Ticket to Heaven
|Ticket to Heaven|
|Directed by||Ralph L. Thomas|
|Produced by||Alan Simmonds
|Written by||Josh Freed
Ralph L. Thomas
|Music by||Micky Erbe
|Edited by||Ron Wisman|
|Distributed by||Miracle Films Ltd (Canada), United Artists (USA and other nations)|
|Running time||109 minutes|
Ticket to Heaven is a 1981 Canadian film about the recruiting of a man into a group portrayed to be a cult, and his life in the group until forcibly extracted by his family and friends. The film was directed by Ralph L. Thomas. It was released on DVD on June 20, 1998.
David Kappel (Nick Mancuso), a twentysomething school teacher, visits a training camp for a religious cult. At the camp everything is done in groups, along with much singing. There is also a low-calorie, low-protein diet; sleep deprivation; constant positive reinforcement; and chanting of slogans.
All of the elements of the camp begin to have an effect on David mentally. He graduates and is put to work as a volunteer laborer for the cult. In an especially powerful scene he vomits up a hamburger and malted which he had just eaten in violation of cult dietary guidelines.
David sets out to work, led by cult leader Patrick (Robert Joy). David is shocked when Patrick lies to a customer but Patrick explains that they are only "using Satan's methods to do God's work", and that it is okay because "it's only Satan's money we're taking."
David's best friend Larry (Saul Rubinek) and his parents, Morely (Paul Soles) and Esther (Marcia Diamond), are concerned about him. Larry visits the cult's camp and almost falls under their influence. He escapes and returns home.
David's parents, Larry, and some other friends enlist the aid of a deprogrammer, Linc Strunc (R.H. Thomson), and arrange for his kidnapping. David is isolated and after some struggle is convinced of the cult's dishonesty and mistreatment. He is confused and when he asks of "true love", he only needs to look around him: at Larry, Danny, Sarah, his parents, and everything they've done for him, and still are enduring for him. Crying, he embraces them all. Everyone reunites and embraces outside Mrs. Foster's house.
The film is based on the non-fiction book Moonwebs: Journey into the Mind of a Cult by Josh Freed, which describes Freed and his friend (whom he calls 'Benji Miller') and their negative experiences with the Unification Church of the United States. When Benji's friends finally found him, he had become a frail figure who sold flowers in the street. Freed tried to understand what had happened to his friend, and went through the first stages of Unification Church indoctrination himself, then organized an attempt to kidnap and deprogram his friend. The attempt was led by Benji's parents, who were subsequently arrested for their involvement.
The film was selected as one of the top ten films of 1981 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars, but added that the ending was less interesting and powerful than the cult indoctrination scenes which came before.
Awards and nominations
Ticket to Heaven was nominated for fourteen 1982 Genie Awards, and won four :
- Staff. "Box office business for Ticket to Heaven (1981)". IMDB. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
- Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1981). "Ticket to Heaven, Review". Chicago Sun-Times (rogerebert.suntimes.com). Retrieved 2007-11-23.
- Maslin, Janet (November 13, 1981). "'Ticket to Heaven,' A Sleeper About Cults". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- Ticket to Heaven at AllMovie
- Ticket to Heaven at the Internet Movie Database
- Ticket to Heaven at Rotten Tomatoes