The Devil's Rain
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|The Devil's Rain|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Fuest|
|Produced by||James V. Cullen
Michael S. Glick
|Written by||James Ashton
|Music by||Al De Lory|
|Cinematography||Alex Phillips Jr.|
|Studio||Sandy Howard Productions|
|Distributed by||Bryanston Distributing Company|
|Release dates||August 12, 1975 (U.S. release)|
|Running time||86 min.|
The Devil's Rain is a 1975 low-budget horror film, directed by Robert Fuest. It was one of several B-films in which William Shatner starred in between the original Star Trek television series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Other familiar names in the cast included Tom Skerritt, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, and Keenan Wynn. John Travolta also appeared in an early minor role. This was his film debut. Satanist Anton LaVey is credited as the movie's technical advisor, and appeared in the film playing a minor role.
A curse hovers over the Preston family, caused by their betrayal of the Satanic priest Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine). Corbis has followed the Preston family for generations, in pursuit of a Satanic book through which he obtains great power. Corbis first captures the father, Steve Preston, who is allowed to escape home to warn his wife and younger son about Corbis's wrath, and to tell them to give the book to Corbis; at which point Steve Preston then melts into a waxy substance, apparently melting in the rain.
Mark Preston (Shatner) takes the book, hoping to meet with Corbis and defeat him. The two eventually meet in a ghost town in the desert, where Corbis gives Preston a drink of water from an old hand-pumped well; Preston drinks and then spits it out, proclaiming the water to be bitter. Corbis smiles and replies, "Sweet way to end a thirst, though."
Following that, Preston challenges Corbis to a battle of faith, which ends with Preston pulling a 1911 .45 pistol on Corbis. Corbis asks, "Is THAT your faith?" at which point Preston tries to escape. Surrounded by satanists, Preston pulls out his cross, which then appears to transform into a snake, and he discards. He is promptly captured by the Satanic followers of Corbis. Corbis later begins a ceremony which wipes Mark's memory clean with the "water of forgetfulness" in preparation for a ceremony later that evening.
Meanwhile Preston's older brother, Tom (Tom Skerritt), and his wife Julie, have gone to look for Mark; they are accompanied by Dr. Sam Richards (Albert), a psychic researcher. Tom witnesses his brother's total conversion to a Satanic puppet in a ceremony in which Corbis is so completely taken over by the devil that he transforms into a goat-like being. Tom is discovered but escapes the Satanists, and later meets up with Richards at the Satanic church, where they discover the source of Corbis's power—a porcelain container known as The Devil's Rain, which contains the souls of Corbis's converts.
Corbis and the Satanists then arrive at the church, and Richards threatens to destroy the Devil's Rain but is over-powered by the acolytes. He then appeals to Mark's lost humanity and convinces him to destroy the container, which he does, despite Corbis' entreaties.
The Satanists melt in the rain as a storm rages as Tom and his wife make a hasty exit. As Tom holds his wife, the audience discovers that it is actually Corbis he is embracing and his wife's soul has become trapped within a new Devil's Rain.
- Ernest Borgnine as Jonathan Corbis
- Eddie Albert as Dr. Sam Richards
- William Shatner as Mark Preston
- Ida Lupino as Emma Preston
- Tom Skerritt as Tom Preston
- Joan Prather as Julie Preston
- Keenan Wynn as Sheriff Owens
- John Travolta as Danny
- George Sawaya as Steve Preston
- Anton LaVey as High Priest of the Church of Satan
- Woodrow Chambliss as John
The Devil's Rain received a uniformly negative critical response, with the chief complaint being the incoherent storyline. The film's refusal to provide adequate scares was also widely criticized. Vincent Canby in the New York Times noted that "The Devil's Rain is ostensibly a horror film, but it barely manages to be a horror...It is as horrible as watching an egg fry." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times said "All of this would be good silly fun if the movie weren't so painfully dull. The problem is that the material's stretched too thin. There's not enough here to fill a feature-length film." He gave the film 1½ stars out of four.
The movie's disastrous reception arguably killed off director Fuest's career. Fuest had previously directed The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), and The Final Programme (1973). The Devil's Rain suffered such a critical drubbing that Fuest immediately was forced to retreat to television, directing several nondescript TV-movies and series episodes over the years. He has made only one additional theatrical feature, Aphrodite (1982), a softcore sex romp shot in Greece.
In his 2010 book Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies, Australian film reviewer Michael Adams called The Devil's Rain "the ultimate cult movie": "It's about a cult, has a cult following, was devised with input from a cult leader, and saw a future superstar indoctrinated into a cult he'd help popularize."
- Canby, Vincent (August 8, 1975). "Film: The Devil's Rain" (Subscription required). The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (August 15, 1975). "Review of The Devil's Rain". rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun-Times (Sun-Times Media Group). Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Adams, Michael (January 2010). "That's Travolting!". Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies. !t Books (HarperCollins). p. 107. ISBN 978-0-06-180629-2.