Retro Review: ‘The Devil’s Rain’

In Hollywood there is no magic recipe for a hit. In fact you can load down a movie with tons of talent both in front of and behind the camera and the final product can still be a commercial and critical failure. Those responsible for such pictures can take solace in the fact that some of them can find success among a cult fringe. Such was the case concerning the legacy of the 1975’s The Devil’s Rain.

Mark Preston is the son of a family cursed by a Satanic cult leader, Corbis due to their possession of a powerful book. When his father is melted into a puddle of goo on a dark and stormy night, Mark has had enough and drives into the desert to confront Corbis once and for all. This leads to him becoming captured by the devil-worshippers with his only hope of rescue coming from his older brother Tom who is scouring the desert, but when he does find them he learns the awful truth about the power of the Devil’s Rain.

As mentioned before this was a film loaded with talent. In the mere opening credits alone you see names like: Ernest Borgnine, Ida Lupino, William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Eddie Albert and John Travolta in his cinematic debut. Behind the camera you have the then promising filmmaker Robert Fuest, fresh off the success of The Abominable Dr. Phibes and its sequel. With the best financial resources a Mafia deal allowed the producers could secure things look promising. Despite the best effort of so many involved the end product is an absolute mess. The script throws the audience into the midst of the action from the opening credits, which while it provides a sense of excitement it leaves viewers scratching their heads for much of the movie as they are playing catch-up right from the word “Go”. That being said the sight of a melting man in the pouring down rain is a good jolt. While the plot is a mess and never explains why this book Corbis wants is so damn important, the flick is incredibly entertaining. The highlight of the whole ordeal is easily Borgnine who cranks things up to the Nth degree. The Oscar winner manages to make Shatner look subdued in his performance as he rants and carries on, even turning into the devil in a burst of flame at a few times. In the climactic sacrifice scene, he even gets an assist from Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey who is rewarded as an advisor on the picture with a cameo.

While waxy faced-occultists led by an over-the-top Ernest Borgnine may not be scary it can be at times quite funny. Like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, this is the kind of movie where they are constantly throwing so much at you that one never really has the time to sit back and go “What the hell is even going on? None of this makes sense”. While it could have been forgotten to time the pure unintentional silliness of it all has allowed the Devil’s Rain to continue on in some form of popularity.