Horror Movie A Day: RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975)
If you’re going to race with the devil, you gotta be as fast as hell.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
So today the movie God’s guided me from yesterday’s 1975 Satanic cult flick THE DEVIL’S RAIN to today’s 1975 Satanic cult flick RACE WITH THE DEVIL.
I’ve had this DVD for at least 3 years and have had it actually in my DVD player in the past, but for whatever reasons I ended up not spinning it before tonight. I have to believe that the Alamo has played this film before, but I can’t remember it being on the schedule. I know I would have seen it there if I could have.
And I’m totally not a good friend. When Drew and Scotty were brought on to script the now dead remake a few years ago, I should have watched it then. I did gift Drew an original Race With The Devil one-sheet, though, so I think I made back some points…
You know, I’m a big, big fan of director Jack Starrett who helmed one of the great not-on-DVD titles THE GRAVY TRAIN (aka THE DION BROTHERS) as well as CLEOPATRA JONES, HOLLYWOOD MAN and the third WALKING TALL flick.
I had forgetten he directed RACE WITH THE DEVIL until the opening credits were rolling. You ever have that happen? Where you know something, but your memory selectively erases it until you are reminded about it? That’s an odd feeling isn’t it?
Anyway, Starrett is at the top of his game here working with Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker and RG Armstrong on this cat and mouse game of a movie.
Basically you have two best friends and their wives going on a road trip from San Antonio to Aspen in a brand new RV. Peter Fonda and Warren Oates are the friends with MASH’s Loretta Swit Oates’ wife and DARK SHADOWS’ Lara Parker Fonda’s honey.
The trip starts out swell with lots of laughs and drinking, but when they decide to overnight in the boonies instead of at an RV park they see something they shouldn’t. Across a small river is a hill where a giant bonfire is lit. Surrounding it are figures in black robes, chanting in dull tones.
Curious, Fonda and Oates watch on. The girls in the cult shed their robes and gyrate against the horned, masked cult leader. Fonda and Oates look on, grinning, passing a pair of binoculars back and forth.
A new girl, very hot, very young, is brought in dressed in white. The cult leader disrobes her as the rest of the group hold her up. Suddenly a giant knife comes into the scene and before the drunk men’s horn-dog smiles have a chance to falter this poor girl is stabbed.
This is the “Oh Shit!” moment that starts the movie going. Of course, Swit comes out of the RV, calling for her husband and alerts the cultists to their presence and that’s the shot that starts the chase that lasts for the rest of the movie.
This movie has tits, shotgun blasts to the chests, cultists being brutally rundown, lots of asses, curse words and a dark, dark tone that leads to an even darker ending… and it’s rated PG. God Bless the ‘70s. Seriously. This movie couldn’t get a PG-13 today and might be a solid R without having to make any trims.
Warren Oates is so good in this movie, so natural. He’s not a cowboy, he’s just a man doing what he has to do. He’s a man’s man, a character actor of the highest caliber. Do we have a Warren Oates today? I remember Harry did an interview with Paul Giamatti where Giamatti talked about how his dream is to be this generation’s Warren Oates. I think he could do it, but he’s not there yet.
And this is my favorite era for Peter Fonda, too. I resprect EASY RIDER a lot, but it’s my favorite. It’s very enjoyable, but give me DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY any day of the week. He’s also very strong wielding a shotgun on the top of a speeding vehicle. Must have been a blast.
The girls aren’t given much to do, but scream and investigate the cult at a local library, but they do what they can with what they have. I like that they feel like real people, not models cast to look pretty at the camera. Lara Parker has an interesting side story that isn’t very much developed, but if it was it could have been something really special.
She begins to get extremely paranoid, suspecting everybody of being a Satanist and we have a few scenes seeing things from her prespective that are actually chilling. Random people, interesting faces pulled from the locals I’m sure, just staring at her, faces emotionless.
We don’t know if that’s reality or her reality fracturing before our eyes, but either way it adds to this feeling that everybody in the giant state of Texas is a Satanic cult member. The the last act it seems every fucking car on the road holds a cultist, every school bus, every state vehicle… everybody.
There’s a scene that you see coming the second you see the little yapping pampered rat dog that belongs to Lara Parker. That scene kicks off my favorite chunk of the movie as our group drives away from this RV park only to find “surprises” left in the RV by the cultists.
By “surprises” I, of course, mean a pair of pissed off rattlesnakes. Real fucking snakes. Striking at Warren Oates and Peter Fonda. I’ve seen a lot of snake movies, my friends (did I just turn into McCain?), and it is my distinguished opinion that this movie captures the scariest goddamn footage of rattlesnakes ever. These things don’t look happy. In fact, they look evil. It’s as if they found the evil league of rattlesnakes and took the scariest looking bastards in there, pulled out their fangs and threw them, still hurting, into this RV with Peter Fonda and Warren Oates.
These fuckers are scary. I’m not kidding.
The climactic chase scenes are everything you’d want in a B-picture of this era. Metal crunches metal, glass sprays, cars flips, trucks explode, stunt men get hurt real bad… It was everything I hoped for. And then the extremely abrupt ending (although not as abrupt as DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which is still the golden standard as far as I’m concerned) really hits you in the gut. Dark, bleak, depressing… in short, awesome.
Final Thoughts: What a fun ride this was. RACE WITH THE DEVIL, besides having the coolest tagline ever, really does have a little bit of everything. And ignore the horrible DVD cover, look at the poster art below. That’s what should have been on the DVD, not Peter Fonda looking creepily like an old Robert Evans. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, find it and watch it with a group of friends. It’s not “let’s laugh at how bad this is” fun, though, so get that thought out of your head. It’s a real fun flick with a crazy awesome second half full of huge car play and creepy cult attacks. I know a lot of people thought of double featuring this with DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY and I wouldn’t be against that, but the perfect follow-up to this movie, in my mind, is the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES… RV horror to RV horror… Just a thought if you’re building up some Halloween month lists…
Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October:
Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here!
I’ve added four more titles and have another 8-10 titles on the way, so be sure to click the above link and check out the new titles as they come in. Whatever we don’t randomly pull for this month will be added into the pool for the regular AMAD line-up.
Now it’s time to pull the next HMAD!
Tomorrow we will watch:
Hoo boy… The reputation that movie has… It’s the only title I could have pulled that actually has me nervous to put into the DVD player. I guess we’ll see tomorrow…
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Oct. 5, 2008, 2:31 a.m. CST
by nolan bautista
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:32 a.m. CST
by nolan bautista
..good stunts and the ending freaked me out
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:36 a.m. CST
on 70's B movies...clearly they're more fun than anything
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:39 a.m. CST
by nolan bautista
..when they first showed this in Manila (where i grew up)they cut out the (spoilers) downer ending (i dont know why..i guess the locals wanted a Hollywood ending)..
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:54 a.m. CST
It actually got its R rating. Shit, I didn't even see it until I hit up imdb. You know AICN is slacking when imdb reports shit first. Hell, with a hard R, for pervasive strong brutal violence, and McNulty playing Jigsaw, this actually sounds worth seeing.
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:55 a.m. CST
lol! I'd rather watch the Wraith again! Also, I think A stranger is watching, When a stranger calls, and He knows you're alone, are all the same film....maybe!?! Don't answer the phone!, too.
Oct. 5, 2008, 3:44 a.m. CST
Oct. 5, 2008, 3:56 a.m. CST
Very underated actor...lat few years he's had some good roles though.
Oct. 5, 2008, 4:11 a.m. CST
by Iowa Snot Client
When the two female leads attempt to sneak a reference book out of the small town library! A reference book! OMG I nearly vomited from the stress! P.S. Wasn't Mr. McWeeny "reimagining" this one at one time? Or just saying that he wanted to?
Oct. 5, 2008, 4:30 a.m. CST
This is probably one of the coolest things Ain't It Cool has EVER done!
Oct. 5, 2008, 6:42 a.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
I've never been able to watch Salo.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7 a.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
Perfect. And there are tits.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:03 a.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
you never really had to take in the first place.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:10 a.m. CST
Prior to this film WICCA did not exist. <p> Fonda and Oates who had many connections to both the drug and witchcraft culture in Hollywood needed something to define their magic practioners. <p> Thus WICCA was born. <p> For those of you who have no idea about Hollywood and Witchcraft check out Steve mcQueen or Sammy Davis jr and their dabblings. <p> What is interesting is Hollywood is now a three way fight between the Jews, The Witches and the Scientologists. The Witches may be losing, or at least they are quiter about it.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:47 a.m. CST
Don't do it. It is so boring I almost died watching it.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:52 a.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
it really doesn't sound that odd coming out of Hollywood.
Oct. 5, 2008, 8:18 a.m. CST
The truly scary thing is that the only way I could have ever seen this movie at all was on TV, and for some ungodly reason my parents actually let me watch it, and hell I must have been like in early grade achool! My generation grew up watching some weird/frightening shit I tell you, no wonder I'm so messed up.
Oct. 5, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
odd to say the least. He has some great movies, odd picks, took a break for a while, has "comebacks" in cameos, and bigger movies. Quite the smorgasborg. I actually enjoyed his made for TV version of Shakespeare's The Tempest which in this case was set in the Civil War era south. I never saw Ulee's Gold, but hear it was a great movie.
Oct. 5, 2008, 9:27 a.m. CST
by Dr Eric Vornoff
His Benny in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia may just be the greatest performance of all time. Race with the Devil is a cool, creepy flick which freaked me out a little when I saw it on the telly as a kid. The sense of dread when you realise that everyone is against them and there's no way out is palpable. <p> I saw Salo at a cinema in Leicester (UK)on it's re release a few years ago. The theatre was about a third-to-half full when it started; by the end there were only three of us left. I know Pasolini had serious intentions (and the film is beautifully made) but the film is so sickening that the only thing you take away from it is the desire to never see it again. <p> Oh, and no offence to Moriaty but I'm glad that remake fell through.
Oct. 5, 2008, 10:30 a.m. CST
by Drunken Rage
Saw it when I was a kid. Loved it. Re: Warren Oates: if you can find a copy of "China 9, Liberty 37," watch it immediately. An incredible movie by the criminally underrated Monte Hellman.
Oct. 5, 2008, 12:24 p.m. CST
I was a little kid and had no business watching it on television. My older sisters would chase me through the house screaming, "Race with the devil!" They were such loving and caring sisters.
Oct. 5, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST
This movie is just so fuckin 70's it couldn't exist in any form other than the original. I think that's why so many of these modern horror remakes just don't work. Those old cult classics are very much a product of their era.
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:08 p.m. CST
by Elemeno Pee
lousy use of a freeze-frame ending.
Oct. 5, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST
I've had this movie for a few years now (along with ("The Devils Rain" and "Incubus" I might add) and I enjoy throwing them on once in a while. BUT, the copy I have of Race With The Devil which I bought at either Amazon or DeepDiscount, the sacrifice victims tits are blurred out on purpose. So why mention tits in the interview when you can't really see them. I'm not obsessed with tits mind you (though I enjoy certainly my wife's from time to time!) but I found this blurring affect really fucking annoying and distracting in the film. Right at the crucial moment where she is about to get killed, and they are looking from across the way and everything, and there is a cheap old special affect used to police our minds in the middle of something that is supposed to shock us with a brutal reality. I listened to the commentary included on the disc and there is no mention of this. And I don't think I just happened to get a illegal version or something, its the only one out there in region 1 available. So, I'd love to know what Quint or anyone else thinks or knows about this. Why would they do that to this picture? Was it just to keep it from an R rating? Would that have really made that big a difference back then? Do prints exist without this crap? I mean, I'd prefer if people just kept their cloths on basically, but hey, if your going to show them, then fucking show them ya know?
Oct. 5, 2008, 3:41 p.m. CST
I don't know why I mean it's just a bunch of kids being forced to eat fake steaming poo.
Oct. 5, 2008, 5:19 p.m. CST
your sisters where nearly as bad as mine. Only mine used to chase me through the house screaming "we're gonna fucking kill you you little cunt"
Oct. 5, 2008, 5:20 p.m. CST
Is the original theatrical release was blurred, but you can clearly seem them boobies when the girl is being sacrificed.
Oct. 5, 2008, 5:48 p.m. CST
Just keep telling yourself "It's marmalade and chocco sauce". That is all.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:06 p.m. CST
Ok, I popped in my Anchor Bay dvd and had another look. Aside from a couple nude people running around in long distance shots, there are the two nude girls up close. The one in the white robe disrobes and is mainly obscured by the fire. There is a nude girl on the left that I had really not noticed before, I don't think. The main nude girl who disrobes the white robe is the one that is sacrificed and that was where my attention probably was here. The flames and heat of the fire I GUESS are the reason for the blurry affect. It just took me a bit off guard (the extent of it still seems a bit odd to me, bit its not a big deal). There are a few moments where she is moved into place for the sacrifice and it would seem like the blur affect from the fire would disappear but it remains kind of blurry. It's not as distinct or pronounced as I remember seeing it a couple years back, but even looking at it right now, I still cant tell for sure if they increased that blur on purpose with some sort of camera trick, or pull, or if its just a natural blur from the fire. But, again, its not as big a deal as I remember it and I don't think I ever notice the second girl next to her and she has clearly visible breasts with no blurring added. So, no big deal. Problem solved. Thanks for doing the review and making me dig into the film again for a second look to clear up things.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:09 p.m. CST
"There is a nude girl on the left that I had really not noticed before, I don't think." SHOULD READ, "nude girl on the right" not left. The sacrificed girl is on left obscured somewhat by fire, plus very visible nude chick on right.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST
There, I said it. The gauntlet has been flung; prove me wrong.
Oct. 5, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST
If you ever get the chance, I would be interested in your review of a film Christopher Lee was in titled The Devil Rides Out (1968). Have not seen that one yet.
Oct. 5, 2008, 8:11 p.m. CST
I totally agree! Damn the movies we watched on saturday or sunday afternoons! Classics, too. I think many of them are much more disturbing than the crappy horror movies put out today. And yes, I was in grade school too. F'd up I tell ya!
Oct. 5, 2008, 8:51 p.m. CST
I love Lara Parker. Its a shame she never got any bigger than Dark Shadows. She was gaaaaaaaaaaah-juss.
Oct. 5, 2008, 10:13 p.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
I Saw RACE WITH THE DEVIL When I Was A Kid. It stayed in my mind like very few movies do. It was on broadcast TV so all the nudity was removed. I kept thinking that LARA PARKER was going to be a witch in the film. She has those freaky eyes and had played supernatural roles before. It was neat to see Loretta Swit in something besides MASH and the CAGNEY & LACEY movie.
Oct. 5, 2008, 10:58 p.m. CST
by Catbarf the 12th
And I loved it. I don't think I'd ever seen it proper-like, but I remember it being on TV when I was a kid. I sort of remember the TV commercials for it (not the theatrical ads, but the movie of the week ads) and other 5th-grade or thereabouts kids at school talking about it and scaring the crap out of me. Anyway, good to finally see it. Great movie of the era. Not a bad choice for a child of the 70s to see this movie right around Halloween. Weird finally seeing it as an adult! And now with all those actors in some kind historical perspective. It's really become a minor legend of a film... I'd bet you a tuna sandwich that Quentin Tarantino probably has a copy, even if it's not his favorite.
Oct. 6, 2008, 12:06 a.m. CST
Love this 70's creepfest. Top to bottom tension. Oates/Fonda horror rules!
Oct. 6, 2008, 12:16 a.m. CST
Great film especially during the initiation... Christopher Lee is badass!!!! Charles Gray is a good bad guy, yet not quite a Satanist...
Oct. 6, 2008, 3:23 a.m. CST
by Boba Fat
Just to clarify, where are the shots of the tits again? I'm joking but as we get nearer to Halloween I'd love to see the AMAD talkbackers post their planned viewing for Oct 31st
Oct. 6, 2008, 5:19 a.m. CST
It was introduced into the states in 1954 by a retired british civil servant, after being a secret witchcraft practice for 100s of years in europe. Learn your 'craft'.
Oct. 6, 2008, 2:28 p.m. CST
From about 1979-1984 the 2nd unit stuff was used in many shows. The one I remember best was an episode of "The Fall Guy." They used almost all of the climatic RV chase that ends with the RV crashing. It's the same as when the first season of "JAG" used the footage from "Top Gun."<p>Oh, and you Buffy fans, where do you think they got the idea for using an RV in the 5th season?<p>Great Film!-----later-----m
Oct. 6, 2008, 3:35 p.m. CST
I love this movie. I thought a few years ago that they should remake this movie. But Hollywood would totally fuck it up and put dumb bitch Jessica Simpson or some daffy cunt in it and the ending would be happy and predictable. But of course Loreeta Swit being a retard yells out for the guys and THEY ALL DIE because of it. This movie has cool action and great car chases. It's a classic.
Oct. 8, 2008, 8:49 a.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
I thought Kevin Smith, at one point, said he was somehow involved in making a Jersey Devil flick. Back on topic, I really want to check Race w/ the Devil out. We're heading to a farmhouse in WestVirginia for the weekend. Would love to watch it on the way down.
Oct. 8, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST
although there was some obvious vaseline style blurring in a few shots it still would easily be an R today.
Oct. 8, 2008, 11:23 a.m. CST
there is so much cool art associated with this movie. idiots.
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