Wednesday, February 16, 2011

#194. The Devil's Rain (1975)

Directed By: Robert Fuest

Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino

Tag line: "Absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture"

Trivia:  The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films awarded Ida Lupino it's Golden Scroll Award as Best Supporting Actress for her work in this film

During the opening credits, we learn that the technical adviser on The Devil's Rain was none other than Anton LeVay, one of the founders of the Church of Satan, the first official Satanic church in the United States. Listed as Anton Szandor LeVay, the credit sequence grants him the exalted title of 'High Priest of the Church of Satan'. I mention this on the off-chance you're not sure what a film titled The Devil's Rain is all about. 

A Satanic High priest named John Corbis (played by Ernest Borgnine) is searching for a book that holds the key to unlocking great power, a power he desperately wants to control. For centuries, this book has been guarded by the Preston family, who are determined to keep it from falling into Corbis' hands. Corbis manages to kill Steve Preston (George Sawaya), the current patriarch of the family, and kidnap his wife (Ida Lupino) in the process.  But Preston's son, Mark (William Shatner), escapes with the book, vowing to avenge his father's death by destroying Corbis and all of his followers. 

The Devil's Rain boasts an impressive cast. Ida Lupino is solid as the eternally worried wife and mother who eventually falls under Corbis' spell, and even though he was years removed from the command deck of the Starship Enterprise, William Shatner is in full 'Captain Kirk' mode as Steve Preston, delivering his lines as if every single one were a matter of life or death. Steve Corbett's brother, Tom, who's also pulled into the fight with Corbis, is played by Tom Skerritt (like Shatner, Skerritt would leave his mark on the world of Sci-Fi as the captain of a spaceship, playing Dallas in Ridley Scott's Alien). There's even an appearance by a very young John Travolta (in his feature film debut) as one of Corbis' minions. And then we have the man himself, Mr. Ernest Borgnine. Just seeing Borgnine's name in the credits is usually enough to pique my interest, and in The Devil's Rain, he does not disappoint. As Corbis, Borgnine is at times reserved, yet you sense he can unleash chaos at any given moment. He even gets to wear some pretty sharp make-up in a couple of scenes, donning devil's horns and a goatee. Having tackled a variety of supporting roles throughout his career, Borgnine was rarely afforded the opportunity to take center-stage, so it was nice to see him play what was essentially the lead in The Devil's Rain

Unfortunately, and despite such a talented group of performers, The Devil's Rain is only partially successful. It does have it's moments; the opening 20 to 30 minutes that lead up to Steve Preston's showdown with Corbis are action-packed, and the final scene is one you'll remember for a long time. The problem is what lies in-between, where the story gets bogged down with flashbacks, rituals and a handful of plot twists that never really click. While certainly not a bad movie, The Devil's Rain does falter, and no higher power, or indeed high-powered cast, proved strong enough to save it from the throes of mediocrity.


Anonymous said...

Thx for providing additional horror content while we gear up for the next show. Sticking with the 70's I see, that is a good thing.

I am really looking forward to the new release reviews coming next.

Horror is the best isn't it Mr. Shock.


Dave Becker said...

Timothy: Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

I'm glad you're enjoying the posts. Going forward, I'm shooting to add a minimum of 3 horror movies per week to the site. As for the next show, we're gearing up for it now. It should be a good one!

Thanks again (and yes, horror movies are extremely entertaining)!

Anonymous said...

You Nailed the Caradine impersonation, north-west, no its north by north-west and you used the word cantankerous which perfectly described his character, havent heard that word used in ages. Was a decent movie the Shock Waves but I don't think I would watch it again, really not the usual "run of the mill zombie movie.", much less frightening.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Thanks for the comment on the impression (but he was an easy one to do in this movie...just get all sorts of angry!).

I can understand your feelings on SHOCK definitely was a slow burn, and there wasn't much along the line of scares.

Personally, I enjoyed it's pacing, and probably will watch it again sometime in the future, but again, I understand where you're coming from.

Thanks again for listening, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Coming to you from Germany DoctorShock, enjoy the podcast and personalities a bunch.

Did you ever think about going to an episode a week, my horror cravings could use it!!!!!


Dave Becker said...

@Scarsboro: Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

I'm glad you're enjoying the show. We have a lot of fun recording it, and it's nice to see it's just as much fun to listen to. At this point, there's no plans to go weekly, but who knows what the future will hold?

Thanks again

Mark Monlux said...

I've won so many bar bets with this movie.

Dave Becker said...

Mark: Thanks for the comment!

You've piqued my interest...what were the nature of these bets?