There’s nothing like scrounging through a used DVD bin. Thank God there are still a few places in my vicinity where I can do that. Buying off of the Internet may be convenient and all, but it kills the thrill of the hunt and robs fate of its chance to shove something in your face that you didn’t know you wanted. Synchronicity and serendipity teamed up to insure that RAIN OF FIRE and I should collide. Recently while flipping through some movies at a favorite haunt, I knocked a bunch of DVDs on the ground and there it was just staring up at me. It was ugly and I wondered if it was in the wrong section. It was dressed like a public domain reject. It had the worst cover art ever sporting a shame faced KIRK DOUGLAS standing in front of a wall of fire. So much for love at first sight.
Luckily curiosity got the better of me and I investigated the back of the case. I was shocked to see LION’S GATE had put out this dreadful looking package and then I thought about it for a second and remembered that they have no idea what they are doing. Hold up now! Turns out RAIN OF FIRE was directed by ALBERTO DeMARTINO, the loon that brought us THE TEMPTER and the music was done by our pal ENNIO MORRICONE! The synopsis even mentions something about the devil. This is an apocalyptic Italian Satan flick! At $2.99, pathetic packaging or not, I was sold.
Some folks may complain that RAIN (aka HOLOCAUST 2000 aka THE CHOSEN aka LUCIFER’S CURSE) is a brazen OMEN rip-off, but to me that’s nothing to complain about. Truth told it doesn’t resemble THE OMEN so much as it does OMEN 3: THE FINAL CONFLICT, which is kinda impressive considering that in 1977 that sequel hadn’t been made yet. I guess RAIN saw where THE OMEN series was heading and decided to cut it off at the pass. Between you and me, I found it to be more entertaining than OMEN 3 (though it’s still nowhere near as good as OMENS 1&2) though maybe I should watch that one again just to be sure. Eh, on second thought, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just say any and all end of the world movies involving the devil are welcome here.
DOUGLAS plays a rich business dude who wants to build a nuclear power plant and his son SIMON WARD couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the plan because he is secretly the antichrist and doesn’t mind destroying the entire world if the opportunity should arise. This movie is not quite as wacky as our beloved THE VISITOR (what is?) but it is certainly cut from the same nutso Italian cloth and features quite a few of its own inexplicable, psychedelic sanity lapses. What really gives it a lead over OMEN 3 though is the fact that at one point some guy gets the top of his head sliced off by a helicopter propeller a’la DAWN OF THE DEAD which by the way, was still a year away. Guess which movie I think handles the effect better? Hint: my answer is absolute horror fan sacrilege.
Another big plus to this movie is DOUGLAS and his impossible chin. This is far down on the list of roles he’ll be remembered for but the guy has unquestionable presence and brings a certain ‘70s disaster-vibe to the table. I appreciate the novelty of having an older male lead even as I question the choice to have him run about buck-naked in so many scenes. Hey, it was the seventies. The ending probably could have used some retooling, as anything besides the total annihilation of mankind is a let down for such a flick but I was never bored which is more than I can say for my experience with OMEN 3 (there I go again).
What can I say? This movie has a lovely glass insane asylum where everybody is fond of taupe and beige where one guy gets his head smashed into hamburger, a bit where medical professionals are fine with fulfilling DOUGLAS’ instructions to pretend to give his pregnant gal pal (AGOSTINA BELLI) a routine check-up while actually performing an unwanted abortion and it has a nifty, giant seven-headed dragon monster that symbolizes a nuclear power plant. And it’s all wrapped in this swell “Save the Earth” wrapper that GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER would totally approve of.
One thing is for sure, RAIN deserves something more than being completely forgotten. If punch-drunk, THE VISITOR can be reappraised and applauded for its idiosyncrasies, I don’t see why RAIN OF FIRE can’t be to. If you like cleft chins, Italian rip-offs, the satanic seventies or all of the above, pray to the antichrist that this flick falls into your life. And take a lesson from me; never judge a movie by its DVD cover.