Harold (Sammy Williams), the sniper, seems a nice enough fellow, as he informs New York police detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) Gold Told Me To (1976) before making a tremendous leap from the water tower.
Peter's a product of the Catholic school system, the sort of Italian cop who might as easily have become a priest. He has separated from his wife (Sandy Dennis) to live with a younger woman (Deborah Raffin), who doesn't realize it's not his wife fighting a divorce, but his own Catholic guilt.
Meanwhile there's another nice enough seeming fellow claiming inspiration from God, knifing people in a supermarket. Soon after, an anonymous phone call to the police informs them the next man instructed by God will be a uniform officer, divinely inspired to open fire during the St. Patty's Day Parade.
Protective measures are taken, but the parade is chock full of cops in dress uniforms. The one who goes crazy (Andy Kaufman!) is soon taken down by fellow cops, & whispers as he fades from this world, "Gold told me to."
Each of the killers was reported to have been seen with a young man, barefoot, long blonde hair, hippy-type, but none of the witnesses could quite remember the face. Our Catholic cop tracks down this mysteriouis personage, & discovers his own weird affinity for the self-proclaimed God with mesmeric powers over mortals.
He's Bernard Phillips, born by Caesarean section, a hermaphrodite raised by his virgin mother. Peter is freaking out about the God connection & the modern-day equivalent of a virgin birth. But the investigation takes him down still stranger corridors as it becomes increasingly evident that Bernard's mother had been impregnated by means of artificial insemination by an extraterrestrial.
Bernard has been been using telephathic powers to influence a cartel of industrialists & politicians who're convinced he's who he claims to be, or at least too powerful to resist. Pete finds himself pressured by these powerful men to stop investigating Bernard, & to join their clique, as one of His apostles.
In a heated basement, when Peter finally comes face to face with Bernard, Peter discovers a pail, frail hermaphrodite who can't stand a chill; who dresses like Jesus & shines like an angelic being; but who in fact has a demonic nature.
And from this horrible being, Peter learns that he too is of extraterrestrial origin, only the artificial insemination of his mother had led to a more perfect birth so that he can pass for entirely human even to himself.
In a Harlem blaxspoitation sequence (director Larry Cohen did also film blaxsploitation), Pete tests for the first time his ability to play God. But he must resist this temptation & not collude with Bernard, who seems to believe they should mate, so that Bernard's "vagina" (a Christ's wound in his side) can be the gate of a new master race.
What occurs instead is a bit of an angel versus the devil sorcery. The climactic encounter with the horndog hermaphrodite is more demented than it is scary, as the alien's creepy attempt at seduction devolves into a fag-bashing scene of supernatural horror & destruction.
Probably because the title could offend the religious, Gold Told Me To has als obeen known simply as Demon. It is an amazingly original, bizarre film, & might've been more so if Bernard had been cast to be the least bit attractive. For many it will be quite disturbing, not because it rubs up against religion, but because Bernard embodies male fear of homosexuals & fear of the vagina in a single character.
As played by Richard Lynch, a specialist in psycho villains due to his scarred complexion, it's hard to believe anyone mistook him for Jesus or even a young man, rather than the devil in a moo-moo. But it's all played with such poker-faced severity that it works even with the debatable casting of the "demon."
As for Tony Lo Bianco, he's a fine actor in this. It is a little sad his almost-career never really took him higher than the mid-range of success. Gold Told Me To gave him the best role he ever had. But he so little realized it at the time that he gave director Larry Cohen a hard time not showing up in a timely way, needing body doubles to stand in during his absenses, & refusing to return for some clean-up shots & finish-ups later on.
Doubtless he thought he was "only" in a cheezy horror film that few would see, without the least comprehension that this could be a classic, let alone his best role for life. Though perhaps he treated all directors & producers with the too-important-for-you 'tude, & that's why greater success never shook hands with Tony. He's still acting, still pretty much typecast as a police detective when not a mafioso, & pretty much under the radar for anyone's favorite actor. God Told Me To hints at greater star potential, but just being employed had to do.
When Michael Moriarity had an opportunity of a starring roles in Cohen's other genuinely great horror film Q -- The Winged Serpent (1982), he gave it his all, & it is one of Michael's great performances among many good roles that blessed his career.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl