Ticket to Heaven

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Ticket to Heaven
Ticket to Heaven.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Ralph L. Thomas
Produced by Alan Simmonds
Vivienne Leebosh
Ronald Cohen
Written by Josh Freed
Anne Cameron
Ralph L. Thomas
Starring Nick Mancuso
Saul Rubinek
Meg Foster
Kim Cattrall
Christopher Britton
Music by Micky Erbe
Maribeth Solomon
Cinematography Richard Leiterman
Edited by Ron Wisman
Distributed by Miracle Films Ltd (Canada), United Artists (USA and other nations)
Release date
Running time
109 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget C$4,500,000[1]

Ticket to Heaven is a 1981 Canadian drama 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 based on the nonfiction book Moonwebs by Josh Freed and was directed by Ralph L. Thomas. It was released on DVD on June 20, 1998.


Following a contentious breakup, 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.[2]

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 milkshake which he had just eaten in violation of cult dietary guidelines.[3]

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."[3]

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 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.[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Ticket to Heaven was nominated for fourteen 1982 Genie Awards, and won four :

Year Award Category Winner/Nominee Result
1982 Genie Awards
Best Motion Picture Ronald I. Cohen, Vivienne Leebosh Won
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Nick Mancuso Won
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Saul Rubinek Won
Best Achievement in Film Editing Ron Wisman Won
Best Achievement in Direction Ralph L. Thomas Nominated
Best Achievement in Music Score Micky Erbe, Maribeth Solomon Nominated
Best Achievement in Overall Sound Marc Chiasson, Bruce Carwardine, Glen Gauthier Nominated
Best Achievement in Sound Editing Marc Chiasson, Glen Gauthier, Don White, David Appleby, Bruce Carwardine Nominated
Best Performance by a Foreign Actor Guy Boyd Nominated
Best Performance by a Foreign Actress Meg Foster Nominated
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role R.H. Thomson Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Kim Cattrall Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Dixie Seatle Nominated
Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium Ralph L. Thomas, Anne Cameron Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff. "Box office business for Ticket to Heaven (1981)". IMDB. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  2. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1981). "Ticket to Heaven, Review". Chicago Sun-Times. rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  3. ^ a b 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. 

External links[edit]