God Told Me To. 1976. USA. Directed by Larry Cohen. 92 min.
Original, extended version. “Mass murder, insanity, Catholic guilt… and a hell of alot of violence” read the headline of Club 57’s flyer for its 1980 screening of God Told Me To, hosted by Sleazoid Express editor Bill Landis. In Cohen’s grisly thriller—reputedly inspired by his reading of the Bible—a homegrown cult leader instigates a series of terroristic murders across New York City, which leads a detective to the discovery of alien visitation, virgin births, and his own complicity. Faded Hollywood star Sylvia Sidney appears as a nursing home resident (a role she would repeat in Tim Burton’s 1996 Mars Attacks!), while rising star Andy Kaufman makes his film debut as a possessed cop. Films like this contributed to the transitioning of exploitation film aesthetics into the mainstream in the 1970s and ’80s.