Rain of Fire aka The Chosen aka Holocaust 2000 (1977)

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.

Name That Trauma:: Vi on a Woman in a Red Dress, a Headless Doll & a Frosty Windsheild

Hello! I recently discovered your site, and spent (no lie) about a day and a half going through the archives trying to see if I could find a movie that no amount of googling has been able to turn up. It was something my mom was watching that I caught pieces of in the early 90s. I think it was a made for TV movie, because of the quality of the production, but it could also have just been an older feature film (I want to say it was made in the late 70s to early 80s, going by the guy’s haircut that I can remember). Here is what I can remember, in non-chronological order:

*A woman in a red dress with long dark hair who either lost a baby, or wants one to the point where she is treating a doll as a real baby.

*The abusive husband/boyfriend of crazy red dress lady, who at one point flips the hell out, and rips the doll away from her and tears its head off.

*A mother and daughter are driving in a car, when the windshield suddenly starts to frost over/crystallize, causing them to panic.

I think the aforementioned daughter was kidnapped by Mr. and Mrs. Crazypants at one point. Crazy red dress lady eventually is killed by her equally crazy man. I think this event is seen as a vision by another one of the characters, who sees the man hulk-out in rage as the background flashes in a weird effect. This may have happened immediately after he tears the head off the doll, but I don’t think so. Her body is found on a shore, but I don’t remember if it washed up or if it was ditched there.

I’m pretty sure there was some supernatural element to the movie, hence the vision and the windshield weirdness. It’s also possible that I’m merging elements from different movies in my head. The weird flashing background as the guy flips out gave me nightmares, and I haven’t been able to forget it!



Sunday Viewing Suggestion :: Darkko on Abby (1974)

Abby (1974) starts with a group of students talking to Dr. Williams, who is an expert on the deity of chaos and trickery, Eshu. Soon to be leaving for Nigeria on an archeological expedition, his students give him a sweet silver cross necklace as a going away gift.

While exploring caves, they find a box with a carving on it. More specifically, it’s Eshu with an erection. I can’t be sure, but as they struggle with how to open it, I think they end up twisting the wooden boner. Dr. Williams exclaims, “Yes, of course!”

The box is opened, dust flies everywhere, and there are several demon cut away flashes of what looks like a female Hulk (Lou Ferrigno style).

Eshu proceeds to make an instantaneous cross continental journey back to good ole’ Louisville, Kentucky to wreck havoc on Dr. William’s daughter-in-law (Abby) and extended family! What follows is a passive aggressive possession of Abby and her violent sexual adventures. I mean, why didn’t Eshu just go after Dr. Williams and his team in Nigeria? When Reverend Emit (Abby’s husband) calls Dr. Williams to tell him what’s going down, Dr. Williams takes a stab at logic and thinks it’s because Abby is overwhelmed by, “All the Church and community activities.” At one point, Abby feels like some kind of Saturday Night Fever/Exorcist splice up. Disco/funk music plays in the background as Abby alternates between being horny and picking up guys in a bar, to violently tossing these same guys across the room while laughing maniacally.

The cornucopia of expletives that flows forth from possessed Abby’s mouth is reason enough to watch this film! As Abby says, “Killing is too much fun!”

Warner Bros. sued the filmmakers and won for copyright infringement of The Exorcist(1973). Abby was actually removed from theaters in 1974 and did not resurface again until 2004!! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Name That Trauma:: Kristine on a Giant Glue Trap Made for People

I am a huge horror fan and have been since I was a kid. I watched all the horror shows I could. One that stuck with me was one where there were people in a room that had a sticky floor and they were trying to get out of it. I want to say in the end it was revealed to be just a giant glue trap made for people. I have no idea what it was from and I did some searching and I know it is not from Tales from the Dark Side, Tales from the Crypt or even the Monsters series. I do know that it was in color and not back and white so we can eliminate the old Twilight Zone episodes. I want to say this was during the late ’80s to the late ’90s. If you horror fans can help me remember it I will be eternally grateful.

Traumafession:: Ytje V. on The Box of Delights

To be honest , I never was that adventurous or courageous when it came to suspenseful and creepy TV series. I got scared easily. My mother probably meant well when she suddenly would change channels because she thought something might upset me. She once even put her hands over my eyes while I was watching a TV show; she thought some monster on the screen might scare me. I think her sudden shrieking and putting her hands over my eyes was more scary than anything that might’ve been on the telly at that very moment.

My parents subscribed to a TV guide. The other magazines my parents subscribed to were too boring to even flip through, so I devoured every issue of the TV guide with gusto.. I must’ve been seven or eight years old when I saw a TV series that I just knew would be great to watch. I persuaded my parents to let me watch it, I even told my friends at school that I was going to watch a great TV show. It would be magic! I would be adventurous for once! I felt great.

The series was called Box of Delights. There is quite some praise for this series, even after its release, some thirty years ago. The story revolves around a magic box, given to a boy by a magician. Dark forces want to get hold of the box, so suspenseful adventure would be duly unfolding, or so I thought.

I didn’t make it through the first episode.

At some point during episode one I realized I got more than I bargained for. Why had I persuaded my parents letting me watch this? Why had I bragged at school?

I knew retreat would be imminent. And I know the exact moment; when ‘Rat’ (a man, made up and costumed as a stinky, skeevy rat) reared its ugly head. I jumped up from the couch, did a spin and buried my head in a couch cushion. I think I cried. I was so disappointed; in myself and in the show that dared to be way too horrifying.

Needless to say I had raging nightmares that night.

In recent years I did try my best to find Box of Delights online. Because the series aired under a different title (original title loosely translated to Dutch) I had a difficult time actually finding it. But when I did, I was delighted.

I can see why Box of Delights scared me, but there are other scenes standing out now, that I find very creepy. The leader with the freaky puppet! Those priests! The fake looking make up on the old magician to make him look aging and wise!

Because I couldn’t find other reviews or confessions deeming Box of Delights scary, I consider myself alone in this.

Well, not all alone. In fact, my sister, who’s four years younger than I, would start crying just by seeing a picture of Rat. There was a picture of Rat in the TV listings, along with the article about Box of Delights. That’s right. I already knew there would be a creepy character somewhere in the series and I still thought I could make it.

My brother would taunt my sister by sneaking up on her and brandishing the TV guide. My mom got so fed up that she took a pair of scissors and cut the picture out. She did this very neatly. Because the week wasn’t done yet, we still needed it.

Here’s the first episode (part one anyway):

I also included a pic of Rat. Man, is that guy creepy!

Name That Trauma:: M.W. on a Skeleton Glider Picnic

In the late 1950s or early 1960s I watched a movie on television that scared the hell out of me. Help! Do you know what movie it was?

It was about a jovial group of friends who went on a picnic where they took turns going up in a glider plane in smaller groups. One of these small groups of friends went up in the glider plane and neither the plane or the group returned.

Either on the first anniversary of the disappearance of the glider and their friends, or years later on the anniversary of the disappearance of the glider and their friends, the surviving friends went to the exact same location to picnic and remember their friends.

And guess what . . . the glider returned and in it were the skeletons of their friends.

Scary stuff!

Do you know the name of this movie, or maybe it was a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Help! I want to see this again.

UNK SEZ: Thanks for writing in, M.W.! I got lucky with some googling and I think I found your Skeleton Glider Picnic! It seems you are remembering an episode of ONE STEP BEYOND entitled “Reunion”. If the Youtube comments are any indication you are not the only person with a strong memory of this episode. Interestingly, there seems to be some debate about wether the skeleton was originally shown or if viewers just remember it that way based on the narrator’s description. Watch below and let us know if it is anything like you remember!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Daniel on a Cheeky Doll in a TV Studio

Hello my name is Daniel, and first of all I wanted to say thank you! I have been a fan of your site for years. Without your site, I never would have seen Summer Girl!

Anyway, I can’t remember the name of an early 1990s horror movie. I thought it was called “Time Killer” or “Timekill“?, but sadly no. The basic plot is a man in a TV studio, it almost seems like he is on some kind of soundstage, and he holds a small doll with puffy cheeks, and there are lots of shots of the doll, and also a weird announcer dude. The whole movie is very dark, almost no daylight shots. I think there are a couple kill scenes, but its super minimal/atmospheric.

I rented it once from a video store in 2002, lol! It was one of the scariest movies I have ever seeeeeen!

Any help would be appreciated.


Sunday Viewing:: Offerings (1989)

What does OFFERINGS (1989) have against me? I was not even able to finish it the first time I tried to watch it back somewhere in that missing decade. I am forever searching for that elusive hidden classic and I doubt I was too far into OFFERINGS before I realized it wasn’t classic and should probably stay hid. Its title evaporated in my head but it left all this stupid debris anyway. Sometimes I’d wonder to myself, “What was that movie with the terrifyingly hideous orange wallpaper?” or “What was that stupid movie that had that poorly executed bit about kids eating pizza with human flesh on it thinking it was sausage?” or “What the heck was that boring movie with the strange cake eating parents who laugh maniacally while watching cartoons?” In all cases the answer was the same; gosh darn OFFERINGS. This was before KT so it wasn’t like I could write up a Name That Trauma and Googling “hideous orange wallpaper” would get me nowhere. Plus there was the fact that I had absolutely no desire to watch whatever movie it was again to consider. That really curtailed the search.

Then again, dipping my psychological pigtails in ink is a great way for a crap-tastic movie to endear itself to me and it’s not as if my sensibilities have not nose-dived towards the bottom of the barrel lately. OFFERINGS is terrible and rather hypnotically so. It’s like watching a dozen HALLOWEEN rip offs in one sitting because it goes on forever and whatever trance everybody in this movie is in, is highly contagious. Let’s face it too that at the end of the day I’d rather see something atrociously flawed than something all Hollywood-sanitized and pruned of all character. It’s my curse.

Here’s an example of why OFFERINGS is maddeningly stuck in my craw. One scene finds our dazed heroine preparing dog food for the family pooch. Her front door bell rings and so she goes to answer it carrying a full spoon of dog food because who has time to put a spoon down? At the door is her friend who sees the spoon sporting an unidentified substance and then bends down and eats whatever it may be and is alarmed to find that she has just eaten dog food. Who does that? And more importantly why am I so fascinated by the idea that somebody out there at one point thought human beings might behave this way. I will give points for the line, “Serves you right!” which is the spoon girl’s response to her friend’s insane actions because truer words have never been spoken. There are dozens more inexplicable occurrences in this guesstimated 9-hour long movie but I should really just let them go and move on with what is left of my squandered existence.

Maybe you shouldn’t watch it. Maybe you should just put it on and do something else while listening to its wonderfully shameless rip-off score. It’s up to you. All I know is that I found it on YouTube with a better picture than I recall and spectacularly enhanced with spicy Spanish subtitles! Yay! It’s called OFFERINGS because the killer leaves random body parts like ears and noses behind as gifts. If it was up to me though, I would have titled it THE HOUSE WITH THE SCREAMING WALLPAPER.