SEPTEMBER 16 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE DEVILS RAIN
Every generation of films have their own style, and horror movies in the 70s were certainly a lot different than they've been for the past two decades. In fact, they're even much different than the usual older 80s slasher flicks we review. 70s horror films are marked by an almost universal sense of dread - the heroes go up against impossible odds in a story that just gets more and more depressing as it goes on. Oftentimes, the films will end with a suggestion that evil has indeed triumphed over good, robbing the audience of the chance to go home with smiles on their faces. These flicks were dark and gritty by nature, not design. And despite their rather obvious flaws, horror movies from this period can spook you out a lot more than most of the stuff you're paying to see today.
The Devil's Rain, from 1975, certainly fits that description. Still, calling this film 'unique' would be a gross understatement, and it's hard to place it in any real genre. Promotions for the movie promised a 'real and true look into the world of Satanism.' I'm not sure if that's the case. If we're to believe that, then we're also to believe that most Satanic cults can conjure up a goat-mask wearing devil in silk robes at will. We also must believe that Satanists have pure black eyes and melt into puddles of fleshy goo when wet. So no, this is far from a forged documentary. But it's still Holy Shit weird.
Consider the cast: William Shatner as the hero, Ernest Borgnine as the devil-worshipping villain. Tom Skerrit as the secondary hero, with John Travolta making his film debut as the secondary villain with no eyes or lines. Eddie Albert as the third hero, and SATAN HIMSELF as the third villain. With a cast like that, the last thing you'd expect to watch is a shitty horror movie about soul-stealing desert demons. Even if The Devil's Rain was boring, it still would've garnered some cult notoriety for itself based on the cast and all the devilish stuff that goes on. But trust me, this thing ain't boring.
Though this flick really has to be seen to be believed, I doubt more than a handful of you are willing to locate the rare video and pay whatever some screwball wants to charge you. Because of that, I've taken extra time with this review to make sure I hit all the necessary plot points - most of which involve a shirtless Shatner being burned to death or a shirtless Shatner smashing the devil's demonic egg-shaped television set. No, really. Read on...
The movie starts right in the midst of the story - an aspect any horror fan should appreciate. These kinds of films usually spend half their running time setting up plots and plot devices that were obvious to the audience long before they ever make it onscreen. Course, you might be a little confused with The Devil's Rain, since you're thrust directly into the action. Will Shatner plays Mark Preston, who's mother has been experiencing a recurring nightmare about her family dying. Since Dad hasn't come home yet, she's sure that her dreams are coming true. We get the feeling that someone is after the Preston family, but we shouldn't be too proud of our sleuth skills since they flat out tell us that five hundred times in the opening minute.
I'm serious, it's phenomenal. You can't believe how many words they manage to cram into the first minute. It's even more of an achievement when you consider Shatner's penchant for separating each word by a dramatic five-second pause.
Anyway, they all run outside and find Daddy wandering about. Only Daddy doesn't look quite right - his skin seems to be melting, he's lost the usual swagger in his step, and oh yeah - he's got compound insect eyes now. Melting Pop drones on and on about 'giving the book to it's rightful owner,' and before he dies, Shatner drags the name of his assailant out: Jonathan Corbis. Oh boy, wait till you see Jonathan Corbis. By the way, when Dad dies, he evaporates into a small puddle of slimy wax. The Prestons handle this with about as much remorse as I would if my father told me that he ruined a new pair of pants by spilling a small puddle of slimy wax on them. They're all heartless, and 50% of them tongued Uhura.
See, Jonathan Corbis is a devil-worshipping demon man who's kept coming back to life for hundreds of years to haunt the Prestons and their ancestors. Why? They're the keepers of a book containing signatures. Signatures from those who've pledged their soul to Satan. After Corbis' goons kidnap Mark's mother, he agrees to meet Jonathan in some far corner of the desert. Yes, that's Ernest Borgnine up above as the cult leader. Why he is dressed like a cowboy? I simply cannot answer that. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but Satan makes his followers dress like cowboys. Both sides piss you off in their own way.
Corbis demands the book. Preston demands his mother and father. Evidently, your father can come back from death assuming he was only killed by melting. They decide to have a little competition - if Shatner can survive the torments of Borgnine's Horror House, he gets to go free with his family and the book. If Corbis wins out, he gets the book, Mark's soul, and the recipe for Mama Preston's locally famous apple pie.
Just to make sure we're clear on The Devil's Rain being dumb, Mark is protected by an amulet his mother left him - an alarm clock on a chain, painted gold, not unlike the one which typically graced the torso of well known Star Trek alien Flava Flav. The duo enters Corbis' church, and Mark certainly wasn't prepared for the evils that waited behind closed doors...
Ernest Borgnine, starring in Little Red Riding Hood. You know Corbis is the cult's leader because he gets to wear the super-sized pentagram pendant. Everyone knows that the true key to summoning Hell's imps and trolls is by donning jewelry from Spencer Gifts. I must admit, the movie is much easier to watch if you're a Borgnine fan. The Poseidon Adventure is one of my favorite flicks, so I'm all about seeing once of its stars act out voodoo spells in a polyester cloak big enough to house a gorilla.
Corbis begins his standard ceremony, but Mark blocks the evil by repeating the Our Father prayer. It doesn't work, so he just shoots a few of his minions instead. All of them have the black bug eyes, and when shot, they spill out multicolored blood. Now annoyed, Corbis unveils a special surprise for Mark...
His mother! His mother is one of them! A devil-worshipping, black-eyed bitch troll! Mrs. Preston, possessed, begs Mark to join them and to give Corbis the book. Even though he's been defeated, Mark still won't reveal the book's ultra-secret location. (under a goddamned brick that's two inches above floor level in the middle of their living room, wake up Corbis) Jonathan knows just what to do. If he turns Mark into one of his scary-faced followers, he'll give up the book's hiding spot.
At this point, the storyline switches up a bit. Shatner's captured. He's worthless, he won't be saving the day. But somebody's gotta save the day, right? I mean, we're only a half hour in, and seemingly, the Devil has won. This ain't no dang feelgood experience, that's for sure. So let's meet our new hero - Tom Skerrit!
Okay, I know Tom's a pretty big star, but I still remember him best as one of Rebecca's bosses from Cheers. You know, the one Norm begs to carry across the front lawn? Oddly, he seems a tad taller here than I remember him. I'd say they were employing neat camera tricks to make him appear taller, but who am I kidding? Nobody on The Devil's Rain crew could've possibly known a trick like that. Not with this many instances of a boom mic on-camera. I guess he just shrunk as he got older, like an old lady or one of those slime globs you get out of grocery store vending machines.
Skerrit plays Tom Preston, Mark's brother who just found out his family was missing. Though common sense dictates that they were flooded out by a massive storm, he knows the family history and realizes that something far more evil is working its magic. Tom is seconded by his girlfriend, a lovely lady with ESP who keeps having terrible visions about everyone she loves writhing in agony. This movie really puts me in the mood for teddy bears and pink hearts.
After a few moments with these two fighting off some of Corbis' zombie army, we're treated to an extended flashback scene which explains how everyone's in this little predicament...
Centuries ago, Corbis led an underground troop of devil-worshippers. A Preston ancestor sold him out to the proper authorities in exchange for immunity, but the locals burned them anyway. At the stake, Corbis swore revenge on the Preston family for all of time. So yes, he's been after them for the past three-hundred years. He must've been really, really, really mad!
While I appreciate the background info, I must take issue with their decision to put thick translucent red paper over the lens to illustrate the scene as being a 'flashback.' You'd think the witch burnings and pilgrim clothes would've tipped us off just fine, but The Devil's Rain is nothing if not thorough. I reserve further complaints because I myself sold my soul to the devil a few months back in exchange for the delivery of a video featuring Ernest Borgnine in a pilgrim costume. Thanks Satan, I'll kill the pope tomorrow.
Okay, we're just about up to the real money scenes. As strange as the film's been so far, it just gets weirder and weirder from here on out. Tom beats up one of the zombie followers and steals his clothes, and despite Corbis' great and almost-psychic powers, this enough to fool the whole clan into believing he's one of them. Hey, it was dark out.
Corbis then begins his ceremony - a sacrifice of William Freakin' Star Trek Priceline Shatner to the devil. Now any time you want to please Satan, you've gotta hurt somebody real bad. After torturing Mark for a few minutes, the devil is appeased and - get this - he wants to thank his devout followers in person. IN PERSON, FOLKS, GET READY. HERE HE IS. THE MYTH. THE MAN. THE DEVIL:
Ohhh my God. OH MY GOD. So far, we've seen Little Red Riding Borgnine and Plymouth Rock Borgnine. Now, the end-all, be-all Borgnine: GOAT-FACED SATAN BORGNINE. I think The Devil's Rain must've been like a swear jar in Ernest's house. Whenever he accidentally yelled 'fuck,' someone else in the family got to hold up a sign saying 'YOU WERE IN THE STUPIDEST MOVIE EVER IN 1975, NOW STOP SAYING CURSEWORDS!" Then Ernie's head explodes and his family peruses the morning mail standing atop his bloody entrails. Sorry, this movie does really strange things to your head.
Yes, that's really supposed to be Satan. Goat horns and all. Though the film was odd to this point, there really wasn't any warning that we were gonna stray this far into a parallel universe. I have to say though - given the right atmosphere and a rainy night spent alone, The Devil's Rain would be pretty creepy to watch. It's full of strange, spooky sounds, the kind that really grab your soul and smack it around. That's one thing these old stupid flicks had - great, natural sound. If this movie was made today, the demon howls and foreboding chamber music would've been so synthesized that you'd barely be able to resist tapping your foot to the beat and getting funky wit yo bad self. I hate to go off into side rants like that, but that big scary goat picture up above is really freaking me out and I'm trying not to think about it.
Satan (I still can't believe it...) begins performing his own little ceremony on Mark. While reciting some evil poem, he grabs a Mark Voodoo Doll™ and throws it into a flame. Of course, Mark begins screaming in pain. A few more dirty tricks later, and viola! Mark is one of the black-eyed demons! Oh, you poor girls out there. Your first experience with a Shirtless Shatner scene, and they go and ruin it by pasting latex and plastic lenses all over his face. And boy, if you thought Shatner took a while to get through a sentence before, you just gotta hear how he talks after the transformation. I could probably teach my cats to act out the first two acts from Hamlet in less time than it takes Shatner to say "I worship Satan now."
Time to meet the movie's third hero, Dr. Sam Richards. Some kind of paranormal expert who also dresses like a cowboy. (played by Eddie Albert) Richards and Preston (Tom, not Mark) find the elusive book, and try to decide on the best course of action. What to do, what to do? I know! They should infiltrate Corbis' secret lair, and rummage through his shit! Yeah! Maybe he left the means to destroy him in the closet! Let's find out!
Hoooo boy. Man oh man oh man. Describing what I'm about to describe is the kind of stuff writers dream about. It's like you've got this big blank canvas, and you're yearning for the inspiration to create something truly groundbreaking to hit. You're there, and you're drawing a blank. Then, by some miracle, the gods shine down upon you and let you describe Satan's egg-shaped soul-trapping television set. I thank thee Lord, deliver us from evil.
Yes, they find Corbis' special container which imprisons all the souls he was promised. Until he gets the book back, he can't deliver these souls to Satan. The fools make a huge but understandable mistake, forgetting all about the book so they can carry around this huge cool egg instead. The book, which was just left on the floor without a care in the world, is picked up by John Travolta in a demon costume and given back to Corbis. UH OH! TROUBLE!
Just before Corbis succeeds in unleashing Hell on Earth or some shit, one of our heroes threatens to smash the egg. He completely overlooks the zillion Corbis cultists behind him and is immediately thwarted, but zombie-version Shatner has reservations about giving the egg back to his evil master. Seems he's still got a bit of the ol' good Christian lurking in there somewhere. After a lengthy (and I do mean lengthy!) internal struggle with his emotions, Shatner smashes the egg.
And here we go - the scene. While The Devil's Rain gained most of it's reputation due to the star-studded cast, horror movie fans were interested in it for an entirely different reason. The scene. After the Cosmic Egg is smashed, the top of the church blows off and a holy water rainstorm is flushed down towards the devil-worshippers. Remember what happened to Papa Preston when wet? Well, imagine what happens to 200 Papa Prestons when wet. It ain't pretty:
Everyone from John Travolta to Satan melts into a gooey, disgusting mess. The climax sequence lasts forever - almost fifteen minutes of people melting with their eyes falling out and their noses exploding into confetti shooters of pussy fluid. Never watch this flick while eating yogurt. The effects are pretty good for the time, and obviously the result of great effort. They don't just show a few of the poor idiots melting while the rest just run around in the background pretending to melt - they actually go through the full gamut of culty cast members, showing them wither away into a sludgy nothingness one by one. It's real gross. AND IT NEVER ENDS. It gets to the point where you're sure you've seen the demon-version of Mama Preston die fifty times. Luckily, the church blows up and the scene ends just before you go completely and irrevocably insane.
The final swerve is served as Tom gives his girlfriend a happy hug because they've defeated Satan. Problem is, that's not Tom's girlfriend. It's Ernest Borgnine masquerading as a vivacious twenty-something with breasts. The Devil's Rain ends here, with Borgnine cackling away, and the audience is left to piece together what's going to happen next. All signs point to Tom getting his face eaten off. It's a dreary way to close things out, but certainly appropriate.
Overall: Strongly recommended. Nobody phones in their performance, and Borgnine seemed to have a lot of fun playing a devil-worshipping bloodthirsty crazyman. This one is just too strange to pass up. It's a real bad movie, but come on now. If someone was able to stick this cast in a movie about black-eyed Satanists who melt into puddles of wax and come out with something good, then that's pretty indisputable proof that there is no God. Rare as it was for a long time, The Devil's Rain is out on DVD now. If someone has it, please e-mail me and let me know if the special features include Ernest Borgnine being fit into a devil goat costume while drinking coffee. 9 out of 10.
SEPTEMBER 16 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE DEVILS RAIN
There are some films that seem to exist beyond criticism. You can do all you want to point out their problems or their inadequacies, but it just doesn't matter: they simply are, like a fact of nature. The Devil's Rain is such a movie. It has so much going for it -- the cast, the crew, the premise -- that even if it had been a total failure, it would still have earned itself a niche in horror history. The fact that it's really not a bad little flick helps ensure its survival for future generations, but again -- its quality is almost beside the point. I'm just going to invite you to join me in marvelling at this... this thing called The Devil's Rain.
First, let's consider the cast. In our leading roles are Tom Skerritt! William Shatner! Joan Prather! And Ernest Borgnine as the heavy! And as if that weren't enough to catch your attention, we have support from Ida Lupino, Keenan Wynn, Eddie Albert and a barely-visible John Travolta in his screen debut. As every horror buff knows, an all-star cast doesn't guarantee a successful film. Quite the opposite: sometimes stars' egos will conflict and turn the movie into a duel or personalities, and sometimes the producers rely so heavily on the box-office appeal of the stars that they fail to provide a decent script. Here, though, the actors are given adequate material -- barely -- and all (including Shatner) give solid performances. The initial confrontation between Shatner and Borgnine gives the impression of vast power held in restraint: the two colossal hams face each other, each apparently confident that he could out-do the other in sheer histrionics, but each keeping his performance well in control.
There are lesser luminaries in the cast, as well: the High Priest of Satan is portrayed by... er... the High Priest of Satan: Anton Szandor LaVey, who is also credited as "technical advisor" to the film. LaVey, the enigmatic founder of the Church of Satan, probably had better advice to give on showmanship than on demonic theology, for there's little arcane knowledge on display anywhere. In fact, the whole thing makes the Devil and his minions look like a bunch of dopes, all things considered. But LaVey probably drew a nice paycheck from his dual gig, and both he and the movie must have relished the publicity they gave each other. Sharing cameos with LaVey is "Hee Haw" honey Lisa Todd; how's that for innovative casting? The movie also features Claudio Brook, a familiar actor who showed up regularly in films by directors as diverse as Luis Buñuel and Juan Lopez Moctezuma, as well as movies including Santo in the Wax Museum and Crónos.
Now let's consider the crew: director Robert Fuest has at least one fine piece of work to his credit, namely The Abominable Dr. Phibes... though he was also responsible for dogs like Dr. Phibes Rises Again! and Revenge of the Stepford Wives. In Devil's Rain, Fuest shows a good eye for eerie detail. The opening scene, as the Preston family confonts a series of ghastly shocks during a torrential rainstorm, sets the tone of the film very well, and skilfully foreshadows the film's climax. Fuest's establishing shots of the ghost town in which much of the action takes place give a good sense of desolation. And the moment of dead silence which precedes the climax works very well, pausing the action like a deep breath, preparing the audience for one final plunge into horror.
Buried in the technical credits are some other fascinating names: Fuest's second unit director is none other than Rafael Portillo, most famous outside Mexico for his Aztec Mummy series. And let's not forget Terry Morse, Jr., son of Terry "Godzilla" Morse and himself a producer extraordinaire.
Finally, let's consider the film itself. On the whole, the movie looks pretty good (though I suppose almost anything looks good at 2.35:1). The opening credits play out over nightmare images from the paintings of Bosch, and the film's (somewhat overblown) Grand Finale recaptures some of the disturbing power of those images, even down to the color scheme. The movie's frequent plunges into darkness and grotesquerie are balanced by equally-unsettling images of the bright, open, inhospitable Western desert.
Borgnine plays Jonathan Corbis, an ancient warlock evidently patterned on Joseph Curwen from H.P. Lovecraft's Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Corbis was betrayed by one of his worshippers in the late 17th century. As all these witches and wizards seem to do, he vowed vengeance on the traitor's family in generations to come, even as the flames of the stake consumed him. We never find out exactly how he is reincarnated, though we're given hints in a flashback; as is often the case with movies like this, we must rely on our knowledge of other movies and books to fill in the blanks. In any case, it has something to do with rites and wax dolls.
Borgnine needs a book containing the signatures of those he lead into Satanism. Without the book, the souls of his followers can never be given to the Devil. Instead, they languish in a limbo like that described by Dante for those who are rejected alike by Heaven and Hell:
Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
were echoing across the starless air,
so that, as soon as I set out, I wept...
"Those who are here can place no hope in death,
And their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate."
tr. Alan Mandelbaum
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980)
(Why do I get the feeling you're not buying all this?)
All right, yes, it's never entirely clear why Corbis just can't take the book from its not-terribly-clever hiding place; and yes again, it's never made entirely clear why the Prestons insist on doing stupidly heroic solo missions to find out what Corbis is doing. Anyway, the Prestons come up against Corbis' congregation of damned souls, black-hooded zombies with eyes gone solid black. These zombies dissolve in water, leaving behind only a puddle of wax -- somehow when their bodies are deprived of their souls, they exchange material with the wax dolls that are used in the ceremonies. The connection between the dolls and the damned is never made clear, like most things in the film, but it does make for a spectacularly messy conclusion.
The DVD cover offers a few statements worth considering. The first is the tag line: "Heaven Help Us All When THE DEVIL'S RAIN". At first sight I was inclined to blame this meaningless statement on VCI (a company I have said some rather uncharitable things about in past reviews, though they came very close to redeeming themselves with their excellent Mario Bava releases); but unfortunately this was the actual tag for the film when it was released in 1975. What the hell is this supposed to mean? Should it have been "... when the Devils Reign"? That makes more sense, but The Devil's Reign is not the title of the film. Perhaps they made the common mistake of thinking the apostrophe is used in the plural, so that the line should read "... when the devils rain" down from the skies or something. But that doesn't make any sense either, because nowhere in the film does it "rain devils".
VCI does bear responsibility for the insane statement on the cover that states The Devil's Rain has "absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture ever!" I know what they're talking about, and it's not only the famous melting scene which takes up most of the last fifteen minutes of the film. It's that justly famous sequence and the wicked twist which concludes the film. It's a chilling and effective way to end the picture -- an appropriate, oddly satisfying way to end the picture -- but it is clearly not "the most incredible" etc., etc. It's a long way from the harrowing final scene of Bergman's Shame, for example, or the redemptive walk across the empty fountain in Tarkovsky's Nostalghia. Even as twist endings go, it has nothing on Citizen Kane, Night of the Living Dead or even Sixth Sense...
| ...on a slight tangent, and just among us horror fans, who of us didn't guess how that film was going to turn out when our breathless mainstream friends told us we wouldn't believe the ending? Yeah, I thought so. Sorry; where was I?
And yet, thinking of sixth senses, I still get the feeling you're not entirely convinced. Am I just looking for a contrary point of view, to prove my mettle as a critic? Am I overcompensating to justify my fondness for a crap film from my childhood? Maybe I am doing both, a little. But there's more to my liking for The Devil's Rain than the resurgence of the eleven-year-old in me, the part that still thinks Gamera movies are cool. Beyond the melty faces and Quentin McHale in a goat mask, there's a thoroughly sincere, deliberately paced horror film. Its story is admittedly trivial, and there are bits that will have you scratching your head if you think about them too long. But it's still an amazing, entertaining oddity. It makes no more claim to profundity than a ghost story told around a campfire, and like a campfire story, it will sit in your head long after the telling and give you the occasional chill... if you're not too jealous of your sophistication to allow it.
A final note. One of the most amazing things about it, which I haven't mentioned yet, is this: it's hard to imagine The Devil's Rain being any different had the ultra-exploitative Exorcist not been made two years earlier. For a mid-70's movie about devil-worship, that's incredible. And as a last-ditch effort to win you to my cause, I can promise you a sight that millions of people have craved since Battlefield Earth: John Travolta melting into a puddle of flesh-colored goo. All this, and Ernest Borgnine. Now do you believe me?
SEPTEMBER 16 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE DEVILS RAIN
Heaven help us all when THE DEVIL'S RAIN!
What the hell kind of bad grammar is that? Devil is being used as a possessive noun of a descriptive subject (DEVIL stressed as singular subject by the pronoun "the", possessing a thing, RAIN)! You can't use that as the context of a verb! It's not like they said THE DEVILS RAIN, which means a rain (verb) of devils (varmints, and "the" denoting a singular group or class as in "the fans" or "the mob").
Now you may think I'm splitting hairs or being far too pedantic for a plain old monster movie but I'm not. Because the actors frequently get the term THE DEVIL'S RAIN! all screwed up in the movie. At some points in the story they are clearly referring to the REIGN of ol' Scratch. This is the Devil's rain, not yours! At other times they mean that souls are going to rain down on the earth. This is the Devils Rain, a rain of devils (not possessive, but describing more than one devil)! Or maybe hellfire, or perhaps a hellfire of souls - it must be said, this movie is a freaking mess. Whenever you have a movie that claims to be a special effects extravaganza, it means the people who made it are a crew of incompetent clods who hope the SFX contractor can bail their pathetic asses out of their self-scuttled lifeboat.
But this movie does do some snazzy things with wax by golly! In one of the scenes, a person's face starts melting. Of course, its obvious that its just a wax mask. In fact, this dubious special effect is actually explained in the movie, that this is what happens to a person's face when their soul goes to Satan. Their face no longer looks quite right. They also lose their eyes. Not to worry though, it doesn't hurt them in getting around and seeing things. Except when that's necessary to the plot.
This is seriously ridiculous Horror of the So Bad its Good variety.
The story is all about the Preston family and their age long problems with Jonathon Corbis (Ernest Borgnine: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, DEADLY BLESSING) and his merry band of soulless miscreants. Jonathon was killed hundreds of years before for his wicked ways, but he came back to life cuz' he's just that damn evil! Plus he wants his book. Apparently he captured the souls of his eyeless crew by having them sign a book. And them dang ol' Preston's done stole his book! "Where's my cake, Bedelia?" So John wants his book and Mark Preston (William Shatner: INCUBUS, HORROR AT 37,000 FEET, IMPULSE, INVASION OF THE SPIDER KINGDOM, VISITING HOURS, AMERICAN PSYCHO II, GROOM LAKE) wants his kidnapped Mom back. But Jonathon is a wheeler dealer and wants the souls of the Preston family too. He challenges mark to match his faith against Jonathon's. Needless to say, Mark loses and that starts the whole movie.
EDDIE ALBERT LEFT GREEN ACRES FOR THIS?
The movie not only had quite a cast for its time, but quite a future cast. Tom Skerritt (ALIEN, THE DEAD ZONE, POLTERGEIST II, POISON IVY) plays the hero, Tom Preston who is trying to save his family. He gets advice from Dr. Sam Richards (Eddie Albert: HUSTLE, DREAMSCAPE) who is, no doubt, an expert in something, but hasn't got a clue about anything called The Devil's Rain. Tom's life is falling apart as one family member after the other falls to Jonathon's dubious charms. How does that rat bastard get away with it? In probably one of the cheesiest yet hilarious transformations ever, Jonathon reveals his true self by transforming into THE DEVIL! How he does this is too good to tell so I won't. Suffice it to say that you probably shouldn't have milk in your mouth when ol' Jonathon calls for the devil!
Other past stars or future stars include Keenan Wynn (THE MANIPULATOR, THE MECHANIC, THE INTERNECINE PROJECT, THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT DIE, THE DEMON AND THE MUMMY, ORCA, THE LUCIFER COMPLEX, LASERBLAST, PIRANHA, THE DARK, THE CLONUS HORROR) as the no-nonsense Sheriff Owen. Past her prime (for that time, now she's back in style) Ida Lupino (FOOD OF THE GODS) as Mama Preston. John Travolta (CARRIE, BLOW OUT, FACE/OFF, BATTLEFIELD EARTH), in a bit part as Danny.
Also in the film, because he had a cult satanic religion, is Anton LaVey (THE CAR) and his then wife, Diane. As with all movies ol' Anton had some influence in, his presence did nothing to make the movie scarier or anything else. So much for Satanism. Ha! Nyahh! Where's your evil God now, see? Nyahh!
Director Robert Fuerst (AND SOON THE DARKNESS, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, THE FINAL PROGRAMME), had his best days behind him by 1975. Too bad. Having a lack of story, the film takes its sweet ass time with lots of shots of barren desert, cars driving up a road until they make it to their destination, and so on.
This film is really about -
Ellis Burman (EMPIRE OF THE ANTS, PROPHECY) who did the hot wax make-up effects, coming hot right off of the TV trashy GARGOYLES.
But none of this matters. With three writers who've never made a name for themselves for their writing, and a lot of talent with nowhere to go, this movie was all on make-up artist Burman. Burman gave it a shot, but it just wasn't enough.
It is so unintentionally funny though. Between the long stretches of absolutely nothing happening that is. If I were you, I wouldn't buy it, but I'd definitely watch THE DEVIL'S RAIN!
Three Negative Shriek Girls.