Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Satanic Summer: Devil's Rain (1975)

Devil's Rain (1975)
Director: Robert Fuest
Starring: Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, and Ida Lupino
Running Time: 86 min

  I was really surprised that I had never heard of this film until just recently.  Not only does it have a prominent 70's cast such Borgnine, Shatner and Tom Skerritt but it was directed by Robert Fuest, the man who brought us the "Dr. Phibes" films! And on top of that the Satanic stunt/realism coordinator is none other than Anton LeVey.  So, this should be an interesting film on all levels of craziness.

  Mark Phifer arrives home to find his mother, Mrs. Phifer and their live-in old man, John upset.  She tells him that Corbis has found them and he wants the book!  Suddenly, they hear a familiar voice outside and they leave the house to see who it is.  It's Mark's father, kind of.  He has no eyes, a gooey looking face and tells them that Corbis wants the book!  And they don't go to an abandoned mining down to drop it off, then they're all doomed forever!  Mark feeds his creepy pops full of lead with his shotgun and they watch in horror as this creature melts into wax in front of them.  They go back into the house and Mrs. Phifer refuses to give up the book to anyone because she knows that it will bring doom to them all!  She gives Mark a magical amulet and he leaves to talk some sense into this Corbis fellow but when he gets to his car which is only three feet away, he hears screams from the house.  Mark dashes back to the house to find John hanging upside down, his mother kidnapped and the house ransacked!  He JUST went to the car.  But, he cuts down John and heads back to his car to go and face this evil monster Corbis.  Nobody hangs John upside down in a corner, nobody!
  When he arrives in the abandon mining down, he meets up with Corbis immediately and over a magical cup of water at a hitching post, they decide to have a battle of faiths for the souls of his family members.  Apparently, Corbis is a satanic priest, who may or may not do magic for children's parties on the side but as a considerable in with the big D and Mark, well, he has a magical amulet and God on his side.  So, they go into a church and say prayers at each other until Mark gets fed up and pulls a gun on Corbis.  Corbis laughs and says, "Is THAT your faith?" which humiliates Mark, who then runs out of the church and into the street, where he is surrounded by disciples of Corbis.  Corbis uses the old, change your amulet into a snake gag on Mark, which disarms him and they take Mark back into the church to torture him to find out where this magical book is.  The end.
  No wait, Mark has another brother, Tom Preston, that wasn't mentioned at all in the first part of the movie and who's wife, Julie is psychic.  During a DEMONstration of her psychic powers at a university, she sees all the things that just happened in the first part and gives a ton of spoilers away for the rest of the film in a fast forward montage clip in her head.  She tells Tom right away and they head back to the old homestead to grab the book and battle the evil Corbis once and for all!  However, Tom leaves his psychic wife at the homestead because Corbis is too dangerous, so instead of bringing someone with unlimited psychic powers, he takes a gun? Dummy.  Will Tom be able to finally defeat the evil Corbis and save his family, who forgot to mention that he exists in the first half of the film or will he and his psychic wife give up the book and become satanic minions like so many before them?  

This really is a terrible film buuuuuut, it's so bad that there is a certain amount of charm to it and it did make me laugh at lot.  Director Robert Fuest (The Abominable Dr. Phibes, many ABC's After School Specials) is so completely all over the place with this film, that at one point Corbis and Phifer are arguing about what whether Phifer or Preston is Mark's last name, and one wonders did this satanist not catch the right guy?  It's explained later on in the film in a confusing flashback that really brings more questions to the table that don't get explained throughout the rest of the film.  Also, the whole Tom Preston story in this, seems completely tacked on and I don't even know if Tom Skerritt (Alien, War Hunt), who plays Tom and William Shatner (Kingdom of Spiders, Visiting Hours) even share a scene together.  It's like here's Movie A and here's Movie B and Fuest is desperately trying to mash them together.
 The cast is decent, in a bad movie kind of way, Shatner is of course Shatner in this.  His unusual speaking style with the dramatic pauses for no reason are very prevalent in this film.  Also, John Travolta (Battlefield Earth, Chains of Gold) has top billing in this but this being his first movie before Welcome Back, Kotter became a hit, so he is just one of the satanic drones and I don't even remember seeing his face without makeup.  However, my favourite has to be Ernest Borgnine (Deadly Blessing, Convoy), who plays the satanic leader Corbis.  He gives a good performance but the best part of this is that he turns into a demon goat thing, which totally cracked me up. 

  Which brings me to some of my favourite parts of this film, which is the special effects.  Although, relatively cheap looking effects ( I could be wrong) and using some time lapse techniques, the make-up crew are the ones who save this film for me.  For one, they do the wonderful make-up job on Ernest Borgnine, which alone is a reason to watch this movie but they also create these creepy druid, eyeless creatures that bleed wax and white goo when they get shot.  It's actually pretty cool looking at the end when Tom (Tom Skerrit) is battling them, there is some serious demon druid carnage.
  Also, I loved the ending and I was actually surprised at what happens at the end.  No, they don't go all go out for ice cream, but there is actually a solid twist here that is creepy, strange and enjoyable.
  On a side note, as I mentioned before that this had Anton LaVey, Leader of the satanic church working as the Satanic stunt/realism coordinator, so one has to wonder if this is what he imagined when he was preforming the secret rights at his church.  Did he believe that he would turn into a demon goat and be a vessel for the devil? Who knows?

  Is this the best horror movie that I've ever seen in my life?  No, not even close, but if you dig MST3K films than you will probably enjoy this as well.  This film has a nonsensical, all over the gambit story line but does have some special effects and very shatneresque acting moments for the entire cast.  So, if you are looking for a satanic film that will make you chuckle and confuse you at times, than burn some incense, chant the words and pop this into your machine and prepare for a hellish evening of fun.

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