Picks and Pans Review: Ticket to Heaven

updated 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church newspaper damned this movie as "a truly Archie Bunkeresque view of the phenomena of religious conversion," and it's easy to see why it would make cultists nervous. Canadian actor Nick Mancuso plays a young man getting over a broken romance who flies from Toronto to San Francisco to visit a friend. There he is sucked into a Moonie-like group. Though the film is based on John Freed's 1980 book Moonwebs, about the Unification Church, this group is called the Heavenly Children. The young man's psychological defenses are quickly broken down, and he becomes a hollow-eyed, wasted member of the cult. Mancuso's transformation is startling—in one scene, having briefly escaped, he desperately wolfs down a forbidden hamburger and milkshake and then, out of guilt, induces vomiting to rid himself of the offending food. Equally good is Saul Rubinek, as a concerned friend who tries to rescue Mancuso. The most chilling sequences involve R.H. Thomson as a tall, sometimes brutal deprogrammer who locks Mancuso in a "safe house." Though sometimes didactic and clichéd, this first feature by Canadian director Ralph Thomas has a raw power that makes it work as both message and drama. (PG)

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