100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

SatanFest 2013 - Day Three: "The Devil's Rain!"

Ernie B., about to break it down, Satanic Style. 
A Satanic Saturday to you all, my loyal coven of misfits and heretics!

Shut up, already - I know it's late. I am catching up today, okay? So stuff it! A brother's gotta have a life, too, man! I ain't getting paid to write this damn thing!

Yet ...

Actually, my tardiness owes very little to any attempts to have a life. I'm kinda lifeless right now, as in I need to get one ASAP. So I have no real excuses other than the fact that I need to stick to a schedule in order to get this done in a timely fashion. And that is just what I plan to do.

See? She's a cutie. 
In all seriousness, I have amassed a number of loyal readers and followers on Twitter that I feel I am disappointing. Of course, that was because our bestie, staff member and self-promoted front office manager Shannon admonished us for that very reason on the way to the incredible Eastern State Penitentiary last night for the best Halloween-themed event ever.

"I feel like I have to ride your ass!" she said, and she didn't mean that in any sexual way. Which, I admit, is disappointing 'cuz she is a cutie, as you can see there to the left.

Anyway, we will catch up now that the weekend is here and I will not get behind again. I swear. Shut up.

And all that said, lets get to the remarkable masterpiece known as "The Devil's Rain." Thank you all for reading! I love you!

WTF, Borgnine ... WTF 
The Devil's Rain (1975): Directed by Robert Fuest. Written by James Ashton, Gabe Essoe and Gerald Hopman. Distributed by Bryanston Distributing Company.

Starring: William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine, Tom Skerritt, Eddie Albert, Joan Prather and Ida Lupino.

The DL: A family with a mysterious past comes face to face with its destiny, as the leader of a Satanic desert cult comes in search of a book that will restore his dearly departed faithful ... I think.

The Hotness: I was somewhat excited at first to watch this flick, because director Robert Fuest made one of the all-time great cult films of the genre, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" and its sequel. However, according to the Wikipedia page for the movie, this turd essentially destroyed his career, to the point that his only other film to date is a softcore porn that sounds like the type of thing Cinemax (read: "Skinimax") would have shown in the 80s, and that I would have masturbated to. In fact I think I did, frankly.

I actually enjoyed the movie - for the most part. It dragged a lot, lot, lot, towards the end. But the first third of the film is driven by two over-the-top performances by the immortal William Shatner, and the late unequivocal genius and fellow masturbator Ernest Borgnine.

"Thankya. Thankyaverymuch."
To know Shatner is to love Shatner, and as a somewhat-former Trekkie myself, I certainly do love me some Shatner. And the Shatner is delivered in full force for most of the film. The man can turn a phrase as simple as "No!" or a gesture like dropping a gun into pure and utter melodrama. So, I found myself howling with laughter for much of the first half of the movie - at both Shatner's insane and misplaced intensity and at Borgnine chewing the scenery to goddamn piece and spewing them all over the place. Sadly, I am sure the hilarious response wasn't the one the producers were looking for.

The plot kind of lumbers along, with a few early scenes between Shatner and Borgnine looking like a western, complete with the two stars in cowboy hats leaning on the post outside an obvious backlot western set. And just when you think things are gonna get all "Brokeback Satan" between the two, a proposed "Faith-Off" ends with Borgnine assuring that if he wins he gets the aforementioned book, "and you!" Confirming our suspicions that this whole book MacGuffin was just an elaborate excuse for gay sex in the desert.

You see, we find out later on that the book mostly contains a list of the people condemned to death in 1650, and that there is this whole reincarnated/vengeance from beyond the grave trope at work here that is never quite fully explained.

Tom Skerritt ponders his mustache and finding a new agent. 
Later on, the legendary Tom Skerritt shows up and does his goddamned best with the crap they gave him. He plays another hapless brother from this accursed family now burdened with this farcockta book nonsense. And I do mean nonsense - Borgnine's Jonathan Corbis, self-proclaimed "Satan's master on Earth," is shown to be a powerful magician early on, capable of many incredible feats. What the hell does he need this book for? Did he forget the names of the people he was condemned with? Seriously, I am no dummy and I am not entirely sure what purpose the book has, other than to set the overall plot in motion. Which, goddamn it, makes it a MacGuffin - plain and simple.

Again, I am not entirely condemning this movie - I will, however, say that it should be avoided unless you have a taste for cheesy, low-budget cinema. Which fortunately I do. In fact, some of the special melting effects seen towards the end are pretty cool and gross - they just linger on those shots for far too long, adding to the movie's overall "is-it-over-yet" tone.

Also, there is some confusion about exactly what "The Devil's Rain" is on the Interwebs. It appears to be both the name of a cool goat-headed vessel that Skerritt and Eddie Albert find in the cultist's temple that contains the souls of the un-resurrected. followers, and of the rain said souls appear to be drenched in whist so contained. Here again was a pretty cool, simple effect that would make a great party decoration. It's stretching things a bit, to say the least, but the whole movie is an exercise in making a little out of quite a lot.

The Devil You Say?: Oh my, yes. Although again, Satan himself doesn't make an appearance, Borgnine at one point appears to be "mounted," in the Voodoo sense of the word, by a demon who inquires why he's been summoned "from the pit." Also, renowned occultist and founder of the Church of Satan Anton LaVey served as a consultant to the film, providing it with some authentic-looking altars and properly creepy Satanic masses complete with ominous chanting (although if they are saying any actual words, I'll be damned if I know what they are).

Also, while there are obvious traditional demonic elements to the movie, LaVeyan Satanism is not "Devil Worship," nor does it revolve around any weird resurrection rituals that I am aware of. Yet, those are the visual elements being evoked throughout the film, and Satan is even referred to as the "Lord of Light," which is another traditional LaVeyan Satanist view of "Lucifer" in the romantic, William Blake/John Milton view of Satan and The Fall. LaVey also must have helped with some of the ritualistic elements as well, because some of the language is almost verbatim from some of the Satanic Masses I have read before. Unless they just up and ripped his ass off.

LaVey himself, along with pre-to's-fame John Travolta, are said to both have brief roles in the movie, but I didn't catch either of them. And Australian film reviewer Michael Adams made a great reference to Travolta's appearance in what he referred to as the "ultimate cult movie," since "it's about a cult, has a cult following, was devised with input from a cult leader, and saw a future superstar indoctrinated into a cult he'd help popularize."

And that just gave me the frigging lolz.

Cool Stuff Someone Said: "In the name of Satan, ruler of the Earth, king of the world, I command the forces of darkness to bestow their infernal power upon me! Come forth from the abyss! Open wide the gates of hell!"

Side Notes: Poor Shatner: the man really drifted in the years between the end of the original "Star Trek" series and the poorly received, yet franchise-revitalizing, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." During that time, he starred in some golden oldies like, "Big Bad Mama," and "The Horror at 37,000 Feet," which is considered by many to be his worst performance ever. Having never seen it, I place "The Devil's Rain" on my personal list of Shatner low points. Although those "Promise" commercials were pretty damn douchey.