The Devil's Rain
If you're ready to discover the hidden connection between Star Trek and Quentin Tarantino, just brace yourself for The Devil's Rain. If these details don't matter to you, then hang on anyway, because you never know when such information might impress a date. When we reveal the link, you'll just snap your fingers and say, "Oh, it's so obvious, since The Devil's Rain co-stars William Shatner of Star Trek fame and is noted for an early but small role by John Travolta of Pulp Fiction fame." With that bit of trivia lodged in your brain, it's only fair that we should actually show The Devil's Rain, just to keep you from slowly sinking into insanity as you ponder such subtle synchronicities.
We're sure you're familiar with the difficulty of keeping name tags on all those souls you've collected, but Jonathan (Ernest Borgnine, you remember him from MST3000's review of "Merlin's Mystical Shop of Wonders") thinks he's found a solution. It seems that he and fellow demon-worshiping types have taken over a deserted Arizona town (actually, it's Mexico, but don't tell anybody) and looked into the benefits of home-schooling. They sacrifice somebody and keep the soul in a little crystal bottle (no doubt left over from a failed microbrewery), then sacrifice somebody else and keep another soul and -- we're sure you get the picture. Now what you haven't imagined is that there's a Book of Names with some really powerful powers and bizarre delights, one of which appears to be the names of souls. This delightful tome of terror is being safeguarded by the family of Tom Preston (Tom Skerritt from Alien), who realize that Jonathan & Co. are up to no good. And they're right since J&C kills the whole family except for Tom. If you've guessed that this situation is now personal and it's payback time, then you have some idea of the brimstone ending of The Devil's Rain. (Fire up your word processor and get to writing your own scripts; just don't send them to us.)
The John Travolta significance is pretty easy: The Devil's Rain was his first film. Yep, at the tender age of 21, Travolta teetered on the brink of invading America's consciousness. (Oddly enough his off-Broadway debut three years earlier had been in Rain, the Somerset Maugham play.) By this time, Travolta had paid a few dues with a tiny role in a touring company of Grease and a Broadway appearance opposite the Andrews Sisters. But the year he made The Devil's Rain also marked the appearance of Welcome Back Kotter, making Travolta a nearly instant success. Within just three years, Travolta would consolidate his TV fame, appear in Carrie, Saturday Night Fever and the big-screen version of Grease and record three Top 40 songs. We're sure he owes it all to his brief but icky appearance in The Devil's Rain. (Perhaps predictably, after he hit stardom The Devil's Rain was re-released with Travolta in high billing, despite the fact that if you leave the room to pop some corn you'll miss him.)
The reins of this fine film were held in the capable hands of British director Robert Fuest. After cutting his teeth on commercials and the original The Avengers, Fuest (not to be confused with that other guy who wrote about selling your soul) became known for his solid work with Vincent Price on the Dr. Phibes films and the cult fave The Last Days of Man on Earth. To add a bit of authenticity, or at least marketing value to The Devil's Rain, Fuest enlisted the help of noted Satanist Anton LaVey as "technical advisor," also getting LaVey to appear in the film as the high priest. But even more entertainment value is provided by the weird casting mix of on-the-downslide great actors (Ida Lupino, Claudio Brook), fine character players (Keenan Wynn) and plain old dialogue-chewing hacks (Shatner, Eddie Albert). That's just one of the many charms of films in MonsterVision Land. (Yeah yeah, we know somebody's saying "Claudio Brook? Who the heck is that?" Well, this actor appeared in four Luis Bunuel films, an entry in the wrestling/horror series Neutron, Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July, three films by the great Mexican director Arturo Ripstein and the wonderfully moody Cronos. Don't ever say we're not educational.)
We probably shouldn't have waited until the end to mention all the goo and ichor and slime resulting from the devil's rain in The Devil's Rain. It's not all irate family-less family man vs. soul-stealing Satanists, not by a long shot. So mark down these dates and times then check them twice. Miss "The Devil's Rain" -- when it's free even -- and you'll just weep bitter tears.
The Devil's Rain (1975), host segments continued from Dragnet.
Last seen on MonsterVision 9/11/99, and 100% Weird on July 16, 2000
Host segments for "The Devil's Rain"
OK. For those of you who tuned in tonight and got all freaked out because we were showing Dragnet, “Joe Bob, where are the monster movies? You used to be a scary show, what are you doin’ Joe Bob?” I read your mail, don’t worry. We didn’t forget you. I had to run up to the canyon, here, to the old trailer house. Remember it? I didn’t sell it just cause I moved to El Lay. Actually, I tried to sell it, but nevermind about that. Here’s the old MonsterVision, is what I’m trying to say. It’s just going to be coming on a little later, as our second feature of the evening.
And tonight’s big-budget classic is “The Devil’s Rain.” Ida Lupino, Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, John Travolta, and Anton LaVey – founder of the Church Of Satan, together at last in “The Devil’s Rain,” the 1975 Satan-worshiping epic best known for being the first movie to feature disintegrating face-goo special effects.
You know what I think is wrong with her? [Joe Bob’s host segments for “Dragnet” spoofed “Sunset Boulevard,” and continued the spoof for several months during the first movie each Saturday]. I like her, don’t get me wrong. How could I not like her. She’s letting me stay in her house and everything. But I think she’s a Wheel of Fortune person and I’m a Jeopardy person, you know? Everybody in life is one or the other and the two types can’t live together.
You know the same company distributes those two shows? That’s why they’re always on at the same time. That doesn’t really make sense because, have there ever been two more opposite games? First Jeopardy, the game where the smartest people in the world answer questions, in reverse, and so fast that it’s not enough just to know stuff that’s normally asked on Graduate School entrance exams, you’ve got to know it in the form of a question and know it before Alex Tribeck gets finished saying it!
And then you have Wheel Of Fortune, where everybody down at the Alzheimer’s Home can figure out the complete puzzle before the contestant in the lime-green golf shirt can finish memorizing his happy-face nametag. I mean, look at Alex Tribeck. I believe that man DOES know which Roman emperor defeated the Greek fleet while picking his nose and whatever. Now, look at Pat Sajak. Is he awake yet this week? “Tough luck,” he says, when some lipstick lizard in a jogging suit fails to figure out the puzzle. Like, and it’d probably be a puzzle like this [points to prop]. How about, “You’re a moron!”
Jeopardy is designed so that really intelligent people constantly remind you how stupid you are, and Wheel Of Fortune is designed so that brain-dead cheerleaders from South Jersey can make you feel like Steven Hocking. Anyway, I think she’s a Wheel of Fortune person; she’s always trying to buy a vowel, you know? Jeopardy is a healthier show, because people who tune in to figure out how stupid they are, just might be smarter than people who tune in to figure out how smart they are.
Does that make sense?
I’m telling you guys, if you’re thinking about dating some girl, and you’re wondering, “Is she the one?” Ask her this question, “Are you a Jeopardy person or a Wheel Of Fortune person?” It’s all you’ll ever need to know.
Anyhow, let’s watch a little of “The Devil’s Rain,” the cute little story of the Satan-worshipping New England Puritan minister played by Ernest Borgnine, who turns into a pig-faced, ram-horned devil monster and tries to poke out the eyes of every member of William Shatner’s family, until Tom Skerrit decides to go out to Ernest Borgnine’s church in the Arizona desert and take a little look-see. Co-starring Keenan Wynn as the Sheriff. Let’s look at those drive-in totals. We have:
29 dead bodies
Kindly old retainer strung up by his feet
4 zombie-monk attacks
Oozie demon blood
Burning at stake
One fist fight
Howls of demons
2 motor vehicle chases, with 2 crashes
3 stars, check it out. With Ida Lupino back from the grave.
Only kidding. Roll it
[fading] I was actually the question on “Jeopardy” one time. The answer on the screen was, “The Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas.” And the question would have been, “Who is Joe Bob Briggs.” I say would have been, because all 3 contestants didn’t know. They just kinda stood there. I mean it WAS a $40 one [crew laughs]
The Devil's Rain, Break #1
William Shatner just says, “I’ll be back,” to the obviously injured Old John, who has just been strung up by his feet by some kind of demon. He doesn’t even say, “Are you OK?” He just leaves him there. Anyway, I had forgotten until I saw the opening titles that this movie was distributed by Brianston Distributors. Now, we don’t usually talk about distributors on this show, but in the 70s, Brianston was this company that had two of the biggest money-making independent films in the history of America. One was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and the next one was Deep Throat (rated X).
And then about the time this movie came out, they just vanished. Never seen again. Some of those guys who put up the money for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they’re still suing em, down in Austin. What’s interesting to me though, is that Brianston must have had the biggest genius marketeers in history. Because, to this day, whenever anybody in Congress wants to give an example of disgusting awful films, that are corrupting America, we still use these two titles - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and “Deep Throat,” and these movies are both more than 25 years old. I mean, there’s much worse stuff to talk about since then. But the Brianston guys, they were like carnies. They convinced people that these were the most perverted flicks ever made, and that they just might’ve been MADE by deranged lunatics, and so their reputation lives on. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually a black comedy – nobody believes me when I say that – and “Deep Throat” is also a comedy. And by the way, Stu, if you’re watching this, I can’t find my copy, OK? Back to the movie.
[fading] You know, you try to build a classic video library, and your friends are all voyeurs and, Stu doesn’t even know it’s a comedy. You know why not? He’s never watched it with the sound turned on. And now he’s got, your wife is gonna find it in the VCR, Stu, and then it’s gonna get destroyed, and nobody’ll be able to watch it. Think about somebody beside yourself, man [crew laughs]
The Devil's Rain, Break #2
A face-off between Ernest Borgnine and William Shatner. Is that great or what? At the very beginning of his career, after he got out of the Navy, Ernest Borgnine was always a nasty bad guy, like in Bad Day At Black Rock; a lotta other movies. But that all changed when he got the Academy Award for “Marty” in 1956, then he became lovable. So it’s hard to watch him in these bad guy roles in the 1970s, after he’s done “McHale’s Navy,” and all those jolly parts, without thinking, “Hey, it’s not really the devil, it’s Ernie!” You know? Ernie Borgnine, who drives around the country in his RV. You seen that movie they made about that? A whole movie about that, it’s a pretty good movie, about Ernest Borgnine driving across America – in a bus, actually, this huge thing. He always drives it to Milwaukee in July, so he can be the Grand Clown in the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee.
And he also drives it down to Alabama so he can visit his best friend, George Lindsey, better known as “Goober.” Okey doke, back to the Mexican desert, although it’s supposed to be Arizona or some dang place in the Southwest. In fact, filmed in the same place they made A Man Called Horse. See, all the guys in the crew just winced, cause they remember that scene with the pointy sticks through Richard Harris’s breasts, right? Same Producer, Sandy Howard, went back to Mexico to make this movie. OK, let’s go
[fading] Ernest Borgnine. He’s been married 5 times. But it’s not because he couldn’t commit. Cause the last one has lasted more than 25 years, to “Tova” of cosmetics fame. She even wrote a book, called Married Happily Forever. Course, back in the 60s – we’ve talked about this before – Ernest was married, for 34 days, to Ethel Merman. That was heavy
The Devil's Rain, Break #3
The eyeless mother of William Shatner, struggling to be free, is of course, the late great Ida Lupino. One of the great screen names, Ida Lupino. Sounds like Mexican produce, doesn’t it? “Yeah, the whole family worked in the Lupino fields, damned near killed us. The worst were the Ida Lupinos.”
Anyway, that’s a real name. Cause who could make up that name, right? And I thought she got short-changed a little bit when she died in 1995, cause her obituaries just said, “She was a tough-dame actress from the 30s and 40s.” And she was – she was in “High Sierra” with Humphrey Bogart, she was the warden in “Women’s Prison” – but she was also a great director. In fact, for a long time, she was the ONLY woman director in Hollywood. She made five films between 1950 and 1953; all of em dramas about taboo topics like teen pregnancy, serial killers, she did a great one called “The Bigamist,” which is pretty much self-explanatory. And then in the 60s, she worked a lot in TV – she directed The Twilight Zone a lot, she directed “The Untouchables” TV-series, “The Fugitive” TV-series, she even directed Gilligan’s Island. And she was a singer. She sang the title song in “The Man I Love,” remember that song? She sang a couple of songs in “Road House” (1948).
As an actress, they called her The Poor Man’s Bette Davis, cause she made cheaper movies. And as director, they called her The Poor Man’s Don Siegel. She was a pretty tough lady. In fact, she came from an acting family. See, over in Europe, they have these real acting families. Her family had actors going back 300 years. But towards the end of her life, she got kind of cranky. And she liked a little nip in the afternoon. And when fans would come visit her, trying to ask questions, she didn’t much care for it. And these two guys from Australia got chased down her driveway by Ida, and she had an axe in her hand, so . . . tough on the screen, tough in life. Ida Lupino. OK, back to “Devil’s Rain.”
[fading] “Ida was a kooky cat, but I like that in a dame.” Wait, I need a fedora for this [puts on hat]. “That Ida Lupino, she was a gas.”
[TNT announcer] Tom Skerritt, star of “The Devil’s Rain,” won an Emmy in 1994, for his work on the TV-series “Picket Fences.”
The Devil's Rain, Break #4
Well, they took their dang time getting Tom Skerritt into town, didn’t they? Tom Skerritt, owner of the Crested Butte Brewery in Crested Butte, Colorado. Did you know that? Gotta love a man who loves beer that much. Last movie we had with Tom was Poison Ivy, which Tom hates. Do you believe that? I thought he was good in that movie, didn’t you? OK, what is this, Short-Segment Night? What was that last segment, 4 minutes? Let’s get going. Knife stuck in the arm of the rocking-chair. Ooooooo
[fading] This movie was made in William Shatner’s “Finding Himself” period. After Star Trek. After his divorce from the wife who took him to the cleaners, where he had no money. Hard to watch the guy without thinking of the tragic death of his second wife, just about a month ago (summer 1999) in a swimming pool accident, they’d only been married about two years.
William Shatner has fans all over the planet. We’re thinking about you, buddy
The Devil's Rain, Break #5
Well, Ernest is just chewing up every little bit of sagebrush out there in the Mexican desert, isn’t he? “Didst one of thee fall from the favor of Satan?” OK, make a note: Never write dialogue for Ernest Borgnine that has “thee” and “thou” in it, if thou knowest what is best for thee.
And, ah, you know who I just spotted on the perimeter here, speaking of people wandering around in the desert? It’s Rusty, bringing us our weekly dollop of prison life, in the segment we call Joe Bob’s JailBreak. You found me!
Rusty: This is not working for me
JB: Why? The crisp southern California night-time air, the howling coyotes. And that guy over in the bushes over there . . .
JB: Only kidding about the guy in the bushes. Why is this not working?
Rusty: Do you really think people are going to concept you as a Californian?
JB: I’m not trying to BE a Californian, I’m a guy IN California, like Rutger Hauer
Rusty: What’s Rutger Hauer have to do with it?
JB: Well, he’s from Holland, and I’m from Texas. It’s the same thing. We both talk funny but we’re workin on it
Rusty: Rutger Hauer doesn’t talk funny
JB: Thank you very much. Whatta you got?
Rusty: Oh, right. This is a letter from Spider, at the Saginaw Correctional Center in Freeland, Michigan
JB: Is that so? OK, here we go
“I’m writing this letter to you for two reasons. First is to tell you that you have a great show, and my fellow inmates and I receive much enjoyment from both you and the movies that are narrated by you. The second reason is for me to have the chance to request some movies that I can’t recall ever seeing on your show. I know it’s a long-shot, but what the Hell, I can try. As you probably noticed from the return address, I am currently doing time at a correctional facility in Saginaw, and one of our privileges is that we are allowed to watch television. I receive a TV Guide every week, and the first thing I do when I get it, is check Saturday night, and see what is on your show. Then I let my friends here know what’s playing, too, so that they can get a little horror-show happiness, along with my cellmate and myself. Here are some movies I’d really like to see in the future on your show:
The Keep (1983)
Evil Dead (1983)
The Crow (1993)
Thanks for your time. Forever your fan,
250535, Saginaw Correctional, Freeland, Michigan.”
JB: Isn’t that interesting?
Rusty: I guess
JB: I mean his first film request on his list is “The Keep,” a film about a prison. Anyhow, Saginaw is a serious prison. And you know how I know that? First of all, female warden. You don’t mess with these female wardens. Like Ida Lupino in “Women’s Prison.”
JB: Never mind. The warden there is Luella Burke, and you don’t escape from Luella’s joint. We asked for a description of the property. Listen to this: the perimeter of the prison is enclosed by a double 12-foot galvanized chainlink fence, topped with coiled stainless-steel razor-ribbon wire. This wire has also been installed in the open space between the fences, to enhance the barrior. Then an electric detection system has been placed on both the inner and outer fences. And in 1996, a third fence, with its own electronic detection system, was erected. Security cameras, they have security cameras strategically placed within the prison, around the perimeter, and they have 24-hour remote observation video-taping of all prisoner activities. They added gun towers in 1997. They have a perimeter vehicle with armed personnel on patrol 24 hours a day. Bottom line here – don’t mess with Luella.
Fairly new prison, just opened in 1993. 1250 inmates. They have minimum security, medium & maximum, all in one place, so appreciate it, Spider. Free your mind and your butt will follow.
Rusty: Why do they need 3 fences?
JB: I dunno. Luella wasn’t happy with two fences. It’s like those women who put Tupperware containers inside other Tupperware containers.
Rusty: Oh please!
JB: I’m telling you, it’s different when they have women wardens.
Rusty: You don’t think women should do that job?
JB: No, I think ONLY women should do that job. They’re good at it. Back to “The Devil’s Rain.” Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, in a grimacing contest. You’re doing a great job, Rusty. Take a tip from Luella: put 3 fences around me and don’t let me go (Rusty laughs at him and leaves)
The Devil's Rain, Break #6
Always one of our favorite parts, “Prepare the virgin.” Well, wait a minute! She’s definitely not a virgin, cause she’s been aardvarking with Tom Skerritt for quite a while now, so, I think they’re getting their Satanism all messed up here. You need a virgin for this, right? And they have no excuse because in that scene you just watched, one of the high priests is Anton LaVey himself. He was the “satanism” technical consultant on the movie. In real life, he was the high priest of the Church of Satan, which he founded in 1966. Waited a while to do that, didn’t he? You guys know where the Church of Satan headquarters is, anybody? San Francisco!! Where else? Anton LaVey. We also saw him playing the Devil in Rosemary’s Baby. Those are his eyes that Mia Farrow sees in her sexual nightmare. But before he became the most famous professional devil-worshipper in the movies, he was the Second Oboist in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. That’ll do it to you, won’t it? He was also a lion tamer in the Clyde Beatty Circus, he was a professional calliope player, he was a freak-show operator, he was a photographer for the San Francisco Police Dept., and then the Church lived on after Anton’s death in 1997. And you can still go to their website, and they’ll give you a lot of tips on how to live a truly Satanic life including – this is my favorite part – where to buy witch’s shoes. Wonder if they’re like the ones the wicked witch of the west wore?
All right, you’ve been wondering, “What’s the deal with this movie?” This movie’s famous. Why is this movie famous? This movie doesn’t look that special. Well you’re about to find out why it caused a little sensation, in the last, big, special effects sequence. And remember, this kind of on-screen goo-fest was virtually unknown in 1975, so put down the Doritos. Put a paperclip over the end of the bag so you can’t smell them or be reminded of food of any kind. And, enjoy!
[fading] And by the way, that’s the yummy Joan Prather who’s about to be sacrificed on Satan’s alter. Whatever happened to her? Joan call in! Joan Prather, a graduate of the upscale Highland Park High School in Dallas. Always gotta mention those Texas connections. We ALL eventually come out here [crew laughs]
The Devil's Rain, Outro
Ahhhh, I don’t think they showed enough gooey, sloppy, melting faces. Can’t we have 4 or 5 more of those things? How long did that thing go on? And who can forget the eternal image of Ida Lupino clawing off her own face, at the end of the classic “Devil’s Rain.” And, also, that was John Travolta in his very first film appearance, as the guy who finds the book and gives it to Ernest Borgnine. Not a bad double-bill for our first week here in L.A.
Next week, we’ve got the incredibly sick and funny Fargo as our first feature, followed by a special late-night MonsterVision screening of “To The Limit,” one of the finest Anna Nicole Smith / Joey Travolta action-thrillers ever made in Las Vegas. Smith can’t act her way out of a paper bag, but takes lots of showers. Until then, I’m Joe Bob Briggs for Joe Bob’s Saturday Night, reminding you that if you smoke after sex, you’re doing it too fast.
You guys hear about Bill Clinton’s new computer? It has 6 inches of hard drive and no memory.
You know the difference between a gentile wife and a Jewish wife? The gentile wife says, “Why didn’t you buy any Viagra?” The Jewish wife says, “Why didn’t you buy any Pfeiser?” I’m Joe Bob Briggs, the drive-in will never die!
That went right over your head, didn’t it? [no reaction from crew]
Did you guys hear about the Chicago salesman who takes a business trip to Boston? And he has a few hours to kill before he catches his plane home, so he remembers his old friend’s advice to try some boiled scrod while he’s there – supposed to be a favorite fish is Boston. So he hops into a cab and he asks the driver, “Hey, do you know where I can get scrod around here?” And the cab driver says, “Pal, I’ve heard that question a thousand times, and this is the first time I’ve heard it in the passive subjective tense.”
[TNT announcer] See a city’s biggest fear, come to life, with the Oscar-winning Earthquake, starring Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, next on 100% Weird
Ida Lupino directed The Hitch-Hiker
Joe Bob also enjoyed Ernest Borgnine in The Neptune Factor,
being menaced by giant goldfish on the bottom of the ocean. Now there's something Nostradamus never predicted!
About 1 out of every 100 adult Americans are in prison
Monstervision 100% Weird Movie description & MonsterVision host segments script
© 1999 & 2000 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved