Director – Larry Cohen
Cast – Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Signey, Sam Levene, Robert Drivas, Mike Kellin
Release Year – 1976
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here is a flick I stumbled onto thanks to my recent purchase of Lucio Fulci’s “City of the Living Dead”, which was put out by cult DVD distributor Blue Underground. Thanks to an advertisement in the pamphlet my film came with, I was able to learn a bit about this film’s plot and was hooked on this film from the get-go. Written and directed by none other than horror legend Larry Cohen, who put out such classics as “It’s Alive!” and “The Stuff”, this is another great effort from him that will prove to be a great watch for those interested in religious horror.
This flick follows a devoutly religious NYC detective who is being bombarded with a growing number of suspicious murders in which the murderers, who never tried to run from the scene of the crime, say that “God” told them to do it. The crimes continue to plague the city and the NYC goes to extreme measure to get behind what is causing the murders. However in his search to uncover the truth he learns a long buried secret about this past, a secret that will lead him to the cause of these suspicious murders.
What really makes this film such a positive experience is how deeply original it is. Sure we have seen films and television shows where someone commit’s a crime “in the name of God”, but I have yet to see one where it gains steam and winds up turning into some kind of outbreak with an original background story. It’s just an awesome idea. Larry Cohen’s direction in this film is positive as well. He does a great job setting up the atmosphere for this film with it’s dark and gloomy sets. Although not necessarily a “scary” film, this flick does come with some pretty creepy scenes that are sure to please those who are into religious horror, such as myself. I don’t know what it is about this horror-sub genre, but it always interests me, maybe because I grew up in church so I naturally have something to relate to with these types of flicks.
As the film progresses it manages to get all the more interesting, throwing in a few different elements and interesting twists. The background behind the murders is an awesome one, I can honestly say that I really did not see it coming. Creativity is key in these types of flicks, and Mr. Cohen accomplished just that. The character performances in this film were well done, a surprising fact given this flick is the usual low-budget type production synonymous with Larry Cohen’s work.
Although I did enjoy Larry Cohen’s writing and direction in this film I did have one complaint…it’s pacing. This film does tend to drag at times, thanks in most part to some needless scenes that if not done without, should have at least been edited tighter. I am somewhat disappointed that this film dragged a bit because not only does it have an interesting story, but it’s just shy of 90 minutes in length. A 90 minute film SHOULD NOT drag. This happens often to films that are close to two hours in length, but a 90 minute effort? That is unacceptable.
This film does make up for it’s mediocre pacing with it’s awesome climax. I was quite surprised at just how epic this film’s climax is, and it’s absolute ending is a little on the less-than-happy side, but enjoyable nonetheless and a great way to end this flick.
Overall, this is a positive watch that I recommend to fans of Larry Cohen’s work or to fans of religious horror. This flick has an interesting story and is sure to please those who want to watch an original horror film.