‘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 written by Lee Frost (The Thing with Two Heads) and Wes Bishop. Produced by Wes Bishop and [uncredited] Lee Frost.
The movie stars starring Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker and R.G. Armstrong (The Beast Within; Evilspeak).
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…
” …Race with the Devil could easily have been rote schedule filler of the William Girdler / William Grefé 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
“Whenever the movie seems to be settling into Race mode (the nerve-wracking navigation of a flaming Winnebago through twisty Mountain byways), out leaps a fresh injection of Devil, like the cultists use of rattlesnakes. The overall storm brewed by Race with the Devil makes it an unsung driving metal classic, and a hell of a good time.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies
“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
“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 salvage 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 … Roger
Warren Oates … Frank
Loretta Swit … Alice
Lara Parker … Kelly
R.G. Armstrong … Sheriff Taylor
Clay Tanner … Delbert
Carol Blodgett … Ethel Henderson
Phil Hoover … Mechanic
Ricci Ware … Ricci Ware
Paul A. Partain … Cal Mathers
James N. Harrell … Gun Shop Owner
Karen Miller … Kay
Arkey Blue … Arkey Blue
Jack Starrett … Gas Station Attendant
Wes Bishop … Deputy Dave
R.C. Keene … Satanist
Joyce King … Librarian
Paul Maslansky … Road Worker in Cowboy Hat
Dan Hewitt Owens … Jay
Tommy Splittgerber … Shop Foreman
Bandera, Castroville, Leakey, San Antonio and Tarpley, Texas
January 1975 – March 1975
December 1974 – April 1975
Lee Frost was originally the director but was fired after a few days because Fox didn’t like the dailies they saw.