In the early days, Siskel and Ebert use to feature a segment called ‘Dogs of the Week’, in which they spotlighted the week’s worst movies. The purpose was to keep you from spending your hard-earned money on some piece of garbage tossed out by fast-buck movie execs. Well . . . it didn’t work because I’m reviewing all of them. So, here we go.
by Jerry Dean Roberts
Who reviewed it: Gene
Was he right?: Yes
Body Count: Too many to count (or care to count)
Let’s talk for a moment about marketing. There’s a difference between selling and shilling and I suppose some would argue that you can’t have one without the other. But there’s a line, and that line was definitely crossed by the producers of The Devil’s Rain.
When it comes to The Devil’s Rain, it was all about market shilling. The studio that produced this movie pulled out all the stops to get your butt into the theater. They pushed not only Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine but also William Shatner and Tom Skeritt – good actors. And if that wasn’t enough the trailer also provides the information that the movie was made with the help and cooperation of Church of Satan founder Anton LeVey (which the trailer spells “Lavay”).
Also, it should be mentioned, John Travolta. The movie was made in 1975 before “Welcome Back Kotter” and Saturday Night Fever made him the hottest star in the country. He’s in this movie. It’s his feature film debut. BUT he’s behind a mask and he is only on screen for about four seconds. YET, there was a huge ad campaign to release this picture touting him as the star.
I’m not sure that Travolta would have even cared. While the trailer is a goldmine of schlock, the movie is like a trip to the dentist. It involves a group of 300 year-old Satan worshippers who are reincarnated forms of their ancestors. Back in the
good bad old days, a well-meaning women betrayed the group by stealing their all-important prayer book which was signed by each member in their own blood (nobody had a pen!?) For this, they were all burned at the stake. Years later, Ernest Borgnine has risen again and only needs said all-important-prayer-book in order to control those under his command.
Borgnine does commit to this role, even when he disappears into great puffs of smoke and then comes back looking like a kangaroo goat. He has a lot of great lines, of which my favorite is “I command this soul to be purified by fire and water.” I’m thinking: which is it? Fire or water? You can’t have both. Maybe its a steam bath.
The actual devil’s rain does eventually fall onto Borgnine’s followers and they all begin to melt . . . and melt and melt and melt and melt and melt. Five or ten minutes go by and we’re still watching people melt. For the viewer, restlessness turns to irritation. Irritation turns to frustration. Frustration turns to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering, which is exactly what this movie is. Get me the Hell outta here!