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The Devil's Rain

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Fuest
Produced by James V. Cullen
Michael S. Glick
Written by James Ashton
Gabe Essoe
Gerald Hopman
Starring William Shatner
Ernest Borgnine
Tom Skerritt
John Travolta
Eddie Albert
Anton LaVey as Satan
Music by Al De Lory
Cinematography Alex Phillips Jr.
Distributed by Bryanston Distributing Company
Release date(s) 1975 (U.S. release)
Running time 86 min.
Language English

The Devil's Rain is a 1975 low-budget horror film, directed by Robert Fuest. The film is remembered primarily for its over-long and drawnout ending, in which most of the cast melts. It was one of several B-films in which William Shatner starred in the hiatus between the original Star Trek television series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Other familiar names in the cast included Tom Skerritt, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, and Keenan Wynn. The film was the second film to star actor John Travolta and William Shatner. The first being The Tenth Level also in 1975 which was the debut of John Travolta. John Travolta at the time was also beginning his role as Vinnie Barbarino in the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Satanist Anton LaVey is credited as the movie's technical advisor.

Contents

Plot summary

A curse hovers over the Preston family, caused by their betrayal of the Satanic priest John Corbis (Ernest Borgnine). Corbis has followed the Preston family for generations, in pursuit of a Satanic book through which he obtains great power. Corbis first captures the father, Steve Preston, who is allowed to escape home to warn his wife and younger son about Corbis's wrath, and to give the book to Corbis; this is done, at which point Steve Preston then melts into a waxy substance, apparently melting in the rain.

Mark Preston (Shatner) takes the book, hoping to meet with Corbis and defeat him. The two eventually meet in a ghost town in the desert, where Corbis gives Preston a drink of water from an old hand-pumped well; Shatner's character drinks and then spits it out, proclaiming the water to be bitter. Borgnine smiles and replies, "Sweet way to end a thirst, though." Following that, Preston challenges Corbis to a battle of faith, which ends with Preston pulling a 1911 .45 pistol on Corbis.

Corbis asks, "Is THAT your faith?" at which point Preston tries to escape. Surrounded by satanists, Preston pulls out his cross, which then appears to transform into a snake, and is discarded by Preston. He is promptly captured by the Satanic followers of Corbis. Corbis later begins a ceremony which wipes Mark's memory clean with the "water of forgetfulness" in preparation for a ceremony later that evening with the Devil himself. Preston's older brother, Tom (Tom Skerritt), and his wife Julie, have gone to look for younger brother Mark; they are accompanied by Dr. Sam Richards (Albert), a psychic researcher.

Tom witnesses his brother's total conversion to a Satanic puppet in a ceremony in which Corbis is so completely taken over by the devil that he transforms into a goat-like being. Tom is discovered but escapes the Satanists, and later meets up with Richards at the Satanic church, where they discover the source of Corbis's power—a porcelain container known as The Devil's Rain, which contains the souls of Corbis's converts.

Corbis and the Satanists then arrive at the church, and Richards threatens to destroy the Devil's Rain, which he then does, and makes good his escape.

The Satanists melt in the rain as a storm rages as Tom and his wife make a hasty exit. As Tom holds his wife, the audience discovers that it is actually Corbis he is embracing and his wife's soul has become trapped within a new Devil's Rain.

Response

The Devil's Rain received a uniformly negative critical response, with the chief complaint being the incoherent storyline. The film's refusal to provide adequate scares was also widely criticized. Vincent Canby in the New York Times noted that "The Devil's Rain is ostensibly a horror film, but it barely manages to be a horror...It is as horrible as watching an egg fry."[1] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times said "All of this would be good silly fun if the movie weren't so painfully dull. The problem is that the material's stretched too thin. There's not enough here to fill a feature-length film."[2]

The movie's disastrous reception arguably killed off director Fuest's career. Fuest had previously directed The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), and The Final Programme (1973). The Devil's Rain suffered such a critical drubbing that Fuest immediately was forced to retreat to television, directing several nondescript TV-movies and series episodes over the years. He has made only one additional theatrical feature, Aphrodite (1982), a softcore sex romp shot in Greece.

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