Thursday, April 8, 2010

Race with the Devil (1975)

Race With the Devil
Written by Lee Frost & Wes Bishop
Directed by Jack Starrett

Roger Marsh...Peter Fonda
Frank Stewart...Warren Oates
Alice Stewart...Loretta Swit
Kelly Marsh...Lara Parker

Motorcycle enthusiasts Frank and Roger take their significant others on an off-season vacation to Aspen, Colorado.  Rather than make their Betty's ride bitch on the back of their hogs, they opt to travel in the lap of luxury:  an enormous mobile home with all the trimmings, a wet bar and a color TV among them.  But long before they reach their intended destination--at the end of their first day on the road in fact--the trip takes a detour into the backwoods of weird.

Camped out in the secluded wilderness, the brothers witness what they perhaps first to believe to be a harmless hippie trip-out in the distance, alit by a roaring bonfire.  But the festivities turn from hippie and trippy to evil and bloody in the blink of an eye when a nudie cutie is offered up in sacrifice.

Fleeing the scene, the vacationers seek assistance from the local police, but their help is nominal at best.  Back on the road, it seems that everyone they encounter is hiding something, everyone is suspect.  Is it simply paranoia, or does this tribe of devil dancers have such an impossible reach?

At the risk of spoilers...what do you think?

The characters may not be fully fleshed out (the relationships between the main characters were never explored, nor did the aforementioned motorcycle mania ever come into play), but you can't help but love the casting: Peter Fonda, the great Warren Oates, and Hot Lips Houlihan?  Hell yeah!

While not an entirely original plot, what could have been and perhaps should have been  standard low-rent drive-in fare somehow turns out to be something else entirely: a hell of a good time!  And an exciting and tense movie to boot!

With some hella good chase scenes, ably enacted moments of paranoia, and quite possibly the greatest Man-Vs.-Snake scene ever captured on celluloid (sorry Sammy L.), this one starts off a little slow but kicks into high gear quickly enough, revving up to a chilling and fitting finale.

Imagine a nutty fruitcake comprised of equal parts Duel and The Hills Have Eyes, and you're already halfway there.  I've seen this one in the literal dollar bin (and am kicking myself for not picking it up!), so there's no excuse for not seeing this movie, hipsters.

View the trailer below!

Rated PG
88 Minutes
United States

"If you're going to race with the devil, you've got to be as fast as Hell!"

Race With the Devil
       (buy it!)


  1. I read about this one a while back. I thought it was curious how it mixed to kinds of film genres into one, the chase movie (like Vanishing Point or Two Lane Blacktop) with the devil worshipping movie (like Devils Rain or Rosemary's Baby) pretty genius move right there since both of these kinds of movies were the big thing back in those days. Im really curious for this one, Ill be adding it to my must watch list.

  2. I bought this blindly at f.y.e. a few months back and have still yet to watch it. Somehow I've only been watching movies that I don't own lately. Excited to hear I should give it a try soon!

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  4. Funny, I caught this one on TCM Underground last week. Perhaps the forthcoming remake will prompt someone to rerelease the currently OOP DVD. And other such anagrams.

    It's not a brilliant movie, but it does just enough intelligently that you don't mind the cliches so much. The car chase at the end is refreshing in light of today's shaky-cam aesthetic--you actually feel the power of stunt drivers doing things rather than the editor manufacturing a chase out of little pieces with murky lighting. And the sacrifice scene was very well done. Something about large groups of people chanting tonelessly is incredibly creepy to of the reasons I don't go to church anymore.


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