• Devil's Rain, The



    Released by: Severin Film
    Released on: October 31st, 2017.
    Director: Robert Fuest
    Cast: William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Keenan Wynn, Tom Skerritt, Ida Lupino, John Travolta
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    One of the most eclecticly casted films of all time, The Devil’s Rain was made at a time when Satan was big at the box office. The seventies were the heyday of the supernatural horror film and for while there were a few gems that came out of the era like The Exorcist or The Omen, there were far more bad knock offs and cheap imitations. Robert Fuest’s The Devil’s Rain, falls somewhere in the middle in that it coasts on the supernatural coattails of better known genre efforts but manages to at least tread some new ground and provide a few interesting thrills along the way.

    When the film begins, Mark Preston (William Shatner) and his mother (Ida Lupino) are waiting in their home for the patriarch of the family to emerge out of the nasty storm that’s raining down outside. When he arrives, his face is more or less melting and his eyes have turned to goop. Shortly after, Preston’s mother is kidnapped and Mark intends to find out who was behind this and why. His travels lead him out into the desert to the small town of Redstone where he runs afoul of Jonathon Corbis (Ernest Borgnine of The Wild Bunch), a man with deep ties to a local cult of Satanists (one of whom is named Danny and is played by a young John Travolta while another is played by none other than Anton LaVey!) who have snatched his mommy dearest in hopes of obtaining a book that the Preston’s have held in their family for years – a book which contains the names of people who have given their lives over to Corbis’ dark master.

    Before Mark can trade the book for his mom and get out of town, the Satanists get in the way and soon he finds himself pulled into their sick and twisted world. Thankfully for Mark, not all hope is lost. An occult expert named Dr. Richards (Eddie Albert) has been working with Preston’s brother Tom (Tom Skerrit) and his wife Julie (Joan Prather) and when Tom finds out what’s happened to Mark, the three of them head out into the desert to try and rescue him. Unfortunately for the entire Preston clan and their friend Dr. Richards, the sheriff of Redstone (Keenan Wynne) doesn’t like intruders coming around, and neither do Corbis and his evil, cloaked minions.

    A goofy and completely disjointed plot can’t stop this one from working as an entertaining popcorn movie thanks to a fantastic cast and some genuinely bizarre special effects. Various people melt into bubbling mounds of goop and at one point Ernest Borgnine becomes overcome with his evil powers and he turns into a giant goat-man. Travolta’s part is minor despite marketing materials that allude to the contrary and Anton LaVey, at least according to the credits, served as a special advisor on the film presumeably to ensure the utmost realism in the black mass scenes (he didn’t do a very good job if that was the case as they’re all pretty laughable).

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin Films brings The Devil’s Rain to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer properly framed at 2.35.1 widescreen that looks really good. The color reproduction looks fantastic, black levels are strong and deep and there’s next to no print damage to complain about – the picture is almost spotless. Some film grain is evident in a few spots, but that’s the way it should be and there’s plenty of detail in both the foreground and background of the image. Compression artifacts are never an issues and the picture is free of obvious noise reduction and edge enhancement issues. This is a pretty substantial improvement over past DVD editions.

    There aren’t any major issues with the DTS-HD 2.0 Mono English language track that adorns this disc. For the most part, the audio is clean, clear and concise. Levels are properly balanced and the score and dialogue are both very distinct sounding. Hiss and distortion are never an issue and there’s definitely more depth here than we had on the older DVD releases.

    Carried over from the old DVD release is a full length audio commentary with the director of The Devil’s Rain, Robert Fuest, which is moderated by Marcus Hearn. This is a pretty interesting talk as Hearn asks Fuest questions about not only the feature on this disc but also about his work for the BBC on The Avengers and a few of his other movies. It serves as a bit of a career retrospective and it makes for an interesting listen. Fuest talks about shooting on location out in the Mexican desert and some of the problems that he ran into with a few crew members who didn’t speak English. He talks about working with Shatner and Borgnine and Lupino as well as a young Travolta and he covers some of the more technical details about the film as well such as the effects work towards the end that movie is known for.

    From there we move on to a host of new goodies, starting with Confessions Of Tom an eleven minute long interview with actor Tom Skerritt. He talks about how he got his start in the business as an actor and as a writer before then going on to tell some good natured stories from the shoot, discussing the locations, what it was like on set and more. After that, it’s time to spend five minutes talk about The Devil's Makeup in an interview with SFX artist Tom Burman. Most of the talk centers around the awesome melting effects that are featured in the film, it’s pretty interesting to hear about some of the unorthodox props that were used for this. There’s also talk about turning Earnest Borgnine into a devilish horned monster and all that something like that entails. Also on hand is a four minute archival interview with Shatner himself, shot in 1975. They talk about some of his made for TV movies, his Star Trek work and then, all too briefly, his appearance in The Devil’s Rain. First Stop Durango is an interview with script supervisor Ana Maria Quintana that runs fifteen minutes. She looks back on this pretty enthusiastically as it was her first real job in the business. Speaking Spanish and being able to talk to the Mexican crew helped a lot here. She tells some great stories about the cast and crew and what it was like to be involved with all of this. She then talks about what came after this film and how it helped her earn a seriously solid Hollywood career in the coming years. Consulting With The Devil is a ‘conversation with the High Priest and High Priestess of the Church Of Satan,’ they being Peter H. Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia. In this ten minute interview they talk about Anton LaVey’s involvement with the film which he saw as a nice promotional opportunity, and how he felt about the finished product (he wasn’t exactly stoked). Furthering the LaVey connection is Hail Satan!, an interview with LaVey biographer Blanche Barton that runs eight minutes. Here she talks about the time she spent with LaVey and the Church Of Satan, LaVey’s involvement with the film and his interactions with the cast and with the director. Also included here is a piece where filmmaker and horror collector Daniel Roebuck talks for just under eleven minutes about his own experience seeing this film first run and how he had to talk his mother into taking him to see it!

    Rounding out the extras is a still gallery of Polaroids taken by script supervisor Ana Maria Quintana on set that are accompanied by a collection of radio spots, a poster and still gallery, a handful of TV spots, the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Severin has also seen fit to include some boss reversible cover sleeve art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    A fun, and slightly goofy, supernatural drive-in movie, The Devil’s Rain isn’t the scariest of horror movies but it’s definitely an entertaining and enjoyable way to kill an hour and a half – and what a cast! Severion’s transfer is fantastic and the wealth of new extras included on this release should absolutely please the film’s fan base. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

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