Supplemental Shatner #1: The Devil’s Rain (1975)

“Bloggers think I’m cool,” he said. “I wish I knew what it was about me that was cool so I can repeat it.”
William Shatner, “The Many Iterations of William Shatner”

Ever since the Shatnerthon, I have been watching films that some of you fine Shatnerthonians wrote about. Of the films I’ve seen since the ‘thon, one of the best has to be “The Devil’s Rain,” contributed by Pussy Goes Grr! and Scenes from the Morgue.

devils1

You all know how much I like the big bad B movie, and people, “Devil’s Rain” delivers. It’s got:

devils2A delightful amount of Shatness.

devils5Ernie Borgie!

 

devils9Eyeless Lupino!

 

devils8Stylish satanism.

 

devils7Crazy witch bling!

 

devils12Dissolving waxy devilzombie legs!

 

devils11Goat face!

 

devils10And I loved the ghost town used in this film.

 

All I can confirm about this town is that it was in Mexico. I don’t know if it was created for the movie or not, although it looks like a genuine ghost town with a small white church built nearby specifically for the film.

devils4
However, it’s such a small town with no personal residences, just commercial buildings, that I wonder if it was entirely constructed for this movie.

devils3
The devil’s rain refers to a large whatsit that looks like a giant glass marble with the souls of the damned inside. The damned apparently hang out in this globe, wail, and get rained on; I suppose everyone needs a hobby. The viewscreen on the whatsit reminded me of a Fisher Price television I had when I was very young, something like this. The excellent And You Call Yourself a Scientist! post on “Devil’s Rain” notes that this whatsit is what Jabootu calls a “Nut O Fun.” The phrase was originally used to describe a hexagonal (i.e. nut shaped) thing in the background of “The Exorcist II” which was “one of the very few truly likable objects of any kind (animal, vegetable, mineral, or ethereal) seen in the film.”

Now, I’m not saying there is nothing else to like about “Devil’s Rain,” because I thought the aesthetics and the effects were quite good, but one cannot deny the Nutness inherent in a big damned Travolta-soul-holding marble.

Eddie Albert and Tom Skerritt try their best to ruin this film by being bland, but their blandness does not prevail. Also, Joan Prather’s outfit is exactly like what I would wear all the time if I could afford bellbottoms and hippie hand-knit cardigans for every day. Despite a heavy amount of Skerritt, I loved this movie. The NY Times article I linked at the beginning of this post calls “The Devil’s Rain” schlock, which is dismissive and silly. “Schlock” implies a worthlessness that does not apply to “Devil’s Rain”. I doubt Pat Jordan, author of the article, has even seen the film; Jordan apparently thinks the famous “get a life” Saturday Night Live sketch aired before the 1979 “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was released. It might be snobbishness on my part, but when basic errors like that end up not only in a professional article, but are used in some sort of cultural analysis, I tend to reject almost all of the article outright.

5 Comments

  1. Russell says:

    I watched “The Devil’s Rain” a few weeks ago and it is indeed, a whole slab of extended body melting awesomeness. Borgnine and Shatner together in a creepy ghost town is in itself a whole tv series so it’s a shame that Bill kind of misses the middle part of the film due to the whole demonic possession thing.

    While I agree that Tom Skerrit is kind of bland, I really liked his outfit so I forgave him. It’s very brown, I seem to remember.

    Also of note is the cool flashback scene where we find out that Shatner is in fact the reincarnation of an earlier Shatner, or something. Maybe he’s like The Phantom and every generation has its own Shatner.

    Anyway, just wanted to mention how entertaining the whole Shatnerthon was on your site. It certainly gave me pause for thought and realise how many cool films the man has been in.

  2. Margaret says:

    Oh my. Why have I not seen this?!

    It’s on youtube. I’m watching it straight away.

  3. Angie says:

    Well I’m sold. Gotta find this immediately! Also, shatness = best word ever.

  4. Fresca says:

    Russell’s “Shatner is in fact the reincarnation of an earlier Shatner” made me think it would be fun to identify all the Shats in history…

Comments are closed.