Directed by: Robert Fuest
Premise: A pair of brothers (William Shatner and Tom Skerritt) must defend their family against a satanic cult.
What Works: The Devil’s Rain is an effectively moody cult film from the 1970s. Released at a time when satanically themed films were popular box office draws, The Devil’s Rain holds its own with most of the high profile films of its day such as The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen. The film bridges southern Gothic with European horror, and The Devil’s Rain creates an atmosphere of dread with creepy visuals and a minimalist music score. The cinematography is really impressive in this film and The Devil’s Rain uses the Western landscape very effectively which supports the cosmic conflict of the story. The Devil’s Rain also features make up effects that were quite impressive at the time of the film’s release and mostly hold up quite well. The scenes of occult rituals are staged, lit, and edited well and have a lot of showmanship to their choreography. Aside from the cinematic craft and the haunted house appeal, The Devil’s Rain is fun to watch for its high profile cast including William Shatner and Tom Skerritt as brothers who combat the cult, Ernest Borgnine as the cult leader, Keenan Wynn as the sheriff, John Travolta as one of the cult members, and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey as a satanic priest.
What Doesn’t: As the casting and premise imply, The Devil’s Rain is hammy and with a side of cheese. That is part of the appeal of the film and appreciated for what it is, The Devil’s Rain gets the job done, but no one should confuse this with the mainstream Hollywood films that some of the cast were later associated with.
DVD extras: The Dark Sky Films DVD release includes a commentary track, news reel footage with Anton LaVey, a trailer, radio spots, and a stills gallery.
Bottom Line: The Devil’s Rain is a creepy occult thriller. Although some elements of it have dated, the film is fun and makes for a good late night viewing.
Episode: #304 (September 5, 2010)