Tuesday, October 3, 2006

THE DEVIL'S RAIN

Ida Lupino. Tom Skerrit. John Travolta. William Shatner. Eddie Albert. Ernest Bognine. Only one Seventies Satanism screamer can claim all of those worthies in its cast, and that's the perennial drive-in and late night TV classic, THE DEVIL'S RAIN (1975) – the only devil-worship shocker with real-life Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey as technical advisor!

Directed by Robert Fuest (THE ABOMINABLE DR. FIBES), RAIN is an entertaining, old-fashioned horror thriller, light on logic, but full of cool imagery and PG chills. Hollywood legend Lupino is the matriarch of a family that possesses a book coveted by a Satan-worshipping coven led by Borgnine. When Lupino, her eldest son (Shatner) and the book all go missing, little brother Tom Skerrit heads for a desert ghost town in search of them. There he finds a cult of robed, eyeless devil worshippers (including a very young Travolta) hanging out in a de-consecrated church and a big jug full of stolen souls. With the aid of college professor Eddie Albert, Skerrit attempts to free the souls and rescue his family from the cult.

It's a lot of fun, if a bit tame by today's standards. The desert settings are appropriately eerie, the visual and make-up effects are pretty good (especially for the time), and the ending still packs a punch. The performances range from good to outrageously over-the-top, which should be no surprise, considering the actors involved.

Previously released by VCI, THE DEVIL’S RAIN is getting a new lease on life from those wizards at Dark Sky Films with a new, much-improved edition hitting shelves on Halloween day. Boasting a superior 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from a 35mm vault print (the VCI version was non-anamorphic and a bit dark), and sharp 2.0 Dolby Mono soundtrack, Dark Sky’s new special edition includes an informative commentary track from director Fuest moderated by Marcus Hearne, the original theatrical trailer, vintage radio spots and newsreel footage of Anton Lavey conducting a Satanic wedding in the 60’s.

Once again, Dark Sky has proven that they’re one of the top cult film labels around by taking a previously-released horror title and making the earlier edition obsolete. If you’re a fan of RAIN or Seventies Satanic thrillers in general, you’ll want to pick this up. And if you own the VCI disc, you may seriously want to consider an upgrade.

Recommended.

BUY: The Devil's Rain