When the always amazing Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl described the titillating cinematic experience of The Devil's Rain as 'satantastic' and that Ernest 'The Fucking Man' Borgnine would be sporting (sprouting?) goat horns, I immediately updated my NetFlix queue and promptly pushed it to the top of the heap. During the opening credits, over ominously toned music mixed with phil-humonic (AKA human) screams, coupled with some Paradise Lost-style art, one is giddied with glee upon finding out the guilty parties involved: William 'I like to break up my vocal delivery with unnecessary interstices' Shatner, Tom 'I once made out with Drew Barrymore in the rain' Skerritt and John 'I must have made this before I went cuckoo for Scientology Puffs' Travolta. If that buffet of manliness wasn't enough, creative direction and oversite is provided by one Mr. Anton 'I have a direct line to the guy who lives south of heaven' Lavey. Yes, I know what you are thinking. How come I haven't heard of this gem before? Anywhos, let's hop to it.
A stormy night in a worried household leads to The Shat coming home, telling his mom that the bridge leading out of town is wiped out and his father is nowhere to be found. The caretaker of the house tries to calm them both down when there is an unexpected noise that comes from outside. Tearing out of the front door, Willie boy discovers his melting faced dad with hollowed out eyes. His father claims that 'they have found us' and all must be done to safeguard 'the book'. He then does his best impersonation of the Wicked Witch of the West. The mother claims to of had a series of dreams over the past couple of nights and that a man named Corbis who's in search of the book has taken residence in an old mining town nearby. Taking an amulet his mother gave him (subsequently finding out that the book is being kept hidden within the floor boards of the house), The Shat heads out in search of this Corbis character.
So The Shat reaches the mining town and upon stopping in front of an old church, he comes upon Borgnine who immediately claims to be Corbis and promptly asks for the book. When Shat refuses, he challenges him to a duel between both of their gods and leads him into the church where a group of robed peeps with the same hollowed out eyes are chanting Kalimah!! Kalimah!! Oh wait, wrong flick. Any who's it, basically it boils down to which god exists? Your god that protects you with an amulet or mine that dwells in darkness and can turn said amulet into a snake? Given that Lavey is providing creative direction, guess who wins out?
Doctor Skerritt (who we come to find out is a brother to The Shat) likes to experiment on his wife along with his partner, putting her into various states of psychosis. In a moment of deep meditation, his wife screams when she sees visions of the church and a robed Ernie Borg. A particularly silly scene ensues when Skerritt leans over and says 'Something has happened to my family' and they quickly skedaddle. Screw your crazy visions, its go time! They then head on out to the mining town to see what's the dillio.
Getting into town, they investigate the house where mom and pop lived. The sheriff exclaims that the terrible storm the night before must have dragged dear ol' mum away as she can't be found. Skerritt says, 'F-that' and decides to do some detective work of his own. He and his wife head out and start to investigate the inside of the church, only to be startled by the sound of their car bursting into flames. Upon exiting, they are almost ran over by a maniac driving the same car that Shat drove into town with. They watch as the car crashes into the front porch of a nearby house and then follow the driver who's left the car and ran into the home. Skerritt enters the house and runs up stairs, engaging the man at the top, and both of them tumble downwards. The wife meets them at the bottom and she is instantly hypnotized by the man's eyes that are hollowed out. As she becomes transfixed, a series of flash backs occur, revealing that the book Borgnine is seeking contains the names of all the people that he converted to satanism back in the days of Quaker Oats (AKA pilgrims). The book has all of the names written in blood and with the finding of the book, the souls (which still inhabit the earth) that belong to Satan, can finally be released. You with me?
After telling his wife to get the hell out of dodge, Skerritt disguises himself as one of the robed satanists and follows the group out to the desert where they are planning to sacrifice The Shat. In an incredibly laugh out loud moment, Borgnine summons his powers and calls for the lord of darkness to consume him, turning him into a billy goat gruff face.
Skerritt thwarts the attempt to kill Shat and is chased back to the church. His partner doctor friend has by this time met up with him to find out what all the hububb is about. They both uncover a hidden latch in the floors of the church which gives way to a secret storage where all the souls are kept. The actual container looks like a cross between one of those cheap character statues you find in Tijuana and a chiminea. So of course Skerritt's partner has the good sense to bring the book with him and when goat faced Ernie asks to give it here, it prompts one final standoff with Borg and the rest of the hollowed out eye clan.
All in all, a pretty mind numbingly dumb affair but the actors are so ridiculously committed (especially with The Shat and Borgnine giving waaaaaaaay over the top performances), you can't help but love this film. The dialogue and exchanges between the both of them were hysterical. Oh, and I forgot to mention the flashback scene which showed the origins of the book and Corbis as he was set up to be burned alive at the stake. He goes into this long dialogue about how the sun sets, the moon rises, the sun rises again, the cock crows, but evil will always remain, and May the Force Be With You. OK, nevermind that last part. But the scene was uproariously funny. The special effects that are used when the father and the rest of the hollowed out eye clan start to melt in the rain, are right up Mr. Sam Raimi's alley. Maybe the film influenced him? Highly speculating here. But I digress.
Rent this or steal it ASAP. This movie is pure cinematic gold.
Cortez the Killer