Mark Preston (William Shatner) is awaiting the return of his father through a fierce storm, but his mother (Ida Lupino) believes that evil is afoot, having foreseen this night in her dream. The father does turn up, tells Mark that Satanist Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine) wants a sacred book the Preston family has in their possession, and promptly melts. Mark knows that the only way to rid his family of the curse of Corbis is to confront Corbis himself...
Famous Satanist Anton LaVey was the technical advisor on this weird horror, scripted by James Ashton, Gabe Essoe and Gerald Hopman. It follows that the film, a devil worship horror, contains the trappings of the dark arts - black masses, goats' horns, a robed congregation of the damned, voodoo dolls, upside-down crosses, pentagrams and the like, all to add that little touch of authenticity to a plot that plunges you in at the deep end from the beginning. Considering what happens to the Satanists in this film, it's a wonder LaVey was involved at all, it would put anyone off joining up for Beelzebub.
After a title sequence that drags on for almost four minutes, all played out over the paintings of Heironymous Bosch to set the mood, The Devil's Rain doesn't bother to explain itself for almost an hour, when you finally discover the significance of the book that Corbis wants. In the meantime, we see two of the greatest overactors in the business, Shatner and Borgnine ("Seize them!"), engaging in a battle of wits to see whose faith is the strongest. Borgnine said he accepted the role, not an obvious one it must be admitted, especially as it sees him covered in devilish makeup, because he was inspired by Fredric March in Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.
Shatner probably accepted the role because he needed the money. Mark comes out of this contest between good and evil the worst, screaming at the top of his voice as he is subjected to diabolical tortures. So much for his heroics, and step forward Tom Skerritt, as Mark's brother Tom, to save the day. Dragging his conveniently E.S.P.-gifted wife along behind him, they show up in the eerie, desert ghost town where Corbis and his disciples reside.
You immediately know who is inducted into Corbis' coven because they have no eyes. How do they see? Terrible! Anyway, the accumulation of peculiar incidents and detail manages to work up a atmosphere of delirium, and as the background is filled in, it is revealed that Corbis has been around for centuries, biding his time until he can harvest the souls for Satan - although it looks as if we're supposed to have picked up this information from the start. The finale, which sees almost the entire cast (including a young John Travolta) melt away in the rain of the title, certainly sticks in the mind. And probably stuck to the floor, too. Music by Al De Lory.