The Devil's Rain (1975)(Release Date: July 1975)

Pretend that this is a DEVIL DOG... Or a Horn Dog!

These Devils Wane!

Devil's Food?
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

In the late 1980's a movie called Hellraiser was released, and heavily advertised on television, in newspapers and in day care centers everywhere. Around this time I just happened to be visiting some family in Houston, and we were all deciding which movie to see together. I saw one of the Newsprint Ads for Hellraiser, which prompted me to say "I can't WAIT to see that movie!"

My uncle, a born again Catholic and devout drunk, screamed "But you'll be giving money to the Satan Worshippers!" with a shocked sincerity that might remind one of that Hindenberg Radio Announcer guy!

I'll admit I skipped a couple of days in economics class (possibly drinking with my uncle), but I'm not so sure his head was in the right place, even if his heart was. However, in the case of The Devil's Rain he'd have been at least partially correct (in fact, this might have been what planted the seed for him).
Well, I'll be damned!

The 1975 Horror quiche known as The Devil's Rain did, in fact, have crotch munching Satanic Priest Anton Lavey on its payroll as "Technical Advisor", credited complete with his middle name (ha ha ha) "Szandor"! They even let him "act" in the film and let him bring along his wife! Now, knowing how much a wife can nag, can you just imagine the annoyance a satan-worshipping Jackal-Humping bride like Diane LaVey would promote on a set? Damn! Anyway, my dear old Uncle need not have bothered worth a finger-frig on this one. In fact, having satanists make movies like this hemorrhoid on the ass of the film industry is probably the most shining advertisement for becoming a born-again Christian I've ever seen (much more than a visit from Jim and Tammy Faye!). Why? The Devil's Rain is inept and incoherent, like a filmic representation of most of the executive branch of my company. Hell, they should show this at Church Camps everywhere. The kids would be laughing like jackals, and would possibly all sign up to become Reverends after seeing how dorky the Devil's Army comes off in this.

As I popped this diaper into my DVD player, I was somewhat comforted, seeing as how the movie didn't seem like it was all that bad to start with (unless you count a credit sequence longer than the drum solo from "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"). However, approximately 78 seconds after smiling William Shatner walks through the door the "bad" scale starts tipping toward the realm of "Mr. Yuck", the poison control mascot. Let me just say this before I go on... any movie that features William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert AND Keenan Wynn is just asking for trouble. What drunken frat brothers came up with the idea for this Over-acting Competition? If they'd managed to hire Christopher Walken then we'd really be in bidness!

Shatner's Mark Preston alternately pause-acts and freaks his way out into the desert to confront bloated satanic priest John Corbis (Borgnine), who can't possibly deliver the souls he's already bought to "Lucifer" unless he has some three hundred year old book Mark's mommy (Ida Lupino) has been hiding under some really crappy throw rug. However, the night before Mark shows up, Corbis converted ol' ma into one of his own... so, if it's so damned important why doesn't he just send her home to pick it up... and maybe bring him back a Tab or something, 'cause it's hot out!

Ah, but that would make too much sense, wouldn't it? Even amid the Christian chanting of All-American Mark (played by Jewish Canadian Shatner), Corbis seems to be gaining the upper hand (and does a really goofy turn as a man-yak while he's at it). Through the power of "The Devil's Rain" (not actually the precipitation that melts people, but a big glass bottle filled with souls and topped with a plastic Goat's Head) just about everyone and their burro has been assimilated by the Borgnine!

Enter Mark's brother Tom (as in Tom Skerritt) who is more than ready to infiltrate the cult like Han and Luke to the Stormtrooper ranks. To this end he brings along his own biscuit of a wife Julie (Joan Prather) and his amigo Dr. Sam Richards (Eddie Albert, who was like eight billion millennia old when he did Green Acres, and remained ageless through this thing, his Muppets "Save the Soil" commercials and his Thirtysomething role... I'm pretty sure he faked his death even). Not that saving the day from the demon precipitation is going to be as easy to do as opening a parasol or something. Face, it, Tommy, the Cult is packed with soulless morons in black dresses and gouged out eyes, up to and including John Travolta, who obviously had some trouble "stayin' alive" in this stained movie! Clearly director Robert Fuest had recently watched The Omega Man, but kids, Marathon Man is scarier than this thing. Maybe if Tom, Sam and Julie had a plan that could hold the water of your average spit-and-rinse cup or something... I don't know.

The tagline for this thigh cramp was "Heaven help us all when The Devil's Rain!", meaning they didn't even try to make the advertisements grammatically correct. Maybe if they'd said "Heaven help us all when The Devils Reign!" it would have made sense! More than one devil in control? Or what about "Heaven help us all when the devils rain!", you know without the apostrophe, so we could watch all these jerks fall out of the sky without parachutes... hell!

Morosely, there was one other tag line that proved the promoters had really nothing else to go on and they knew that even Anton Lavey himself would probably walk out of this vortex of the vapid. The other tagline was "Absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture ever!". Kids, please, look up "hyperbole" in the dictionary. Could we get some MORE superlatives in there, please? Would that be possible? I don't think you've properly conveyed your excitement yet. I waited until the end. Didn't find any incredible ending... so I sat through the credits. Not there either. When the DVD menu popped up again I was thinking "Okay, I'm ready!" It sort of reminds me of the time a bunch of us leaked the news that we were throwing this guy Wayne a surprise party, and when he showed up the "surprise" was that we really were just fuckin' around and there was no party. Thanks, The Devil's Rain, you've made me a better person because now I know how that must have felt. I need therapy. Fuck! FUCK!!!

I have to say... well I don't have to say, but I want to... well, I don't really want to say it either, but I guess I'm going to... say that at least these guys were trying to make The Devil's Rain a worthwhile film. Even Shatner works hard to tone it down here, although he does have a few echoing "KHAN!!!" moments. Further the three writers James Ashton, Gabe Essoe and Gerald Hopman seemed to have a direction here (albeit demented and sad) and a few surprises that just didn't make it to the screen, probably due to a budget that your average straight-to-video Iranian Porno would surpass. I feel sorry for this film, man. I wanted it to be cool, I kept thinking that any minute it would be, but every time I saw that horned Borgnine making funny faces at the camera I realized that sometimes when the car is totaled, you just have to call a cab. I still love you, Ernie, but damn!

This movie will forever be noteworthy for two things:

  1. This was John Travolta's first film (when he shouts "BLASPHEMER" you believe it... um...)
  2. The infamous Michael Myers mask from the Halloween movies was based on Shatner's eyeless visage in this venial flick. An indirect place in horror history is still a place in horror history.
I feel really guilty about giving The Devil's Rain a Dog, but a Dog it is, a Dog it shall remain and a Dog it shall get. Maybe we could call it a "Devil Dog" or even a Jackal and it'd feel better? Agh! Now I have guilt. I'm going to go write that Wayne guy an apology letter for that prank. Then I'd better write one to old James Kidd for the time Weaz and I took him out to dinner and left him there. And then one to Weaz for all those songs I wrote and distributed about him. Man, I've been a real rotten person, I have. But... at least I'm not giving money to the Satan Worshippers! See you in the next reel, even if it is technically a pentagram!

This is the movie the producers of Boston Legal do NOT want you to see!
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The Devil's Rain (1975) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for the opinions expressed here, there and everywhere, and for the fact that in his own humble opinion, this movie was worse than Double Dragon!
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Daniel "Le Weaz" Weitzel, that is!
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