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.|
|Distributed by||Bryanston Distributing Company|
The Devil's Rain is a 1975 American horror film directed by Robert Fuest. It was one of several B-films in which William Shatner starred between the original Star Trek television series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Other cast members included Tom Skerritt, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, Keenan Wynn and John Travolta in his film debut in a minor role. Satanist Anton LaVey is credited as the film's technical advisor and appeared in the film playing a minor role.
A curse affects the Preston family, caused by their betrayal of the Satanic priest Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine). Corbis has harassed the Preston family for generations to obtain a Satanic book of great power. Corbis captures patriarch Steve Preston, who is allowed to escape to warn his wife and younger son about Corbis' wrath. He tells them to give the book to Corbis, but during a rainstorm he melts into a waxy substance.
Mark Preston (Shatner) takes the book, hoping to meet with Corbis and defeat him. In a ghost town in the desert, Corbis gives Preston a drink of water from an old hand-pumped well. Preston drinks but then spits out the bitter water. He challenges Corbis to a battle of faith, then draws a pistol and aims it at him. Corbis belittles this threat and Preston tries to escape, but he is surrounded by Corbis' followers. He produces a cross, but Corbis transforms it into a snake and Preston discards it. Corbis' followers capture Preston, and Corbis uses a ritual to erase Preston's memory in preparation for a ceremony later that evening.
Mark's older brother, Tom (Tom Skerritt), and his wife, Julie, search for Mark. They are accompanied by Dr. Sam Richards (Albert), a psychic researcher. Their search leads them to Corbis' church, where Corbis is performing a ceremony to convert Mark into one of his soulless minions; during the proceedings Corbis transforms into a Satanic goat-like being. Tom witnesses all of this; he is discovered by the Satanists but eludes capture. Later he and Richards meet at the Satanic church, where they discover that the source of Corbis' power is an ornate glass bottle known as "The Devil's Rain", which contains the souls of Corbis' disciples.
Corbis and the Satanists converge on the church. Richards threatens to destroy The Devil's Rain, but he is overpowered by the acolytes. He appeals to Mark's lost humanity and convinces him to destroy the bottle, which he does in defiance of Corbis' entreaties. A storm rages outside, and the Satanists melt in the rain. Tom and his wife make a hasty exit. As Tom holds his wife, it is revealed that he is actually embracing Corbis, 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 ironically 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". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- 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.