Borgnine! Shatner! Skerritt! Er…Travolta? “The Devil’s Rain” is a real curate’s egg of a movie, if the curate is a goat-worshipping Satanist with a penchant for cheesy, overwrought and overacted B-movies.
When satanist cult leader Corbis (Borgnine) is burnt alive by the local church he vows to come back to hunt down and enslave every descendant of his congregation using a Satanic book in the possession of the Preston family. Steve Preston, the family patriarch, manages to escape to warn his wife and younger son Mark (Shatner) about Corbis’ wrath but during a supernatural rainstorm, he melts away into a waxy goo. Mark sets out to confront Corbis, using the book as bait but disappears, leaving his older brother Tom (Skerritt) to come looking for him.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Ernest Borgnine in goat make-up, then this is the movie for you. The storyline is utterly incoherent and feels like it was only assembled in the editing room from the available footage rather than plotted out in any way, shape or form. For a supposed horror movie, it’s astonishingly light on scares and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, isn’t even silly enough to be entertaining. Who knew devil worship could be this dull?
While it may not have enough about it to be considered a genuine cult favourite, it’s not through lack of trying given its about a cult, it had input from an actual real-life cult leader (Anton LaVey) and features the theatrical debut of John Travolta who would go on to become a high-profile member of a real-life cult himself.
Ironically for such a boring film, it actually holds a deep and abiding place in the horror movie hall of fame: “Halloween” wouldn’t have been the same without this film. It’s for “The Devil’s Rain” that the cast of William Shatner’s face was made. A cast that would go on to be used to create a Captain Kirk mask and eventually be turned inside out and painted white to bring John Carpenter’s shape to chillingly impassive life.
It’s a tedious 90 minutes to sit through for that little nugget of movie history, although it does at least reward your tolerance with a face-meltingly spectacular finale that puts the ‘goo’ in ‘good god, that’s a lot of practical effects work’!