Monthly Archives: June 1976

Two Hack Reviews from 1976

Both these reviews appeared in the June 1976 issue of Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 43, no. 509). — J.R.


Devil’s Rain. The

U.S.A., 1975

Director: Robert Fuest


devil's rain

In a heavy storm, Steve Preston returns to his ranch-house on the brink of death, dissolving into a waxy liquid as he utters the name of Jonathan Corbis. His wife Emma subsequently disappears, and their son Mark [William Shatner] takes an amulet left by her (supposedly protection against Corbis’ power) and drives to the ghost town of Redstone. There Corbis [Ernest Borgnine], the leader of a Satanist cult, renders Mark defenseless by turning the amulet into a snake after Mark discovers that Emma his been enlisted into the sect. When Tom [Tom Skerritt], Mark’s younger brother, arrives in Redstone with his wife Julie [Joan Prather] to look for his family, Julie is captured and Tom witnesses a diabolical rite during which Mark, having undergone tortures, is initiated into the cult and Corbis is transformed into the devil himself. Tom returns to the Preston ranch, where Dr. Richards [Eddie Albert], a friend. of the family, explains that Corbis is the reincarnation of a 17th century witch betrayed by ancestors of the Prestons and burned at the stake, and that the Preston family has secretly preserved the ‘sacred book’ of names of people sworn to the devil which once belonged to Corbis and without which he cannot deliver those souls to Satan.… Read more »


From Monthly Film Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 509, June 1976. — J.R.

Sonny Rollins
(Sonny Rollins Live at Laren)
Netherlands, 1973
Director: Frans Boelen

The essential value of this film made for Dutch TV — a non-nonsense recording of the Sonny Rollins Quintet performing four numbers at the “International Jazzfestival” at Laren in August 1973 — is the music itself, and the unusual courtesy with which it is treated by the film-makers. Apart from a few brief pans across enthusiastic members of the audience, all the action is centered on stage, and the various angles caught by the two cameramen — each of whom is occasionally glimpsed in footage shot by the other — are all admirably related to a direct appreciation of the music, with none of the attempts to pump up excitement artificially that infect most jazz films, from St. Louis Blues (1929) to Jammin’ the Blues (1944) to Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959). Rollins, playing very close to the top of his form in recent years, begins “There Is No Greater Love” with one of his imaginative a capella intros before launching into the theme in medium tempo; serviceable solos follow from Matsuo [guitar], [Walter] Davis [Jr.] [piano] and [David] Lee [drums], and then a rousing return by the leader, improvising with unflagging energy before resuming the theme and ending with one of his Byzantine free-form cadenzas.… Read more »