Horror Movie A Day: Quint melts in THE DEVIL’S RAIN (1975) Who calls me from out of the pit?!?
Published at: Oct. 4, 2008, 1:10 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
Man, is this movie a ball of fun or what?
It’s absolutely ludicrous, but goddamn… there are melting faces, Goat-heads, Satanists, eye-less faces, magic books, Puritan flashbacks, ESP, bell-bottoms and William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine trying to out-act each other.
Yes, all that mixed together gives you a crazy-awesome movie.
Basically what you have is a cult leader named Corbis (Borgnine) who was betrayed by one of his followers’ wives… I think. I mean, in the flashback we see the whole thing and everybody is burned at the stake, but Borgnine is able to give his young son the dark materials and hide him from the Christian mob… so the assumption is that the Corbis we see in the modern day is his descendant, but it’s not made clear.
We also see Shatner in the flashback as well and we know that the modern day Shatner is his descendant, so I don’t know for sure what the hell is up, but that’s a very silly thing to get caught up on in a movie with 15 minutes of melting faces.
Anyway, Flashback-Shatner’s wife betrays the cult in Puritan days and steals a book which contains the contracts of all the followers, signed in blood, condemning their souls to Satan’s keeping. The Christians as thanks, betray her as well, burning her along with the rest, but not before Borgnine levels a curse at her and her descendants.
Now Modern Day (‘70s) Borgnine is still after the book and has located the family, now headed by Ida Lupino. After a brief introductory scene, Lupino is taken and her son, Mark (Shatner), goes to rescue her.
Now, you think Shatner’s the lead at this point. He shows up to this deserted mining town and is met by an affable, smiling Borgnine in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat. They recognize each other and decide on a contest of faith, Shatner’s faith in Christ vs. Borgnine’s faith in Satan, which is determined during a black mass.
Surprisingly, Shatner loses and 30 plus minutes into the movie we switch focus to Tom Skerritt, Shatner’s brother, and his psychic wife (Joan Prather) who now investigate the disappearance of his mother and now brother.
There are recognizable faces during this journey, including Keenan Wynn in a bit part as a Sheriff and John Travolta in his real first big screen appearance (not CARRIE, which came out after this movie), as an eye-less cult follower.
Which is a great effect, by the way. Every single cultist (minus Borgnine himself) has empty eye-sockets and it’s a goddamn creepy effect. Really disturbing stuff… and these cult members melt under varying conditions, especially during the big finale. That, as well, is a creepy effect.
Unfortunately, the melty-faces wear out their welcome when you realize they had a 70 minute movie and decided to put 15 minutes of melting faces at the end. It really does go on and on and on and on and on and on and on.
But still, when my biggest complaint with the filmmaking of this picture is that there’s too many melting faces, that’s not really a big complaint.
Final Thoughts: This is an odd, extremely fun movie. As a side-note, Michael Kahn edited this film. Kahn has been Spielberg’s editor since CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Also, this film had founder of the Satanic Church Anton LaVey as a “technical advisor.” This flick is a lot of fun with Shatner going as far out as you could want “Corbis! God… DAMN you!” and Borgnine playing the lead with an insane glee in his eye. Not to mention a crazy goat prosthetic he wears for a couple of scenes… I don’t know how anybody couldn’t get enjoyment out of this film, whether you think it’s intentionally entertaining or not.
Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October:
Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here!
Good, now I’m caught up. If I were to try to connect these films like my regular AMAD list, I’d follow this up with director Robert Fuest’s DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, but since we’re doing a random draw… Let’s go ahead and pull the title for tomorrow so anybody interested can follow along!
Tomorrow we will watch:
Wow, that’s actually a great follow-up to this movie. Cult movie to Cult movie. See you tomorrow for that!