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Can ellen be saved ? 1974 film based on COG

from moon beam - Tuesday, April 11, 2006
accessed 1150 times

Can ellen be saved 74
Split image 82
Ticket to heaven 81

Plot Outline: A young girl in search of spiritual enlightenment joins a religious cult, and becomes the focus of a struggle between her family and the group.

Also Known As:
Children of God (USA) (working title)
Runtime: 90 min
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Sound Mix: Mono

Directed by
Harvey Hart

Writing credits
Emmett Roberts


TIMES MAG,10987,942791,00.html



Young man is sucked into an unnamed religious cult by beautiful girl and gets increasingly under the mind control of the cult leader. After his parents fail in their efforts to talk him out of it, they hire a guy who kidnaps and then de-programs him.

This was another overlooked gem of a movie about a college student who falls for a lady (Karen Allen), who is actually bait to recruit members for Homeland, a sort of hippie commune for teens and twentysomethings who are unsatisfied with their lives and find new meaning living in the place, led by Peter Fonda, a sort of David Koresch type. The kids spend the day building everything from scratch, such as furniture, pottery, and sleeping quarters, and are fed meals that a health food freak would not even touch, deprived of protein supposedly to supress their sexual feelings. After Michael O'Keefe's character finds new meaning in Homeland, he severs ties with his family permanently, and his parents hire a sleazy deprogramer (a way over the top performance by James Woods) to get him out of Homeland and back with them. The performances by Michael O'Keefe, Karen Allen, and Peter Fonda are rather bland and understated, but James Woods and Brian Dennehy, as O'Keefe's father give great performances. Recommend this highly, if you can find a video store with a copy.

Directed by
Ted Kotcheff

Writing credits
Robert Mark Kamen
Robert Kaufman

Also Known As:
Captured (Canada: English title)
Envoûtement, L' (Canada: French title)
Runtime: Sweden:111 min / USA:110 min
Country: Canada / USA
Language: English
Color: Color (Metrocolor)
Sound Mix: Mono
Certification: Finland:K-16 / Norway:15 / Sweden:15 / USA:R



After his girlfriend of many years leaves him, David participates at a summer camp in the country. He doesn't realize that it's a training camp for a fanatic religious sect. He can't resist the pressure of permanent group sessions, denial of sleep and food for long and becomes a willing slave of the organization. Their "father's" motto is: "Stay up, earn money, destroy the Satan!" - Satan, that's everyone who's against the sect. Members are shown how to kill themselves in case their parent kidnap them. When David's old friend Larry finds him in the camp, he can't believe how much he's changed. He works out a plan to free him and give him back his brain.

This was an extremely accurate account of recruitment, indoctrination and life in a coercive religious group. It also accurately portrayed the lengths some go to rescue people from this type of group, the lengths some will go to stay in the group and the difficulty some people have breaking out.

In addition to an accurate portrayal of the subject matter, the film is very well made. Although I doubt it would be considered as "art", the film moves along very well, has a good plot, good acting, great dialog and the production values are very good. I did not view this film for entertainment, but rather because of the subject matter. I was pleasantly surprised that it was outstanding as dramatic film, as well as educational.

Nick Mancuso throws his all into the part of David, a young man seeking some meaning from his messy life who ends up bound tight in the web of a quasi-religious cult group. But he's got some big competition from co-star Saul Rubinek.

In the early eighties there were a couple of films fascinated by ideas of brainwashing, religious cults and deprogramming. Split Image is a companion piece to this film, which will interest many simply because of Kim Catrall's appearance as the obsessessed Ruthie, but which is even more notable I think for the strong friendship between Saul Rubinek's stand-up comedian character and the troubled protagonist, David. The film builds a poignant, revealing portrait of these two friends whose bond is crucial in determining both their futures. Rubinek is one of those instantly familiar faces whose performances in films like The Contender, Nixon, True Romance, and Dick conceal him in that strange underclass of actors - the supporting player (as opposed to the more showy supporting "Actor" parts claimed by brilliant die-hards like Dennis Hopper and Dianne Wiest.)

In this film, however, he shines and deserves to be seen in an excellently performed role. Mancuso similarly hasn't had much chance to fire like he does here (admittedly he wasn't the greatest Marquis De Sade in the film of the same name a couple of years back). His transformation here though is painful to watch but compelling and easy to empathise with as he struggles with notions of identity and truth.

If this film has any problem it is that the film is kind of tailored-for-effect a little too neatly like a tv movie, but it still manages to provoke some suspense thanks to the intensely credible performers.

An interesting lost gem of the early eighties.

Tho on the surface it seems a bit dated, A TICKET TO HEAVEN is an offbeat, thoughtfully produced, and deeply absorbing tale about the religious cults of the 1970s. It shows in detail just HOW they work, and explains to us in step by step fashion just how rational, intelligent people, often with absolutely no interest whatever in religion, could wind up being recruited and converted to the unthinking followers of philosophies which, to outsiders, seem absolutely ridiculous.

The film is unique in that it also shows us one possible path back OUT of that jungle of conflicting ideas, tho the path chosen here is the most controversial of the possible choices. Unspoken, but always hovering over the action, are the issues of civil liberties and religious freedom. There's a LOT of heavy stuff going on here.

This film is a deep sleeper... a Canadian made gem that deserved much more attention than it got from US audiences.

Nick Mancuso plays David Capelle, a Toronto schoolteacher whose life is currently at loose ends after a painful breakup with his long time lover. He needs SOMETHING... ANYTHING... that will give back to his life the direction and stability that was lost.

On a vacation to California an old friend introduces him to a New Age religious group. From then on (and in an amazingly short time, just one weekend) David literally vanishes from his old life and the rest of the world, his every thought and action now dictated by the needs of his newfound "family". He has willingly given up his entire personality to the group-think of the movement.

David's sole link to his old life and the outside world is his friend Larry (Saul Rubenek), a Toronto accountant who aspires to stand up comedy. Larry's suspicions about occasional cryptic phone calls from David lead him to go to California to find out for himself just exactly what the hell is going on with David. After the group makes an attempt to recruit him too, Larry returns home to Toronto and sounds the alarm with David's friends and family.

After seeing the situation for themselves, David's family resorts to the most drastic action possible... kidnapping him from the group and using psychological deprogramming. This is probably the ONLY film or TV production that deals with this emotionally charged and legally sensitive topic truthfully, and in detail. It's electrifying!

There are standout performances here from the entire cast. Meg Foster as "Sister Ingrid", the leader of the local group, is intense and FRIGHTENING. She's a cold, calculating package of almost maniacal devotion to the movement. She gives an outstanding performance which, for me at least, was TOO good; in my mind she'll ALWAYS be "Sister Ingrid", no matter what role I see her in.

For sheer intensity tho, the grand prize goes to the Canadian actor R. H. Thompson. His portrayal as Linc Strunk, the deprogrammer that David's friends engage, is POWERFUL. Strunk is the antithesis of Sister Ingrid; he's just as cold, calculating, intelligent and determined as she is, but his mission is to convince David that the group's concepts are patently absurd, and at their base they're essentially an evil con game. Strunk's "In Your Face" confrontations with David are tense intellectual, theological, and philosophical battles of will that are absolutely riveting. Mancuso and Thompson give each other as good as they get from beginning to end.

The finished product here is at the same time chilling, disturbing and inspiring... and it provides an unsettling cautionary message for us all.

Scariest moment in the film: Mancuso in a 'prayer meeting', thrusting his arms upward, shouting and staring with blank rage. You may even see some parallels in today's world in that scene.

Memorable Quotes from
Ticket to Heaven (1981)
David: Why are you always wrapping yourself up in numbers like this?
Karl: So you can come and tell me what a crock it is?
Dr. Dwyer: Jesus was never meant to die. He failed.
Eric: First rule, man: don't fuckin' co-operate.
Eric: Man, I ain't seen anybody regurgitate like that since the bicentennial celebrations.
Harry: My God, it must be something they put in the food.
Eric: No, man, it's what they *don't* put in it, protein. That, and all that chantin' and jumpin' and spacin' out. After awhile, your wiring blows. Women stop gettin' their periods. Guys get cheeks as smooth as the inside o' Sarah Elizabeth Murphy's left thigh.
Larry: I love you, and Sarah. As individuals. Together, you're a mess.

Awards: 4 wins & 10 nominations

Directed by
Ralph L. Thomas

Writing credits
Anne Cameron
Josh Freed (novel)

Runtime: 108 min
Country: Canada
Language: English
Color: Color
Sound Mix: Mono
Certification: USA:PG

Reader's comments on this article

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from TP
Monday, May 01, 2006 - 18:32


Where could we find these movies? They're so obscure that I'm having trouble finding them anywhere. They do sound interesting though.

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