Friday, September 11, 2015

The Rain Killer

He isn’t credited on the print, but you can tell Roger Corman was the executive producer of THE RAIN KILLER, because Maria Ford plays a stripper in it. Sliding into a few theaters under Corman’s Califilm label, this serial-killer thriller is also notable for its camerawork by Janusz Kaminski, who would escape the direct-to-video world in three years to become Steven Spielberg’s cinematographer, beginning with SCHINDLER’S LIST.

Also on the cusp of bigger things: co-star Michael Chiklis, who played the title role in THE COMMISH beginning the next year and went on to THE SHIELD and two FANTASTIC FOUR movies. The star of THE RAIN KILLER is Ray Sharkey, who supported Chiklis in 1989’s WIRED and was just coming off an acclaimed run on WISEGUY. He was already HIV positive, due to his heavy drug use, and he died of AIDS in 1993.

With Kaminski involved, THE RAIN KILLER is a good-looking movie for its budget level. Writer Ray Cunneff, whose experience was in daytime television, and debuting director Ken Stein held no illusions about what kind of film they were making, staging two bloody knife murders in the first few minutes. The serial killer, who wears a hat and raincoat, is targeting women in a support group for drug addicts. And wouldn’t you know that investigating detective Sharkey’s new partner, straight-laced FBI agent David Beecroft (FALCON CREST), is married to a member (Tania Coleridge)?

Sharkey and Coleridge begin a sexual relationship, which is bad for Beecroft (who still loves her) and bad for us, because the two actors have no chemistry. Nor does Sharkey strike any sparks with Beecroft. Whether he was high, receiving poor direction, or just didn’t care, Sharkey seems lost and unfocused in THE RAIN KILLER and unable to gel with his co-stars while chewing scenery inappropriately. Not that anyone else in the movie is delivering a great performance — not even Chiklis, whose character is confined to the baseball caps he wears.

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