The Devil's Rain
Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Ida Lupino, William Shatner
Heaven help us all when....THE DEVIL'S RAIN! (sic)
Original poster blurb for The Devil's Rain
I'm sure that there will be a number of people out there
who will greatly
enjoy The Devil's Rain for its cast alone. Besides cult
like Borgnine, Lupino, and Shatner, the cast also includes Tom
Eddie Albert, Keenan Wynn, and John Travolta. Not only is a cast like
unforgettable, but there is also the added bonus of seeing these people
humiliate themselves in a movie that is B-grade, even less so at times.
I did enjoy seeing all those actors in one movie, and seeing them
around and try to fit in, like non-swimmers in a pool of water, was
funny at times.
The problem I had with The Devil's Rain
was when the movie
tries something else, and those segments of the movie are terribly
sometimes amusing, but more often serious and solemn enough to be
dull. Whenever I was rewarded with something like a funny moment or a
effect, I knew I would then have to wait some long minutes before
like that would happen again, just like when I watched Slaughterhouse
Rock. No, I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't exactly
it at the same time. The movie just seems to be there, and that's all -
like it's given the work of making it enjoyable up to you. If there's a
movie where you have to be in the exact mood to enjoy it, then
movie is The Devil's Rain.
Back to speaking about the performances: Borgnine is the
the movie. He plays Jonathan Corbis (Borgnine), leader of a secret
of witches in Puritan society who is "killed" along with his followers.
His powers caused him to survive, of course, and he has lived on into
society. He plans to retrieve a holy book which will enable him to
all the souls he has to his "underworld" boss. For much of the movie,
is pretty restrained, even when he delivers a line like, "What say
to his flock. However, when the lights flash and a puff of smoke
he transforms into a half man/half goat, complete with large
goat horns on his head! In these scenes, Borgnine goes ape, shrieking
screaming, and bulging his eyes almost out of his sockets. This helps
make the second half of the movie much more successful than the first.
The second half of the movie is definitely more campy
than the first
half, not just from Borgnine, but our old favorite, William Shatner.
he does manage to generate some laughs in the first half as well. He
one of the members of the Preston family, which have kept Borgnine's
safely hidden for many generations. When his father suddenly melts into
pools of milkshakes and candle wax before his eyes, Shatner tries (very
unsuccessfully) to show how upset he is, while his mother (also seeing
her husband melt) looks at Shatner as if to say, "What's up?" Shatner
finds time to gape his mouth open at several key points, which is even
more funny when he's staring off into space at the same time. During
course of the movie (after his mother is kidnapped, and he traces her
a ghost town), Shatner takes off his shirt (calm down, ladies), and
transformed into a black-eyed zombie, which makes him give an even
performance than usual. What's interesting is that with the pale
and those black eyes, he looks strikingly like the mask Michael Meyers
wears in the Halloween movies. (And it's a fact that the
original Michael Meyers' mask was a William Shatner mask painted white
- no joke.)
It does sound like a pretty fun movie, doesn't it? And
there are some
fun scenes, where we see other people melt into gooey piles onto the
actors dressed in bizarre costumes, a "soul vessel" that looks very
like a portable TV (complete with a screen), and hilarious dialogue and
scenes. One of my favorite scenes is when Shatner gives a long verbal
of instructions to a man who is obviously very senile.
there's a lot to be disappointed about with this movie as well.
(who plays one of Borgnine's followers) well, he only gets two words of
dialogue in the entire movie, and we never really see his face (*).
Besides this, the movie also suffers from the fact that the script is
thin - a lot of the movie has people wandering around the
of the ghost town and the surrounding area, and in the scenes where
things do happen,
many times the pacing seems to have been deliberately slowed down. One
scene has someone having a psychic vision of what happened in the past,
which does explain a lot of questions we have, but it goes on forever.
I got a headache from the visual look of everything - throughout the
there are very poorly lit scenes, scenes where the level of lighting
from shot to shot - sometimes even in the same shot, and colored
that obscure the action onscreen. To make matters worse for the visual
quality, the print used for the United Video version I saw was, let's
substandard. All of these things sometimes make The Devil's Rain
like you are watching a multi-generation pirated tape.
I neither liked or disliked The Devil's Rain enough
give it a blessing or a curse. Though that's because maybe I didn't
what to expect when I rented it. As I said earlier, you need to be in
right mood to enjoy it. Except maybe for those few who are real fans of
these actors (especially the combination of them), it's not just
enough to read about the elements that I liked, and decide if they
to you; you have to be accepting of a movie that is somewhat
This is one movie that should have stayed in the witch's cauldron a
UPDATE: An explanation for Travolta's role
being so tiny was provided by reader William Norton:
"As for Travolta in The Devil's Rain, he
originally had A
LOT MORE scenes, but was either edited or wasn't shot. When (producer)
Howard FIRST announced the shooting of this film, he took out a full
ad in Variety back in 1974, and had the whole cast take a publicity
and had everyone who is billed in the poster smiling in a group pose,
Travolta, as the original credits read "...and introducing John
as..." So apparently, he was to have a much bigger part."
* It's not surprising to find out
that in a movie
concerned with a nutso religion, John Travolta first learned about
from a crew member on the set.
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See also: Shadowbuilder, Ticks, Curse Of The