The Devils Rain is a quintessential 70s horror flick, from its cast down to the obligatory downbeat ending. The story revolves around devil worshipper Jonathan Corbis, who has spent three hundred years attempting to regain possession of a ledger listing souls pledged to Satan. Standing in his way are its caretakers, the Preston family. Various members of the clan fall to Corbis devilish powers, allowing the heros role to change hands a couple of times. Like Fiend Without a Face, the picture is basically a bunch of stuff meant to hold our interest until we get to the blowout (and gross-out) special effects-laden climax.
While a minor effort, The Devils Rain manages to sustain a fairly creepy ambiance through its thrifty running time. The picture has two main strengths. First, events move swiftly. The story is already in progress as the film starts and were expected to fill in the blanks as we race along. This means that a lot of stuff just seems to happen out of left field, but its better than having to watch every plot turn being boringly set up. Credit this to director Robert Fuest, who earlier proved he could deliver the goods by helming the two Dr. Phibes movies.
The other advantage the film possesses is its juicy roster of players. Few pictures can boast of so many veteran hambones. William Shatner, Eddie Green Acres Albert, Keenan Wynn, Ernest Borgnine and Ida Lupino set to chewing up the scenery so vigorously that its a miracle a building was left standing. Moreover, they are joined by such then youthful actors as Tom Skerritt and John Travolta. If you ever wanted to see Travolta with his eyes gouged out and who hasnt? this is definitely the movie for you.
The film is afforded a nice widescreen presentation. The image quality is generally good, if not spectacular, due most probably to the low-budget nature of the film itself. The color palette is rather muted. Theres some minor artifacting and brief moments of pixelating, but nothing too serious. The soundtrack, meanwhile, regularly features some just audible background hissing. Overall, the disc is serviceable, but considering the $25 MSRP, they might have put a bit more care into it.
These are pretty skimpy. Theres a full framed and noticeably cropped trailer, which is rather battered and scratchy. Other than that there is a listless photo gallery. This includes the films poster, featuring the humorously ungrammatical tagline "Heaven help us all when The Devils Rain"; a line of box photos of the stars from the movies pressbook, accompanied by text promising "Absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture!" (although I found the quite similar ending of Horror Hotel to have a lot more impact); and a couple of stills. Again, given the fairly lofty suggested retail price, Id have expected a bit more effort in this area.
Ken Begg, 2/7/2001