The Devil’s Rain
Director: Robert Fuest
Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, William Shatner
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
The 70s were a great time for Satanic cinema. It was coming out of the very walls, setting the scene for the very real (as in how many people believed it) and very ridiculous (as in it was all BS) Satanic Panic that would follow in the 80s. One movie that people have seemed to forget is 1975’s The Devil’s Rain, and I don’t know how that could have happened. Starring Eddie (Green Acres) Albert, William (Star Trek) Shatner, Tom (Alien) Skeritt, and Ernest Borgnine, who’s easily been in a hundred and one films, it’s hard to believe it’s been lost in time. Well, good on Severin Films for digging it up and putting it out as a gorgeous-looking Blu-ray, but is it worth a get? Well, read on and don’t forget to bring an umbrella.
A family living out in the desert is cursed because they once belonged to a Satanic Cult. They left the cult a long time back and took with them the cult’s big book of black magic. Three hundred years later the cult leader, Corbis, played by Ernest Borgnine, is out for revenge and wanting the book back. Shatter and Skeritt are brothers in the cursed clan, Eddei Albert is an occult expert, and nearly everyone else is an eyeless, soulless Satanist. The souls of those eyeless folks are kept in a sacred urn called “The Devil’s Rain.” Why is it called that? I don’t know, but at the end of the film the urn is broken, it starts raining, and the one thing anyone ever remembers about this movie happens. I’m not going to say what that is, but it is awesome.
The movie is over-the-top cheesy fun. One of its claims to fame was having the head of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey, as a technical advisor to make sure all the rituals were “authentic.” If this is what Satanists really get up to behind closed doors, I don’t see what all the fuss was about back in the 80s. The other claim to fame is the special effects during the climax. Even now they look pretty good, but when you stop to consider the movie’s budget and when this film was made, they are spectacular. The last part of the trifecta of awesome is Ernest Borgnine who hams it up, chews through all the scenery, and generally has a ball playing lead Satanist. He even gets all goat-faced and it’s a straight-up mix of corny and cool. The film even has a big ass explosion at the end. What more could you want?
Let’s get to those sinfully good extras Severin Films gave us for this new Blu-ray. First there is an audio commentary track with director Robert Fuest. There is an interview with actor Tom Skeritt that’s 11 minutes long. Another interview with special make-up effects artist Tom Burman that runs just over five minutes. There’s an archival interview from 1975 with William Shatner (I guess he’s too busy today to do it? Yeah right.) that’s nearly four minutes. There’s yet another interview, this one with script supervisor Ana Maria Quintana that is close to 15 minutes. For fun there is an interview with a real-life priest and priestess of the Church of Satan that runs 10 minutes, talking about noted Satanist LaVey’s connection to the film. For more of that there is an interview with Anton LaVey’s biographer, Blanche Barton, that is eight minutes long. The last interview is with filmmaker/collector Daniel Roebuck that runs 10 and a half minutes. There’s a collection of old on-set Polaroids that plays over classic radio spots, a theatrical trailer, TV spots, and a poster and still gallery.
The Devil’s Rain is a product of its time and I love it for that. It’s not a serious Satanic movie, but it is a lot of fun. It’s a goofy movie played straight with good direction by the man that gave us the Vincent Price Phibes films, another love of mine, and solid acting even though most of the actors involved felt this movie was beneath them. If you are a fan of devil movies, 70s schlock, or a rabid horror historian, consider picking this one up. If you are all three of those things, like me, than this is a must-have. Therefore, consider this one well recommended.