Winner of the 1982 Genie for Best Picture (the Canadian version of the Oscar), this is one lean, fierce, terrifying journey down the cult indoctrination rabbit hole, and back out the other side. Get ready to be exhilarated by this razor-sharp tale: Ticket To Heaven’s thinly fictionalized menacing cult on display is clearly patterned on the “Moonies” (Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church), and the film wastes zero time diving right into the techniques used to ensnare a wayward twentysomething (Nick Mancuso) into the flock: sleep deprivation, crazed chanting and a general grinding of the psychological gears, until he’s a gaunt, ghostly shell of his former self. No soapy melodrama, Ticket To Heaven is an unending cascade of captivating (and often humorous) episodic moments, right up until its haunting final shot — and its eccentric supporting cast, featuring Meg Foster as an ice cold cult den mother and Kim Cattrall as a hyper-overzealous Moonie camp counselor from hell, is rife with genuinely hair-raising portraits. Director Ralph Thomas and producer Vivienne Leebosh in person!
Dir. Ralph L. Thomas, 1981, digital presentation, 109 min.

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