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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.


John Schlesinger


Mark Frost (screenplay), Nicholas Conde (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »




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


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


They exist. Fear them. See more »


16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

26 November 1987 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Ritual See more »


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

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

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One studio executive suggested having the Beastie Boys perform on the soundtrack. See more »


When Cal is at the hardware store trying to find the author to the Santeria book, the guy that refuses to talk to him turns off the lights and immediately disappears, despite the fact that there is still enough light that you should have seen him there or at least walking out of frame. See more »


Tom Lopez: They know who I am!
Cal Jamison: Who are they, Tom?
Tom Lopez: Oh no no no no. How do I know about you?
Cal Jamison: Alright, I understand. You don't have any reason to trust me yet. But you don't have any reason to distrust me, do you?
Tom Lopez: The spirits help them. They walk through walls. Don't forget that.
Cal Jamison: I wont. And they can see us in here right now, is that it?
Tom Lopez: [freaks out]
Cal Jamison: What is it? Easy...
Tom Lopez: They knew that I was onto them. I walked in, and they were waiting for me.
Cal Jamison: Can you identify them?
See more »


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

voodoo doo-doo
26 September 2001 | by secretronSee all my reviews

In all fairness, I went into seeing The Believers with a glimmer of hope. A fervent horror fan, I looked forward to seeing a rare intellectual thriller. All the pieces were in place - a good cast (led by a usually stellar Martin Sheen), a renowned director (John Schlesinger) & the story of a police psychologist trying to pick up the pieces after his wife's premature & accidental death who gets involved, along with his son, in some occultish freakishness.

So where did The Believers go wrong? About halfway through, when Sheen's lonely Dad inexplicably & unbelievably takes up with the loopy landlady across the street (Helen Shaver). Not only is this an unwanted distraction to the plot, but the relationship moves WAY too quickly to be taken seriously in a 2-hour horror movie.

There are some scary moments, one coming within the first 5 minutes of the film, but the film loses its momentum as the discovery of what all this voodoo madness is all about unfolds. Like The Serpent & The Rainbow, logic & reason effortlessly give way to dark idols & poisoned dart silliness. The film's ominous conclusion tries too hard & becomes almost laughable.

Sheen is solid, but spends more than half the movie screaming at, to or for his son (another never-to-be-seen-again child actor who is 10 times more annoying than cute, making you wish that the bad guys eat him up before Martin starts filming Wall Street). Shaver sleepwalks through her thankless role, tho she's involved in one of the film's creepiest moments. A good supporting cast, including Robert Loggia, Richard Masur & a young Jimmy Smits are wasted.

Ultimately, The Believers is ambitious, but this voodoo doo-doo doesn't give you much to believe. 5 out of 10.

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