My Sort-Of Review of The Devil’s Rain, starring a cast of wow. Really. UPDATED with picture!

16 Nov

from November 11, 2008

Awhile back, (OK, yesterday.) I ran down a list of William Shatner’s movie credits (Shatner’s motto: If someone took the time to type it, the script must be good) and mentioned 1975’s The Devil’s Rain. I’ve seen this film. Odds are you didn’t. I didn’t just pluck that nugget out of his imdb page. I know that film.

Here is the cast, such as it is. (Or “here is the cast, such as they are.” Depends on which side of the plural/singular cast aisle you fall on. I understand many women swing both ways, so to speak.)

William Shatner-  What can I say that I didn’t cover in my last blog? I can say that he also starred in an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man with Lee Majors. During the filming of that particular episode, the combination of the Majors/Shatner acting ability was so profound that only the presence of Sir Laurence Oliver filming next door was able to positively balance their negative thespian forces and counteract an acting black hole that would have engulfed Hollywood. (Some say it already did.)

John Travolta– This was his acting debut. He played a deformed devil worshiper who wore a cloak and stayed in the shadows. His one and only line was near the end, when sunlight hit his face and it melted. “The light! The light! It burns! It burns!” was his sole line of dialogue. This was widely considered the end of his career.

 Ernest Borgnine– (AKA Ernest Nine of The Borg) While I’m sure you know him best as the voice of Mermaid Man in 8 episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, Mr. Borgnine also managed to carve out a niche as an actor. I remember him best in The Dirty Dozen. (That’s it. No joke here. Move along.)

Tom Skerritt- He’s the guy Kirstie Alley wanted to marry for his money in Cheers. He was the captain of the Nostromo in Alien. He also starred in Picket Fences and made so many other good career choices that damn it, I can’t make fun of him. What the hell was he doing in The Devil’s Rain??????

Eddie Albert- YES! Now here’s one I can sink my teeth into! He went from Oliver Douglas, gentleman farmer in Green Acres to devil worshiper. He went from talking to pigs (Arnold Ziffle) to sacrificing them. (Yes, I was going to make an Eva Gabor/pig joke, but in the interest of discretion I’ll not tell you the actual joke. But I have no problem telling you that there was an actual Eva Gabor/pig joke.) Eddie Albert also starred in the movie McQ, guested on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., appeared in Time Trax, and can be found in many other shows and films where spelling is not an issue. Like all old actors, he cruised on The Love Boat in 1983. He was 99 years old when he died so show the man more respect than I am.

Ida Lupino More than just the dead aunt in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ida Lupino died in 2005 just a few months before Eddie Albert. Coincidence? I think not. Anyway, Ida Lupino was actually an attractive woman when she was young , which was in the 1930’s. (Back then, any woman who wasn’t stricken with polio was considered attractive. [Another month, another polio joke, sigh.]) She was a talented actress and comedienne. Her involvement in The Devil’s Rain came about as retribution by her agent. He got her the part as the head of a coven as revenge for the night they slept together and she gave him VD. (What? Imogene Coca played Aunt Edna in Vacation? Who cares? Since when do facts bother me when I’m blogslinging?)

Anton LaVey- Yes, THAT Anton LaVey. How many Anton LaVeys do you think there are? This particular Anton LaVey is the founder of the Church of Satan. He thought he was filming a documentary.

This film is credited to three writers and five producers. It must be good! Here’s the plot, direct from imdb:

A bunch of Satanists in the American rural landscape have terrible powers which enable them to melt their victims. However one of the children of an earlier victim vows to destroy them.

Yep, that’s it. Took 8 guys to come up with that.

To avoid work, I’ll now liberally quote from this film’s imdb page:

It’s not supposed to be funny, but you cannot help but laugh. William Shatner kicks royal butt in this for his performance is the funniest…well, I’ll be honest, he’s running neck and neck with Ernest Borgnine. Early, early performance of John Travolta is to die for. This is a film that you rent, get a big bowl of buttered popcorn with lots of water/soda and just enjoy it for schlock’s sake. You know this film was about nothing but a paycheck for everyone in it.

But I must give credit where credit is due. I love watching the ‘melting’ scene. Loads of fun. This is good entertainment from the “who green lighted this mess?” area of your brain. This was no “The Exorcist” but remember around this time, everyone wanted to do a “devil” film. This one is just funny and in a not supposed to be funny way!


Context is everything for this type of film. This is a 1970’s era Devil Worship film, which is a genre quite apart from other horror movies. The American public was in something of a ‘Satanic-Panic’ in the ’70’s, what with people listening to Black Sabbath and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In retrospect it was all relatively harmless and rather silly, as is this film.

That said, the actors do the very best job possible, with Bill Shatner being very, um, Shatnerian, and Borgnine being, well, Borgnine (compare his performance in Disney’s “Black Hole” for contrast- hilarious). If you like anything either of these actors starred in you will probably like this as well (unless you’re offended by the religious content). I actually though Borgnine looked *better* as a goat, at least until he melted!


Melting Bodies. Another special effects moment that is a winner as far as I’m concerned. Sure, the bodies look like they are spewing forth melted orange and lime sherbet, but I still find it effective. I’ve seen any number of melting body scenes over the years, but the ones in The Devil’s Rain are among my favorite.



Poor William Shatner gets the worst of it. While attempting to save his family from a devil cult in the desert, Shatner is captured and tortured in excruciating scenes of ineptitude. Ernest Borgnine (looking handsomely sinister and–more surprisingly–completely at ease in this B-grade demon western) is appropriately over-the-top as the head demon (or is he the Devil?), Ida Lupino has some nice moments as an elderly lady who gets bewitched, and John Travolta shows up in a couple of scenes as a coven member. Most of the cast melts at the end, which is something to see, but what about the rest of this thing? It’s poorly-written and badly-directed.


The movie plot is quite forgettable. Something about Shatner and his family, vengeance, a long standing curse, a book, Satan, some bad prosthetics, some bad flashbacks, and lots and lots of scenery and driving. Lets skip to the end. The ending was predictable, yet creepy. The last 20 minutes of the movie is a horrible, never ending death sequence. IT WONT END !! It reminded me of the MST3000 Hercules episode .. with the sandstorm. DEEP HURTING !!


Has this convinced you to run out and buy the DVD yet? No? I didn’t think so. Well, Mr. Skin says that this film contains no nudity, so you can rest assured that you won’t a glimpse of a topless, 61 year old Ida Lupino. Unless you go for that sort of thing.

Need more convincing?

3 Responses to “My Sort-Of Review of The Devil’s Rain, starring a cast of wow. Really. UPDATED with picture!”

  1. JRD Skinner February 8, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    I’ve seen this movie a few times, and that DVD cover has way more production value than the rest of the film combined.


    • bmj2k February 8, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      Not the high point of anyone’s career, that’s for sure.



  1. In Search of… Satanic Cults, Demonic Possession, and Zombies « Mr. Blog's Tepid Ride - February 7, 2011

    […] Rosemary’s Baby opened the floodgates (of Hell) and you couldn’t go to a beach, drive on a lonely stretch of road, or break down in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere without being beset by scores of devil worshippers determined to either kill you or make you bear Satan’s love child. (It was kind of like the relationship Tina Turner had with Ike.) And the movies were even worse. Especially if William Shatner was involved.    […]


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