WriterJosh Freed, Anne Cameron Release dateSeptember 10, 1981 (1981-09-10) (TIFF)
October 9, 1981 (1981-10-09) (U.S.) Music directorMicky Erbe, Maribeth Solomon CastNick Mancuso (David), Saul Rubinek (Larry), Meg Foster (Ingrid), Kim Cattrall (Ruthie), R.H. Thomson (Linc Strunc) Similar moviesThe Master, Last Breath, Crash, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Repo Man, Martha Marcy May Marlene
TaglineBecoming one of them is your Ticket to Heaven
Ticket to heaven 1981
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.
Ticket to heaven 1981 movie about religious brainwashing
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.
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.
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 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 :