The Devil's Rain
the devil's rain | robert fuest | gabe essoe | james ashton | gerald hopman | ernest borgnine | eddie albert | ida lupino | cult | satan | ritual | mexico | united states | william shatner | keenan wynn | tom skeritt | joan prather | religion | john travolta
Film: The Devil’s Rain
Director: Robert Fuest
Writer: Gabe Essoe, James Ashton and Gerald Hopman
Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert and Ida Lupino
This is a movie that I had never heard of until podcasts. I know this seems to have a bit of a cult following and is during the heyday of Satanic Panic films. It is one that I added to a list of movies that I needed to see and now am getting around to it to cover on Side Quest Podcast. The synopsis here is a Satanist cult leader is burnt alive by the local church. He vows to come back to hunt down and enslave every descendant of his congregation, by the power of the book of blood contacts, in which they sold their souls to the devil.
We start this movie in a house while it is storming outside. We have Mrs. Preston (Ida Lupino) with her son Mark (William Shatner) and John (Woody Chambliss) who helps around the farm. They are waiting on the father to get back, but Mrs. Preston thinks that someone else is coming. A vehicle approaches and they go out to find Steve (George Sawaya), but he has no eyes. Mrs. Preston states that isn’t her husband, he’s been taken over by Corbis. Mark goes down to the vehicle and finds a doll nailed to the steering wheel. There is then a commotion from the house that he goes to check on. He finds John strung upside down and bleeding. His mother is gone.
This takes Mark to the town of Redstone. It is deserted, or at least thought to be. It is there he meets a man that we learn is Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine). He’s the leader of the cult. Mark makes a deal with him. They will compete for who’s faith is stronger. If Mark wins, he gets his mother and father’s souls back. If he loses, Mark will give the book along with his soul over. It doesn’t take long for us to see that Corbis is stronger.
A note is sent to his brother, Tom (Tom Skerritt). He’s doing an experiment with his wife of Julie (Joan Prather) and Dr. Sam Richards (Eddie Albert). She can consciously control her heart rate and slow it down. She is pretty much meditating. During this, she gets visions of things to come. That is when Tom gets the note and the two of them go to see what happened with Dr. Richards joining later.
Once at his family’s home, he meets with Sheriff Owens (Keenan Wynn). The bad storm from the night before is keeping him busy. Tom inquires about the town of Redstone and he is told to let it go. There is nothing there. That doesn’t stop this couple from going. That is when they first encounter someone of this cult that is missing eyes. Tom knows his family is there, but he must find a way to stop Corbis before it is too late. Julie also has visions of the past to better understand what is happening here.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and shift to this over to breaking down parts of this. Where I want to start is the concept of the movie is one that I love. I’m a big fan of religious films. Now Corbis is supposed to be a Satanist. I do find it interesting that Anton LaVey, the writer of the Satanic bible and I also believer founder of the church, was a technical advisor as well as in the movie as the high priest. I found it interesting him being involved, as this doesn’t follow the religion from my understanding. I’m thinking this was a way for him to be a movie and get paid. Regardless, I do enjoy all the aspects with the dark arts. They create interesting mythology there with the Devil’s Rain being a thing. This is also borrowing lore from witches as well, which I can understand why. There tends to be confusion and crossing over for what their beliefs are.
This will be where I go next. This movie is taking place out west. We have deserts, but I like that when Julie sees the church being used for the cult, she states it isn’t right. Corbis is the person from the synopsis who was executed for being a Satanist. As he has been roaming the world, looking for the ancestors of his cult members, he moved the church from Salem or wherever in New England it was out here. Jamie from Horror in the House of Sammons pointed out that they didn’t burn witches in America, but that is what they do here. Mark is a direct descended of Martin Fyffe, which is why Corbis is after him. This all works well for me with the story and Corbis needing the book that they took. It has everyone’s names, signed in blood that joined him.
Then the last thing to briefly go over is the idea of the Devil’s Rain. I’m not sure where they came up with this. There is an artifact that is discovered later in the movie that ties in with this. The rain also seems to kill those that are followers of Corbis. It makes for an interesting end sequence for sure.
Moving away from this, I’ll go to the acting. This movie has an interesting cast. We have Borgnine who has such a presence. He’s great here as this villainous leader of the cult. We also get to see him in make-up later that is more demon-like on top of that. Albert is solid along with Lupino. I like that she along with Shatner get to play a good and evil version of their character. Skerritt is solid here along with Prather. We also get to see a young John Travolta as a member of the cult as well. Overall I think we have a good cast here.
Next would be the effects. The look that is used for those that are possessed is great. I’m assuming it was done with a prosthetic over the upper part of the face to make it look like they don’t have eyes. It is quite creepy and effective. Aside from that, there aren’t a lot used, but the melting that we good looked good. It is interesting that the mask used for Shatner here would go on to make the mask for Halloween. The cinematography was also solid as well. I did like that the opening credits are shown over a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
Then the last thing I want to delve into the soundtrack and sound design. For the former, we are getting some songs that fit the vibe of the movie. It is unnerving and effective. I also think the chanting and whispering we get helps here as well. This movie does an excellent job with building a spooky atmosphere that is coupled with the visuals. This would be a soundtrack I would listen to if I can find it while writing.
So then in conclusion here, this movie is a bit schlocky for being from the 1970’s, but it hits things I like. I’m a sucker for religious based horror like this. I think the premise of what we are getting here works. The acting is strong for a movie like this. The effects with the visuals and the soundtrack build a creepy atmosphere that the movie has. There are some slight issues I have, but nothing that hurts it too much. This movie won’t be for everyone. There are much better movies in this sub-genre, but I think this one is fun. This is an above average movie for me and I’d recommend giving it a viewing.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10