THE DEVIL’S RAIN stars William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine, Tom Skerritt, Ida Lupino, Eddie Albert and Keenan Wynn, with John Travolta making his film debut (in a small role) – plus Anton LaVey, the real-life founder of the Church of Satan, playing… a High Priest of the Church of Satan!
Where to start with this film?
Plot-wise it’s about the leader of a satanic cult wanting to get his hands on a book that was taken from him hundreds of years earlier. But, basically, the story’s a mess: it begins seemingly mid-way through the tale. Then, at around halfway into the movie, the storyline starts to actually make sense, when we get a flashback set in puritan times. Adding to the confusion, William Shatner seems set to be the plot’s main protagonist, but then he gets sidelined and Tom Skerritt takes over as the lead.
But don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to like with this flick too.
Firstly, it looks great, set in a midwest ghost town, providing director Robert (THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES) Fuest the opportunity to film some impressively parched, widescreen vistas. Secondly, Ernest Borgnine has a great time playing the cult leader Corbis and, finally, there are lots of Tom Burman-produced prosthetic FX!
We get cult members with empty eye sockets, we get Corbis becoming a goat-faced devil and we get an extended finale crammed with body-melt footage, as the faces and hands of the cultists liquify, with coloured gunge flowing from their sockets.
Oh, and when the cultists are shot, they bleed white fluid instead of blood!
Incoherent plot aside, THE DEVIL’S RAIN is schlocky fun (and, let’s face it… we all watch this movie for the endless scenes of melting during the finale!)
The HALLOWEEN link…
The face-cast made of William Shatner, that was part of the process to create his ‘eyeless’ prosthetics in THE DEVIL’S RAIN, was later used by Don Post Studios as the basis for their mass-produced Captain Kirk mask. It was one of these store-bought Shat masks that was then worn by Michael Myers in the ace John Carpenter slasher movie HALLOWEEN (1978)!