Review of “The Devil’s Rain” (1975)

trailer from YouTube. The warning is for scary/gory scenes. No sex. Sorry to disappoint,

This is this week’s Saturday night pizza and bad movie offering. And, oh, brother, was this puppy a stinker.

Plot:

The opening credits roll over various shots of the weirder scenes from Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych altarpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Bosch even gets a mention in those credits.

The viewer is treated to a glimpse of a gruesome crucifix and the sounds of thunder. Mrs. Preston (Ida Lupino) looks out a window into the pouring rain, worry on her face. Son Mark (William Shatner) arrives with a damp coat dry hat. Maybe he came in through the garage.

Mrs. Preston mentions a dream that always “starts with a storm… and then your father…”

Mark dismisses the idea.

A barking dog alerts the household to a visitor. (They leave to dog out in the rain?) Steve Preston (George Sawaya) stumbles into an entryway. His face appears covered in wax. His family looks at him in surprise but says nothing.

The elder Preston mumbles about the book and Corbis in the desert at Red Stone, a ghost town. “Give Corbis what belongs to him.”

He drops to the ground and, in front of his horrified family, mutters “in nomine satanis” before melting in the rain like a Nazi peeking into the Ark of the Covenant.

Mrs. Preston says, “That was not your father” and begs Mark to give Corbis the book. Mark agrees, but he’ll do so on his terms, which involves a gun. He takes the gun, retrieves the book from under the floorboards, and goes to his car in the nighttime and pouring rain. Here her finds a doll pinned to his steering wheel. A scream arises from the house, and lights flash on and off from upstairs windows.

Running back in, Mark finds ranch hand John (Woodrow Chambliss) strung up by his heels and bloodied. (“Corbis! Goddamn you!”). He cuts John down, goes upstairs to find his mother’s room in shambles. His mother is nowhere to be found. From under the same floorboards where he earlier retrieved the book, he now retrieves an amulet and goes back outside, where suddenly daylight has struck. The road is dry to the point his car kicks up dust as he drives away.

He tells John he’ll be back but has pretty much left the old man to fend for himself.

John mutters, “They have no faces…”

Thoughts:

This has got to be one of the most incomprehensible movies I’ve seen in a long time. There’s something about a book that an old apprentice of the devil, Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine), wants because it contains the signatures of those he’s convinced to since Puritan times to swear allegiance to Satan. These are the souls he holds in what looks like an oversized planter where it’s always raining. A viewing pane shows them wandering around crying like, well, the souls of the damned.

If the book gives Corbis so much power, passed down by generations of the Preston family for some four hundred years, you’d think someone somewhere along the line might think to destroy the book? What a good idea! A little kindling or gasoline and a match? Later, when a character brings the book from a safe place into a Satanist stronghold, no one says, “Bad plan, dude.”

Part of this is silly fun. Ernest Borgnine clearly enjoyed being the bad guy who scared the daylights out of all our heroes. There is some gore in the film. People—wax -people with blacked-out eyes—dissolve in the rain. (That’s not the devil’s rain, though.) When they’re shot, as a good number of them are, they bleed a stream of green blood and another of blue. Children may find it scary. I found it hokey.

Church of Satan founder Anton Lavey served as technical advisor and had a small part in the film. Another small—blink-and-you’ll-miss-him small—went to John Travolta as a young Satanist.

For her role, Ida Lupino won best supporting actress from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1976.

I recommend avoiding this one. There may be a complete story in there somewhere, but I’m just not interested enough to go look for it.

This gem came be viewed on YouTube for free here. It’s even available for rent or purchase.


Title: The Devil’s Rain (1975)

Directed by
Robert Fuest

Writing Credits
Gabe Essoe…(written by) &
James Ashton…(written by) and
Gerald Hopman…(written by)


Cast:
Ernest Borgnine…Jonathan Corbis
Eddie Albert…Dr. Sam Richards
Ida Lupino…Mrs. Preston
William Shatner…Mark Preston
Keenan Wynn…Sheriff Owens
Tom Skerritt…Tom Preston

Released: 1975
Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Rated: PG

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

15 thoughts on “Review of “The Devil’s Rain” (1975)

  1. IDK I grew up watching that film as a kid in the 70’s, it scared me and I love the super cheese acting of Shatner & Borgnine as an adult, that good classic bad worth multiple views.

    1. You are right about the acting. One of the redeeming aspects of the film is how much Shatner and Borgnine seem to be enjoying themselves. They’re not taking it seriously. If I’d seen this as a kid, it probably would have scared the bejesus out of me. But as a jaded adult, the story didn’t work for me.

      1. It is pretty lame and the melting people, doesn’t really make sense…but I still it’s a fun bad movie..I mean look at Phantasm…that film makes absolutely no sense, but I still.love that.

      2. Phantasm I didn’t see. Another huh? movie was “Time walker.” There are lots of fun bad movies like “The Crawling Eye.” They could be genuinely scary, too. The melting thing here, I think, is just to shock people.

      3. I will tell you though, my dad hated this film. My mom was a horror fan, she dragged him to this film and he hated every minute of it. Because it scared him (they were both adults) 😆

      4. WOW. Well, I guess it’s different for everyone. I didn’t hate everyone minute of it, and I wasn’t scared. I was more perplexed than anything else.

      5. One film that scared the absolute crap out of me as a kid was Mr. Sardonicus. I couldn’t finish watching it. And I don’t think I slept for a week. When I finally saw it as adult, I see as more startling and depressing than scary.

      6. Dang! They could have hired a sitter for you one night! The scariest things my folks took me and my brother to see when we were little were things like “Bambi” and “Old Yeller.” A little context: we were—and still are—a family of animal lovers. We could see white-tail deer (and bear) around my grandparents’ place. We grew up with dogs. The idea of shooting a dog gave me nightmares for months.

      7. I do remember seeing multiple Disney films but nope, i guess my parents were cheap my brother (who is 5 yrs older) and me saw a crapload of films growing up that weren’t for kids lol

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