God Told Me To (Larry Cohen / U.S., 1976):

Divine sacrilege, tabloid illumination. It opens on a note adduced from the Charles Whitman shooting spree (bullets raining down on New Yorkers from a water tower), and builds to a gutty transmutation of D.H. Lawrence’s "Holy Family" (Fantasia of the Subconscious). The rampages kick off with a sniper picking off the pedestrians below, followed by a sudden massacre on St. Patrick's Day parade and a milquetoast’s slaughter of his own family -- lost in tranquil elation, every murderer gives the film’s piously sinister title as his reason. Trying to track down the urban Mabuse behind the killings is Tony Lo Bianco, a police detective who, as a devout Catholic juggling sex, divorce, masculinity and guilt, embodies more tensions than the case he’s investigating. Forgetting things is the next best thing to explaining them, one character boasts, but Larry Cohen is all about blowing lids off, his guerilla derangement of the Gospel leaves absolutely no anxiety unprodded. From the Nativity to It’s Alive is one step, Mary here is one of "the last two virgins," Sylvia Sidney in a retirement home remembering extraterrestrial rape and insemination. If the detective turns out to be the Messiah, does that make his solarized, insinuatingly hermaphroditical brother (Richard Lynch) the Antichrist or something far more threatening to him, a forbidden liberator? On the sidelines of the Christian spectacle, newsroom veteran Sam Levene lends a tinge of Jewish acerbity: "Out of chaos, reason." The Chariots of the Gods?, Watergate and Wall Street, the quivering labia of order, salvation and Egyptian curses, helter-skelter eyes on Andy Kaufman’s doughy face. A work of genius, in other words, possibly the Cohen joint that brims with the most all-pervasive invention and danger, as radical a Seventies "incoherent text" as Taxi Driver and a clear linchpin of The X-Files. With Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Robert Drivas, Mike Kellin, William Roerick, and Harry Bellaver.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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