Sunday, February 22, 2015

Retro Movie: A "Race" Against Evil

There’s nothing like a good drive-in movie to cure the winter doldrums. We’ve been getting pounded with cold weather & snow here in the Northeast, but maybe we all just need to put some snacks together, grab a cold one, and huddle under the blankets to watch: Race With The Devil! This 1975 release is part action movie & part horror film. It features Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) & Warren Oates (Stripes), who portray two friends who own a motorcycle shop in Texas. They decide to head to Colorado with their wives in an RV and take a vacation. Along the way, they stop to race their bikes & later rest for the night. After their wives go to bed, the guys witness a girl being used as a human sacrifice by a satanic cult. The rest of the movie is a chase thriller, as our heroes try to escape the cult, who has marked them for death because they've witnessed the ritual killing.

The couples try to convince various people of what they saw, but no one believes them. Or do they? A sheriff who they relate their story to initially dismisses it, but he acts suspiciously. Everyone they run into as their journey goes on seems to act a little…odd. Strange things begin to happen; a cryptic rune is pinned to the door of the RV, rattlesnakes are released into the camper, and a dog owned by one of the couples is killed. There are car chases, close escapes & eerie occurrences. Will our heroes escape the clutches of this evil cult, who seem to have members & eyes everywhere? Is there any end to this terror in sight!?

Fonda & Oates are very good as the friends who are thrust into a fight for their lives, and Lara Parker (Dark Shadows) & Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) offer solid support as their spouses. Well known character actor R.G. Armstrong co-stars as the sheriff. Jack Starrett, who acted in & directed a few biker & action films in the 70s, helmed the film; he also has a cameo as a gas station attendant. The screenplay is by Wes Bishop & Lee Frost. Race With The Devil is a fast-paced movie that has an enjoyable combination of action & occult elements. It’s the kind of flick that played endlessly on the late show in the 70s & 80s. If you’re a fan of this type of genre movie, or enjoy any of the actors who star in the film, it’s worth watching.

Since I'm posting this on the day of this year's Oscar telecast, let's be clear that this movie certainly wasn't nominated for any awards. But it's a lot of fun, and a perfect example of solid B movie filmmaking. Race With The Devil is available on DVD & Blu-ray and has most recently been released as a double feature disc with another car chase film, 1974’s Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, which also features Peter Fonda. It’s a car chase/heist thriller, which co-stars Vic Morrow, Susan George &...Roddy McDowall!? Watch both films for a night of 70s drive-in style entertainment. Here’s a link to the trailer for Race With The Devil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqv6PIH_ymY. And remember, "When you race with the devil, you'd better be faster than hell!"


2 comments:

  1. Hello, John V! I enjoy reading your blog, but I have to say that you are a terrible influence on me, and are encouraging me to buy more DVDs. I had to pick up this movie after reading your write up. While I'm not a big fan of 70s car chase films, I was sold on this cast and the promise of satanic ritual. It was a suspenseful ride. Thanks for introducing me to a fun 70s film I had not heard of before!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christine, thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed "Race With The Devil." And, sorry for being a bad influence! ;)

      Delete