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Ticket to Heaven (1981)

Nick Mancuso , Saul Rubinek , Ralph L. Thomas  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Price: $57.50
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Product Details

  • Actors: Nick Mancuso, Saul Rubinek, Kim Cattrall
  • Directors: Ralph L. Thomas
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2007
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,003 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ticket to Heaven" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


"...An Absorbing, Frightening, Entirely Believable Movie..." --The New York Times

"Nick Mancuso's four-barreled evocation of David shines..." --All Movie Guide

"...the single best movie ever made about cults." --Film Fanatic

Product Description


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eerie deja vu November 22, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In the late 70's I got caught up in the Moonie cult for a time in Northern California. This is a very accurate portrayal of the moonies of that time and place, right down to the rickety converted chicken coop they had their talks in, the cult member who follows you everwhere, the "choo choo yay pow" cheer. (Yes they really did use that!) The enforced conformity, The famous dodge ball game with chanting. Deadly accurate.

Though the material is dated, and the ranch in the countryside where The moonies brought recruits is long since shut down, it's still a great film to watch...and to show your kids if you want to help them learn to avoid being sucked into cults of many kinds.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, deserves to be better known.... April 17, 2006
This film is very difficult to find on VHS and/or DVD. I saw it in a DVD store for 10 bucks a few years ago, so I picked it up. The film is a terrifying, intense, very realistic one, depicting with great accuracy the truth about cults. Nick Manusco gives an excellent performance as David, the young man who gets caught up in the cult. He has just broken up with his girlfriend, and decides to visit a friend of his in southern California. David doesn't know that his friend is in a cult. They program David through various methods, including lack of sleep, moving around and around without reason, lack of protein in the food they eat, isolation, and fellow cult members following him around at all times. Saul Rubinek plays his friend who finds out where he is, and helps get him out with a deprogrammer. The film isn't perfect. There are noticable continuity flubs, awkward edits, misplaced comic relief (even though the sign "it's always amateur night" in the comedy club is hilarious), but these are minor compared with the intensity and accuracy of the film. This film was made in Canada (when Canadian film production was at a nadir), and it's a lot more realistic than a Hollywood film would be about the same subject. There are excellent performances all around (check out a very young Kim Catrall as Debbie, a cult member who is scary in her loyalty to "Father"). Hopefully, somebody will reissue this film....
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gutsy expose on how religious cults work December 4, 2005
You have to hand it to the Canadians for having the guts to make such a true-to-life movie about cults: how they recruit, how they brainwash, how they make money. A little more contrast between the blind euphoria of the lower-tier cultists and the opulent, materialistic ways of the upper echelon would have been nice. And the movie was obviously made on a shoestring budget, which no doubt is hard to accept for someone raised on Hollywood production values. But Hollywood would NEVER make a film like this -- not with all the cultists running around in Tinsel Town! They'd boycott the production. Solid performances are turned in by Nick Mancuso as the "lost soul," Saul Rubinek as the friend who won't give up on him, Kim Cattrall as a bundle-of-energy cultist (actually one of the scariest characters in the film), and R. H. Thomson as the deprogrammer. If you can get past the made-for-TV-movie feel, this film is an excellent way to teach your kids about how cults operate and what they're really all about: money.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserving a remastered DVD release May 2, 2006
TICKET TO HEAVEN is a most effective film, one that flew through theaters far too quickly on its initial run (thanks for the tip, Siskel & Ebert), shedding light on any number of obsessions. The focus is on a religious cult, but could as easily center around any pursuit where, with all the attractive chaff winnowed away, the end aim is making money for the top dogs or ideals. Where membership comes with a strident urging to include friends and relations.

As Linc Strunc (R.H. Thomson's extraordinary performance in a Genie-winning role) says, "It's the smart ones" who prove the most difficult to deprogram.

Nick Mancuso's David is intelligent, but he lacks what many are missing: Close human contact, permission to touch someone without fear or evoking sexual connotations. For many, that's like the difference between hugging your parents as a child, and the wall that goes up when you must "be a man" or "put away childish things".

The tools used to unhinge David's rationale are Legion: Beauty, peace, and belonging held up as within-reach (but cunningly and perpetually unattainable) goals. Simple messages that snowball. Inquisitiveness and discussion trampled as selfish distractions, with some subtle belittling. Repetition to instill new habits, relentlessly grinding in new beliefs. And then there's the food, and toying with body chemistry -- good science abused by clever minds.

A fine, memorable ensemble cast, from Guy Boyd's Eric, to Robert Joy's Patrick, to Timothy Webber's Greg, right down to Michael Wincott (THE CROW) in a minor role. Many of Canada's very best performers.

Saul Rubinek, who played nearly the same character in AGAINST ALL ODDS, goes to the other end of the scale here, however.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring in the Money, Stay Awake, Smash Out Satan!! March 25, 2005
Best film on religious cults yet!. Actually, this was the first of 3 films I have viewed on mind controlling religious cults. All three of the films were made in the early 80's a time when religious cults were at a high rise. Seen selling flowers in large city streets and airports.

Ticket to Heaven not only explains how someone of high intelligence can become involved in a cult. It makes it believable, unlike " BLINDED BY THE LIGHT"starring Kristy McNichol and real life brother Jimmy McNichol and "SPLIT IMAGE" starring Michael O'Keefer and Peter Fonda. Which if you haven't seen "Ticket to Heaven " before viewing these other films, would leave you with the feeling that only the weak minded, or troubled souls could be brainwashed into this way of life.

The deprogramming method of the cult victim David played by Nick Mancuso is brilliantly and intensely done by R. H. Thomson ( role Link Strunk) . Also to be credited for adding some comedy to the film is Saul Rubinek who plays David's best friend Larry.

(Excuse the pun) A true Cult Classic!! You will not be disappointed !
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Want to Understand the Depths of Mind Control...
...this is the movie to nearly perfectly bring it into sharp focus. A thinly veiled exposé of the Moonies (you know, ISKCON, Rev. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Renée
5.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a Spiritual Kidnapping
Although this is not a true story, I used to have a client who at one time fell into the clutches of a cult from this era (the 80s), and he stated that this film is dead on... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Everyone's_a_critic
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard movie to find
This movie is a gem. I remember seeing it in the 80's. I enjoyed it and could not fathom why it never attained some degree of popularity. I suppose it was dated. Read more
Published 13 months ago by John Farina
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accurate account of a cult I was an actual member of!
Trust me when I tell you that this film is true. It is dead-on accurate down to every last detail, including the locations chosen for shooting, the method in which the characters... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Quadro Sinead Summer
5.0 out of 5 stars Oldie but goodie!
Ticket to Heaven
This is a very good movie about the psychology of brainwashing and cults. Mancuso gives an EXCELLENT and believable performance, and Kim Cattrall just ropes... Read more
Published on January 22, 2009 by SusieQNY
5.0 out of 5 stars Chillingly accurate
I still get chills whenever I watch this. In 1976, I spent a week in Boonville on the Moonie farm that is portrayed in this movie. Read more
Published on December 15, 2008 by D. E. Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars "Nananananananana leader, leader, leader!"
This is an excellent dramatization of how an ordinary man (an atheist Jew no less!) fell under the influence of a religious cult- modeled on the Moonies- and how he was eventually... Read more
Published on January 17, 2008 by J. Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing Tale
What an amazing movie! Ticket to Heaven takes us on a bumpy ride through cult hell. David, played by Nick Mancuso, is, after a failed romance, primed for being sucked into a... Read more
Published on January 8, 2000 by Russell J. Sanders
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