Race with the Devil

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Race with the Devil
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Starrett
Produced by
Written by
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Cinematography Robert Jessop
Edited by John F. Link
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 27, 1975 (1975-06-27)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.745 million[2]
Box office $12 million[3]

Race with the Devil is a 1975 American action horror film directed by Jack Starrett, written by Wes Bishop and Lee Frost, and starring Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker. This was the second of three films Fonda and Oates would star in together (The Hired Hand was their first and 92 in the Shade was their third). The film was a hybrid of the horror, action and car chase genres.


Roger Marsh and Frank Stewart own a successful motorcycle dealership in San Antonio, Texas. Together with their wives Kelly and Alice, along with Kelly’s small dog, they leave San Antonio in a recreational vehicle (RV) for a much anticipated ski vacation in Aspen, Colorado. Along the way, they set up camp in a desolate meadow of central Texas, where Roger and Frank race their motorcycles together. Later that night after their wives retire to the RV, the men witness what turns out to be a Satanic ritual human sacrifice a short distance from their campsite across a river.

After being chased by the Satanists and barely escaping with their lives, they arrive in a small town and report the incident to Sheriff Taylor, who investigates but attempts to convince them that they probably only saw hippies killing an animal. Unbeknownst to the sheriff, Roger steals a sample of dirt stained with the murder victim's blood, intent on delivering it to the authorities in Amarillo.

At the same time, the wives find a cryptic message, a rune, pinned to the broken rear window of the RV while cleaning, and steal books about occultism from the local library to further research the incident, unaware they're being watched by a man in a red truck. One of the books reveals that the ritual is what Satanists often perform to gain magical powers. As the foursome leaves town, the sheriff notices the red truck that begins to follow them, making it clear that he is either aware or part of the Satanic cult.

When the couples arrive at an RV park, Kelly feels she is being stared at by its residents while in a swimming pool, and wants to return home. A couple at the park invites them to dinner. While at the restaurant/nightclub, Kelly again feels she is being stared at menacingly, this time by one of the musicians. When they return from dinner, they discover that Kelly's dog has been killed and hanged, causing them to immediately leave the park. Shortly afterwards, they are forced to fight off two rattlesnakes planted in the RV by the cultists. The frightened Kelly and Alice scream and panic, causing Frank to accidentally drive into a tree and break the motor's fan before the snakes are killed.

The next day Kelly's dog is buried. Roger and Frank then repair the motor and find their motorbikes' tires and wheels cut. They purchase a shotgun and head towards Amarillo while being spied on by a steadily increasing number of cultists who seem to be networked throughout numerous small Texas towns. When Roger tries to call long distance for the highway patrol, he finds one dead payphone and another with a "bad connection" and is told that long distance service is down by a "big wind from up north".

The couples leave for Amarillo and are chased by the Satanists in various trucks before escaping. Later, they encounter a staged school bus "accident" that Frank sees through since it's being done on a Sunday and none of the children appear hurt. They flee the scene and have a showdown with the cult members during another high-speed chase that pits their RV against numerous trucks and cars. Roger and Frank kill and injure most of the attackers, and they escape.

The foursome stop in a field at nightfall as they cannot continue until morning since the RV’s headlights had been damaged during the chase. They begin to celebrate when they pick up a radio signal coming from Amarillo. In the middle of their celebration, they hear chanting outside the RV and find themselves surrounded by cult members wearing black robes with hoods, including Sheriff Taylor and the couple with whom they had dinner. The film ends as the cultists light a ring of fire around the RV, trapping the couples inside while the chanting continues.


  • John Buckley ("uncredited") as Satanist


Race with the Devil was shot on location in San Antonio, Castroville, Tarpley, and Leakey, Texas. Director Jack Starrett later claimed he hired actual Satanists to serve as cult-member extras, though the statement was likely for publicity purposes.[4][5] Starrett directed the similar B-movie action film A Small Town in Texas the following year.[6]


The film was released theatrically in the United States by 20th Century Fox in June 1975. It earned North American rentals of $5.8 million.[7][8]

Critical reception[edit]

Race with the Devil received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 57% rating based on 7 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10.[9]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2005. This version is currently out of print.

On April 12, 2011, the film was released on DVD through Shout! Factory, packaged as a double feature with another Peter Fonda film, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. As of June 4, 2013, this double feature set is available on Blu-ray and is now online for streaming rental and purchase through Amazon Video, Apple ITunes Store and Vudu.


A remake was planned in 2005, written by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, with Chris Moore (of Project Greenlight fame) to serve as director.[10] Kevin Smith has said that Race With the Devil is a strong influence on his 2011 film Red State.[11]

The film was also the basis for the Tamil language film Kazhugu (Eagle) which was released in 1981, and Drive Angry, starring Nicolas Cage, in 2011.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RACE WITH THE DEVIL (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. June 19, 1975. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p258
  3. ^ "Race with the Devil, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Internet Movie Database, Filming Locations for Race with the Devil". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  5. ^ "Internet Movie Database, Trivia for Race with the Devil". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  6. ^ "Internet Movie Database, Biography for Jack Starrett". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  7. ^ Solomon p 232
  8. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 46
  9. ^ "Race with the Devil (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes, News Item 6 Apr 2005". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19. [dead link]
  11. ^ Kevin Smith Compares 'Red State' to 'Race With the Devil'

External links[edit]