Monday, July 9, 2012

REVIEW: The Devil's Rain

The Devil’s Rain
Director: Robert Fuest
Year 1975
The Devil’s Rain is a deliciously devilish and atmospherically heavy horror film that features a tone and ambiance that lies thick throughout its ominous narrative. Infused with an abundance of striking imagery and equally mesmerizing locations, the movie showcases a satanic cult filled with eyeless members and a leader who can shape-shift into a goat-man. How can you go wrong? With its horror roots planted and its unsettling story set up, The Devil’s Rain is a haunting and often disturbing little gem that frightens as well as it entertains.
The film is centered around a satanic cult in the middle of rural America, who has been terrorizing the Preston family and causing all sorts of odd things to happen. After his mother is kidnapped by the cult, Mark Preston sets out to locate their whereabouts, which leads him to a seemingly abandoned church in the middle of a decaying ghost town. As Mark begins to search for his mother within this deserted town, his estranged brother Tom Preston notices that his wife is having strange dreams about his family being in danger. Being curious and worried over their overall safety, Tom decides to travel back home to make sure everything is ok. When he arrives, he is greeted by strange stories of satanic cults and melting eyeless people who dissolve in rain, making for a reunion that is anything but pleasant. Armed with a rifle and accompanied by his psychic wife, Tom sets off to retrace his brother’s footsteps in the hopes that he can bring his mother and Mark back while taking out the satanic cult that started all of this mess. Sounds good to me! Let it rain!

William Shatner plays the role of Mark Preston while Tom Skerritt takes on the role of his brother Tom Preston. The two bring a great dynamic to the film and interestingly enough, they never share the screen together aside from a few strangely set-up scenes that serve to be some of the film’s most chilling moments. I’ve always enjoyed Shatner’s acting style, be it his science fiction characters, horror performances, or even his ridiculous commercial stints, and with The Devil’s Rain he brings that obscurely charismatic nature to his character that has always been a staple of his career. Tom Skerritt also does a commendable job with the role of Tom Preston, the hero of the picture. His introduction in the film comes later in the movie and it feels quite jarring, but when he gets into the groove with all that is going on in the story, he quickly becomes an integral part of the story which aids in pushing the narrative along as it delves into this mysterious cult. Like Shatner, I’ve always enjoyed Skerritt’s body of work in the film industry and his constant output of quality films is nothing less then stellar. Add The Devil’s Rain to the list if you haven’t already. Rounding out the good guys is Joan Prather who perfectly hands the role of Julie Preston, Tom Preston’s wife and professional psychic. The character of Julie is a difficult one as it demands for the actor playing it to really emote both horrified expressions and contemplative moments while at the same time performing in the subtlest of ways. I believe Joan handled it perfectly and her doe-eyed stare and beautiful looks haunted the film all the way up to its horrific conclusion.   
As for the main antagonist of the film, all the credit goes to Ernest Borgnine as he brings the pain as Jonathan Corbis AKA the Satanic Goat Man. As leader of the cult and the only really functioning member of its ranks, Borgnine knocks it out of the park as he delivers an entertaining performance for the ages. He combines both wildly over the top acting measures and enigmatic style to his characters, and with the case of Jonathan Corbis, the man has created one memorable cinematic bastard. Soaked in evil and cocky as the devil himself, Borgnine makes sure to creep us out at every turn. I really enjoyed his performance in this film, be it a little off the wall, and when he transforms into a half-goat, half-man, he doesn’t look half bad. Here’s to an actor who has created so many cinematic memories that you could fill a book up with all of his outstanding portrayals. R.I.P. Borgnine.

As for the film itself, the movie is an atmospheric gem which features some brilliant cinematography and a slew of breathtaking vistas that highlight the beautiful American rural landscape. The setting is perfect for the story, and the filmmakers make good use of the desolate and lonely locations, often allowing the visual look of the film and the surrounding scenery to tell the story. The town in which the satanic cult calls home is especially creepy and its overall barren look has an abundance of foreboding style in which the film just allows to soak over the audience. The overall feel of the movie is unsettling, and I think that is what I like most about the film. There is a strange quality to it that speaks volumes on the subject matter that the film is covering and the combination of both location and the topical theme of the movie is what really makes this cinematic effort a horror gem.
On top of that, the film also boasts an array of creepy effects that, though dated, are practical and downright disturbing. From eyeless cult members, to disgusting depictions of melting people, to Borgnine’s transformation into the goat beast, the film has an impressive line-up of some excruciatingly horrific effects that really combine well with the tone of the film. One of the most memorable moments of the movie has to be the end sequence where we are given an overdramatic depiction of the demise of each and every cult member as they melt into oblivion. The scene is grotesquely wonderful as it focuses on the agony of the moment, never shying away from the mournful cries and unsettling imagery that comes along with twenty odd people perishing in a wild fit of rage and sadness. The sequence is beautifully shot as it conveys an eerie quality that just captures the strangeness of the final moments of the film. With this climactic scene, the movie ends on a dire and sour note, but one that perfectly reflects the film’s obscure tone and overwhelming atmosphere.

The Devil’s Rain is a horror film that just relishes in that 70’s satanic cult wave of insanity that swept the nation during the time period it was produced. With its hasty introduction to the story, where we are dropped right in to the thick of this obscure cinematic world, and the interesting portrayal and mythology that this satanic cult brings to the table, you really can’t deny the haunting presence that this film provides. With a mixture that just seems to work even despite factors like Ernest Borgnine turning into a goat man of all things, the movie is an obscure wonder that contains its “crazy” within its wildly constructed realm.
The cast is immensely impressive, with William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Joan Prather, and Ernest Borgnine turning out some tremendously entertaining performances. Hell, the film is so jam packed with stars that John Travolta of all people plays a random cult member. Add onto this the visual prowess of the production and you’ve got yourself one hell of a satanic yarn. Not only is the story quite interesting, but the execution and application of practical effects elevates this movie to compelling heights. When it comes to satanic cult movies, you really have to nail that tone and atmosphere and The Devil’s Rain does that to perfection. This film is so damn……

Holy shit! Someone get this guy some Visine!

The hills are alive.... with the sound of Satan.

William Shatner is the Marlboro Man.

What's with the life preserver kid? You jump ship?

Borgnine can really rock a robe.

Check out my bling homies.

Your mustache ain't shit Skerritt!

It looks like the perfect wedding chapel.... for SATAN!

I'd recognize that beautiful butt-chin anywhere. Travolta!

I'm coming for you Borgnine!

Check out that back-seat driver.


The key to destroying Goat Boy is in this book.... Too bad neither of us can read.

That's the coolest damn easter egg I've ever seen!

Never insult this dude's mustache. He's freakin nuts!

Rock on Borgnine! Rock on!

Goat Boy is really sweating up a storm. Damn that P90X is tough!

Church is out... for.... ever!

No comments:

Post a Comment