Race with the Devil
|Race with the Devil|
Promotional movie poster for the film
|Directed by||Jack Starrett|
|Produced by||Paul Maslansky
|Written by||Wes Bishop
|Music by||Leonard Rosenman|
|Edited by||John F. Link|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$12 million |
Race with the Devil is a 1975 occult thriller and action film 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. Wes Bishop scripted the film with Lee Frost. The two had previously teamed up in 1972 for the camp classic The Thing With Two Heads.
Roger Marsh (Peter Fonda) and Frank Stewart (Warren Oates) own a successful motorcycle dealership in San Antonio, Texas. Together, with their wives Kelly and Alice (Lara Parker, Loretta Swit), 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 the local sheriff (R.G. Armstrong), 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 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 town 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 a convoy of trucks and cars. Roger and Frank kill or wound most of the attackers and escaped.
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 filmed 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 he probably stated this for publicity purposes. Starrett directed the similar B-movie action film A Small Town in Texas the following year.
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 Peter Fonda 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. Kevin Smith has said that Race With the Devil is a strong influence on his 2011 film Red State.
- 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
- "Race with the Devil, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- "Internet Movie Database, Filming Locations for Race with the Devil". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- "Internet Movie Database, Trivia for Race with the Devil". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- "Internet Movie Database, Biography for Jack Starrett". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- Solomon p 232
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 46
- "Rotten Tomatoes, News Item 6 Apr 2005". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2007-07-19.[dead link]
- Kevin Smith Compares 'Red State' to 'Race With the Devil'
- Race with the Devil at the Internet Movie Database
- Race with the Devil at AllMovie
- Review at The Terror Trap
- Eccentric Cinema Review