. Expect a decent view of the subject matter, though we don’t really get much info about Told itself.

Next comes God Told Me to Bone, a Q&A with Cohen shot at the New Beverly. It spans 21 minutes, 21 seconds.

Cohen relates anecdotes about the movie’s creation. A few new nuggets emerge, but most of the Q&A just repeats content from his commentary.

Another Q&A with Writer/Director Larry Cohen ensues. Shot at Lincoln Center in 2002, it goes for eight minutes, eight seconds and gives more info about the movie’s creation. Expect it to also seem redundant after the prior materials.

Finally, we get a Poster & Still Gallery. It offers 55 images that mix ads, shots from the production and home video art. It brings us a good compilation.

Note that the package includes a new Blu-ray and not the original release from 2015. I didn’t review the 2022 BD because Blue Underground didn’t release it outside of this 4K set.

At its core, God Told Me To offers an intriguing supernatural thriller. Unfortunately, the end result only sporadically delivers the expected drama and punch. The 4K UHD brings pretty good picture as well as appropriate audio and a mix of bonus materials. Told manages to keep the viewer’s attention much of the time, but it falters too often to truly satisfy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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