Race with the Devil -USA, 1975 – reviews

‘God help you when the Devil wants you!’

Race with the Devil is a 1975 action horror feature film directed by Jack Starrett from a screenplay by Lee Frost (The Thing with Two Heads) and Wes Bishop. The movie stars starring Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker and R.G. Armstrong (The Beast Within; Evilspeak).

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Executive produced by Paul Maslansky (The Castle of the Living Dead, The She Beast), the film was an opportunistic hybrid of the horror, action and car chase genres.

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Plot:

Roger Marsh (Fonda) and Frank Stewart (Oates), with their wives Kelly and Alice (Lara Parker, Loretta Swit), leave San Antonio in a recreational vehicle for a ski vacation in Colorado. They decide to camp en route in a desolate area of central Texas, where they witness a Satanic ritual human sacrifice.

After barely escaping with their lives, they report the incident to the local sheriff (R.G. Armstrong), who investigates their report but attempts to convince the men that they probably only saw hippies killing an animal. When the men refuse to accept the sheriff’s explanation, it becomes clear that he is a part of the Satanic cult.

The couples agree to leave peacefully, but Roger steals a sample of dirt-stained with the murder victim’s blood, intent on delivering it to the authorities in Amarillo. As the couples head towards Amarillo, they are pursued by a steadily increasing number of cultists, who are networked throughout numerous small Texas towns…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …Race with the Devil could easily have been rote schedule filler of the William Girdler / William Grefe variety, but thankfully Starrett steps up to the plate with some surprisingly accomplished filmmaking, and Fonda and Oates can’t help but remain as charismatic as ever, irrespective of their intentions in taking on the project.’ Breakfast in the Ruins

“…an entertaining film but kind of a slow burn, with not a lot happening in the first half of the film. However, the second half is loaded with some amazing stunt work, the likes of which would probably all be done with CGI today.” Cinematic Obsessive

“Fouled only by a cop-out, unjustified nihilistic ending,Race with the Devil is a souped-up horror vehicle in love with the idea of speed. The emphasis is clearly on the “race” aspect of the title (rather than the “Devil” portion) and this is just fine. For this is a movie that moves, generating audience adrenaline via speed, stunts, action and demolition.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1970s

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“Poorly conceived and poorly executed, salvaged by pacy direction and fast cutting.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“The veteran cast handles the confused paint-by-numbers script more seriously than they need to, The snake scene is pretty scary.” Mike Mayo, Videohound’s Horror Show

“It’s a hair-raising, tire-squealing pursuit with a large-scale conspiracy going down. But not even Starrett can salavage the lousy ending.” John Stanley, Creature Features

” … a routine chase thriller which completely fails to live up to the promise of a credit sequence which uses a nocturnal highway, a gaunt hanging tree and racing clouds to brilliantly ominous effect.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

Cast and characters:

  • Peter Fonda as Roger Marsh
  • Warren Oates as Frank Stewart
  • Loretta Swit as Alice
  • Lara Parker as Kelly
  • R.G. Armstrong as Sheriff Taylor
  • Clay Tanner as Delbert
  • Carol Blodgett as Ethel Henderson
  • Ricci Ware as Ricci Ware
  • Paul A. Partain as Cal Mathers
  • James N. Harrell as Gun shop owner
  • Karen Miller as Kay
  • Arkey Blue as Arkey Blue
  • Jack Starrett as Gas station attendant
  • Wes Bishop as Deputy Dave
  • Paul Maslansky (uncredited) as Road worker in a cowboy hat
  • Dan Hewitt Owens (uncredited) as Jay


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