Sunday, 6 September 2009

Final Girl Film Club - The Devil's Rain

Title: The Devil’s Rain
Director: Robert Fuest
Released: 1975
Staring: Ernest Borgnine, Tom Skerritt, Joan Prather, Eddie Albert, William Shatner, Ida Lupino

Rating: 1.5 / 5
Plot: When Mark Preston’s (Shatner) father goes missing, only to suddenly turn up demanding that the family give Corbis (Borgine) what he wants, Mark sets off on a journey to the desert town of Devils Rain, only to be captured, along with his mother Emma (Lupino) by Corbis. Now their only hope rests with his brother Tom (Skerritt) and Occult Expert Dr. Richards (Albert) as they prepare for a final showdown.

Review: It’s funny to think I was in such a great place with my life, what with my wedding only a month away (31st October) and my first hell spawn on the way, let alone the fact the blog is still going strong nine months after I first started out with an urge to write about the films I adore as well as those that I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered with, even along the way picking up the occasional comment from you like minded folks, who take the time to read these reviews. So yeah things were going pretty good…… until this movie came along, so thank you Stacey, and your “Final Girl Film Club” which is pretty much responsible for me sitting down to watch this film which looked quite promising from the outset, after all it features William “F’ing” Shatner, a man who usually can salvage even the most car crash of ideas and at the least make the outcome slightly humorous….kind of a shame that it didn’t happen here, as at more than one point I truly felt that I had found my own version of “The Manipulator” (1971) which Stacey herself deemed unreviewable, to the point were she didn’t even finish the film, which I actually managed to beat, by sitting through this film to the end, even if the final fifteen minutes, I watched after a brief break in viewing in a vain attempt to retain what was left of my sanity.

Ok surprisingly enough this film starts off pretty strong and I actually thought that I might have found another film to add to the collection, like I did with my last contribution to the film club, were we looked at Fulci’s “The Beyond” (1981), which as surreal a film as it was to watch, still turned out to be a pretty good film and it was a vibe I was getting here, especially with the creepy opening score by Al De Lory accompanied by the wails of what I assume to be tortured souls in hell, but this creepiness was really cranked up by Fuest, who chooses to play this over a slideshow of paintings by Heironymus Bosch, which proves to be more than a little unsettling and really prevents the audience any chance of settling into a comfort zone, something that is further reinforced by the fact that your barely ten minutes into the film, before your watching Mark’s father melting into a waxy puddle, after appearing suddenly minus his eyes and demanding that Mark and his Mother give Corbis what he wants! It certainly grabs your attention, as we now set off following Mark, as he prepares to confront Corbis. Sadly it seems that upon getting the attention of his audience, Fuest now doesn’t know what to do next and hence the film, suddenly starts to down spiral with the key moment being when Mark’s brother is suddenly introduced abruptly, making me wonder “Who the hell is this guy and why are we not watching Shatner?” and this also were I lost interest in this film, as Tom is not as interesting a character as Mark, even if he does have a psychic wife, whose psychic ability is really brought into question, when she couldn’t even see the Satanist hiding in the backseat of her car, which I think it’s safe to say that she didn’t see that one coming. Infact her only real role is to fill in the gaps in the back story, which seemed all too similar to that of Reverend Kane in Poltergeist 2 (1986), but were as Julian Beck was creepy as hell, Borgnine is about as threatening as a squashed frog, especially as he plays the character of Corbis the same as every other character he’s played and even when in goat-man form, he’s still none the more threatening, as he burbles away with Satanic quotations and generally spends the whole film chasing Tom around the town, which grows old pretty quick.

So after a strong start and a really dull middle section, it might seem that there is really nothing worth sitting through this film for, especially as Shatner is at this point also missing his eyes and generally mumbling to himself, like a crazy person. Thankfully it seems that Fuest seems to have at least thought of this as the film ends with an amazing meltdown sequence, which really makes the melting Nazi’s at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) seem pretty timid (despite mildly traumatising me as a kid) and obviously releasing that the melting scene at the start of the film is what everyone liked, so the ending is pretty much the same thing again, just on a larger scale and it

As dull a film as it is, it does at least have a few interesting bits of trivia attached to it, such as Satanic High Priest Anton LaVey, who was not only brought on an advisor for this film, but also makes an appearance as a satanic priest, but good luck if you can spot him, much like John Travolta who gained his first screen credit with this film. With LaVey attached to the film, it makes it all the more surprising that the film is so ropey, especially in terms of the Satanist aspect as they come off more laughable than threatening. It kind of in a way brings into question how legit LaVey’s beliefs were in Satan, seeing how I always felt that it was a hoax religion, lead by a man of obvious high intelligence created to basically windup the Christian community and this film only helped to reinforce these beliefs.

There are some fans who might claim that this film is more effective, when looked at in context to its original year of release, when the majority of the population were terrified of Satanists living in the community and the youth devil worshiping and true it might be one of the better Satanist movies, but even when looked at in context to it’s original release it is still an extremely ropey movie at best and one that will test the devotion of even the biggest fan of Shatner. Still I have to go to the Dentist today, so it will be fun to see which is the more fun experience … literally.

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