Race with the Devil

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For the Girlschool album, see Race with the Devil (album).
Race with the Devil
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Starrett
Produced by
  • Wes Bishop
  • Paul Maslansky
Written by
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Cinematography Robert Jessop
Edited by John F. Link
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 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 Roger and 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 caught by the Satanists and barely escaping with their lives, they report the incident to Sheriff Taylor, who investigates their report 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 back window while cleaning, and steal books about occultism from the local library to further research the incident, one such book reveals the ritual is what Satanists often perform to gain magical powers. As the foursome leaves town, the sheriff knowingly sees a red truck begin to follow them, making it clear that he is either aware or part of the Satanic cult.

When the couples stay at a trailer park, Kelly is stared at by its residents and wants to return home. A couple at the park invites them to dinner, When they return from dinner, they discover that Kelly's dog has been killed and hanged, causing them to immediately leave the park in a panic. Shortly afterwards, they fight off two rattlesnakes planted in their camper by the cultists. The next day, Roger and Frank purchase a shotgun and head towards Amarillo, spied on by a steadily increasing number of cultists who seem to be networked throughout numerous small Texas towns. When Roger tries to use payphones to call the highway patrol, he is told of a "bad connection" and that the long distance lines are down throughout their towns by a "big wind from up north".

The couple leaves for Amarillo and stage a showdown with the cult members during a high speed chase that pits their RV against numerous trucks and cars. Roger and Frank kill or wound most of the attackers and escape.

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



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 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.


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]