The Devil’s Rain (1975)
Reviewed on 2006 October 26
I’m a sucker for old, cheesy horror movies, especially at this time of year. I’m willing to make allowances for less-than-spectacular special effects if it’s got an ingenious plot and good acting. This little gem from the 1975 fails the first test. The main special effect seems to be people being turned into silly putty. You see this in the first five minutes, by the way, so it’s not like I’m really letting the cat out of the bag here.
Filmed in Etch A Sketch®, it’s the story of Mark Preston (William Shatner playing his usual noisy self) battling against a coven of devil-worshippers led by Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine plays a cheerfully evil Jonathan Corbis, and I have to give him a lot of credit just because you can tell the guy is having such good time with this crap. If the picture had taken a different turn he would have made a great sleazy politician. The showdown starts in an old church in the middle of nowhere. The church is suitably beat-up and innocuous looking on the outside but chock-a-block with baphomets and other creepy-looking artifacts from Alistair Crowley’s garage sale on the inside, and this leads me to another squabble. These people parted with their souls. You’d think for an exchange like that someone in the group would have enough business acumen to ask for property in Vegas instead of a crummy building in a freaking cow pasture. Corbis has big plans for Shatner, who is not just a loud pain in his side, but has a book he needs to finish his job of harvesting souls for his boss. His quarrel with Preston’s clan apparently goes back many years, but that’s fine; it gives the director a chance to trot out a mix of guest stars and budding talent. One caveat — don’t watch this with food in your mouth. I’d hate to see someone laugh and choke. Just wait for the snow globe from hell!
I’ll still give this thing a chocolate morsel, just because Borgnine seemed to get such a kick out of it and because no, I didn’t predict the final little sucker-punch at the end.