6.1/10
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44 user 56 critic

The Believers (1987)

A New York psychiatrist finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Mark Frost (screenplay), Nicholas Conde (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Cal Jamison
Helen Shaver ... Jessica Halliday
Harley Cross ... Chris Jamison
Robert Loggia ... Lt. Sean McTaggert
Elizabeth Wilson ... Kate Maslow
Harris Yulin ... Robert Calder
Lee Richardson ... Dennis Maslow
Richard Masur ... Marty Wertheimer
Carla Pinza Carla Pinza ... Carmen Ruiz
Jimmy Smits ... Tom Lopez
Raúl Dávila Raúl Dávila ... Oscar Sezine
Malick Bowens ... Palo
Janet-Laine Green ... Lisa Jamison
Larry Ramos Larry Ramos ... Diner Counterman
Philip Corey Philip Corey ... Calder's Assistant
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Storyline

After the death of his wife, police psychiatrist Cal Jamison moves to New York. There he has to help in the investigation of the murder of two youths, who seem to have been immolated during a cult ritual. Jamison believes it's been Voodoo and, ignoring the warnings of his housekeeper, enters the scenery and soon gets under their influence. They try to get him to sacrifice his own son. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They exist. Fear them. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Ritual See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,342,732, 14 June 1987, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$18,753,438
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The address shown on Lt. McTaggert's (Robert Loggia) business card is 220 E. 113th St New York, NY 10001. The phone number is 212-557-7081 See more »

Goofs

(at around 42 mins) When the second body is discovered, you can see him clearly breathing while the investigators are photographing. See more »

Quotes

Customs agent: [Arriving at the airport] Open this please?
[first lines]
Palo: Just personel items... no need to look in there
[Palo stares deep into the man's eyes]
Customs agent: [Now in a trance like state] All-Right.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: Head Case (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

La Finquita
Performed by Conj. Quisqueya
Courtesy of Latin American Music Co. Inc./A.C.E.M.L.A.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Realistic and truly scary.
22 February 2006 | by spacemonkey_fgSee all my reviews

Title: The Believers (1987)

Director: John Schlesinger

Cast: Martin Sheen, Jimmy Smitts, Robert Loggia

Review: I've always been intrigued by movies about Voodo, Santeria and Witchcraft. I could go on and on about how part of my early childhood was spent in that religion and what not. But I'm not going to. Its something I like to leave safely tucked away in my past. Anyhows, this film, The Believers, depicts a couple of Santeria/Voodoo rituals that felt very, very genuine. I always keep a keen eye open to see just how truthful films can get...to see if the filmmakers did their homework right or not. Well, in the case of The Believers Id say they did their homework alright and got a straight freaking A man.

The Believers is about a police psychologist called Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen). He is trying to cope with his wives recent death and trying to continue on with a normal life. When he suddenly realizes that his son has been targeted by practitioners of "Brujeria" or witchcraft. They need his son to perform one of their rituals. Of course he opposes and goes on a terrifying journey to try and stop them.

What I found chilling about this film is its faithfulness to the whole Santeria thing. Having a background in this I could tell what was real and what was Hollywood Hocus Pocus bullshit, and let me tell you 90% of this film was highly accurate as to some of the rituals.

Heres the thing about this type of movie. It can very easily turn into an unrealistic film that simply exploits the religion and uses its mythology to scare people who know nothing about it. But in the case of The Believers, they made a very good effort to demonstrate that Santeria is just another religion. Its people who believe in different things that the rest of the world don't believe in. And it doesn't have to be evil simply because its different.

Of course, like everything, there's a dark side to the whole thing and in this movie its called "Brujeria" or Witchcraft. As it is explained in the film, its a form of Voodoo that is used for evil purposes and that its rituals involve amongst other things the sacrifice of children. The people in the film at first think that the ones committing the murders are people who belong to Santeria...when in fact they don't. So I liked the fact that the movie didn't stoop to the low point of exploiting the beliefs of people who practice Santeria.

The movie is frightening, because it feels real. These religions and the people who believe in them are out there. They exist. And the ignorance about their beliefs instantly translates to fear amongst people who know nothing about it. Of course the movie does take advantage of peoples ignorance about it and uses it to make people think one thing...when in fact its another. But I have say, the movie will prove to be quite frightening. It has some genuinely tense moments in there.

Jimmy Smitts, an unknown at the time, steals the show as Tom Lopez. A local who is frightened that "they" will get him. "They" know who he is and "You don't know what they can do!" Those sequences with Smitts going loco are excellent and will heighten any bit of fear that was already crawling up through the back of your spine. Also there's an evil Priest character played by Malik Bowens that is 100% concentrated evil. A memorable scene involves his eyes changing color and starting to dance as he is possessed by a spirit. So you can rest assured that we get some good solid performances in this flick.

In conclusion I'll say that this movie is scary in the same way that The Exorcist was scary. In the same way that Angel Heart and Serpent and the Rainbow were scary. Its all tied up to something that exists in real life. Of course the film, as is the case in almost all of these films dealing with Voodoo or Santeria, ventures into fantasy territory. But Ill say this, The Believers is the one that feels the most genuine out of all the movies dealing with this subject matter. So its worth a look see. Only if you want to be really scared of course.

Rating: 5 out of 5


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