Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) is a police detective for New York City. He is called in when a lone gunman, perched atop a water tower, starts killing random people in the city streets. Peter climbs the water tower to try to talk the gunman down. Instead, the man tells Peter that God told him to kill. He then jumps from the tower to his death. Peter is a devout Catholic so the reason the man gives for killing innocent people shakes Peter up.
This is the first in a line of murders, all random, where the killer stated that they were under direction from God. Following the event at the water tower there was a mass stabbing at a grocery store, a mass shooting in the St. Patrick’s Day parade by a police officer (Andy Kaufman), and David Morten (Robert Drivas), a mild-mannered man who killed his entire family.
Nicholas’ investigation into the killers brings out the story of a woman who says she was artificially inseminated by aliens and gave birth to a child who was both male and female. Nicholas learns that the child, Bernard Phillips (Richard Lynch), who is now an adult, has alien psychic powers. Bernard has long blond hair and a glowing aura around him. He has a group of followers that worship him and believe he is a Christ-like figure due to his virgin birth. Nicholas is invited to join the group but Nicholas refuses.
Nicholas tries to tell his bosses that there is a religious component to the murders, but they ignore him. he leaks the information to the press which sends the public into a panic. The murders continue. In the process of investigating the reason behind the murders, Nicholas finds out some unnerving things about his own heritage and about Elizabeth Mullen (Sylvia Sidney), the mother he never met.
“God Told Me To” AKA “Demon” was released in 1976 and was written, directed and produced by Larry Cohen. It is an American crime horror and science fiction film with police procedural undertones. The movie was produced by an uncredited Roger Corman.
There are several moving parts with this movie so keeping the players straight, as well as the various threads, might be a little challenging. In addition, the movie morphs from genre to genre. It starts as a crime film but adds science fiction, religious and horror elements making one big soup. One minute Nicholas is following clues and the next a naked woman is being taken aboard a spaceship. Toss in a few pimps and drug dealers and you have stuff going on that, in some cases, are only slightly connected to each other. Other strange elements are slipped in as well. The strangest to me was the visual of the half alien, half human Bernard Phillips with a vagina on the side of his torso.
Cohen thought that God was one of the most violent characters ever so basing the film’s violence on the bible seems like a normal transition. Cohen was also a fan of Erich von Däniken’s book “Chariots of the Gods” so aliens being credited for everything in human history was also not much of a stretch.
I’m surprised the movie didn’t get a lot of criticism from Christians for its “god is an alien” themes. But it was released in the mid 70’s so maybe no.