As I’ve stated in previous reviews, horror films often times are a reflection, of both the world we live in and current events. When Anton LaVey formed his infamous Church Of Satan in 1966, it not only sparked a wave of controversy, but a surprising amount of followers. Hollywood royalty such as Jane Mansfield, and entertainer Sammy Davis Jr, to name a few. All across middle America over the next few decades, a wave of paranoia seemed to be on the rise. With wild rumors floating around, most of which were later proven false, of Satanic cults lurking in the shadows. These wild stories, if anything, guaranteed ratings on daytime talk shows, as well as sales of supermarket tabloids.
LaVey himself, was the ultimate showman. An instant celebrity of the counter culture. It would make perfect sense for him to be involved with cinema, in one way or another. Although it has never been proven, he was rumored to have been involved with the production of Rosemary’s Baby. There is however, one film that he was credited as “technical advisor” on. The 1975 cult film, The Devil’s Rain. In which he also has a brief cameo.
You would assume being a showman, this would be a lavish production. This is certainly not the case. The film is extremely low budget, and the cinematography appears to be shout through a tube of Vaseline. And yet, is enjoyable, timeless, and essential viewing for any fan of cult horror. Much of which has to do with the cast alone, Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, and even John Travolta in a minor role.
The film follows the story of a Satanic high priest named Corbis, played by Borgnine. Who has been stalking a family by the name of Preston, for several generations.The Preston family has been hiding a tome from Corbis, and betrayed him hundreds of years ago. Nothing says “enjoyable viewing,” than watching Borgnine try to play the role of Satanic overlord. His chief adversary of the film is Mark Preston, played by Shatner. Hilarity ensues……..
Although the film attempts on several occasions to take itself seriously, it simply comes off as campy nonsense. Although, seeing Corbis and Preston in a “showdown of faith” in the films first act, is nothing short of pure gold. At the end of the day, film is supposed to entertain. Watch Troll 2 or Woodchipper Massacre and you’ll understand my point.
Upon it’s initial release, the film received many negative reviews. Borgnine would later say that he would “never do a film such as this again.” The films director, Robert Fuest would spend the rest of his career in television. Despite the negative publicity, I still find this film highly enjoyable. Sure, it’s campy and low budget. But it’s fun. In a time where the bible belt attempted to convince America that Satan was a living force, lurking in our high schools, and in the shadows. This film just goes to show just how silly that train of thought is.