Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Race With the Devil

(1975) *****

I want this poster ever so badly.
Race With the Devil is a personal favorite of mine which I was elated to revisit for the first time in years. (Thank you JPX for mailing me a copy!) The uncomplicated plot follows best friends and business partners Roger and Frank, along with their wives Kelly and Alice en route to Aspen for a relaxing week of skiing. On the first night of their trek they park their luxurious 70's RV in a remote spot in an isolated town in rural Texas. While slugging beers by the river, Roger and Frank witness a bizarre Satanic ritual that concludes with a bloody human sacrifice. When the group of devil worshipers notice the presence of outsiders, Roger and co. are forced to run for their lives. After a narrow escape they notify the sheriff who, unsurprisingly, rewards their civic duty with the typical condescension and mockery expected in such films.

It was probably just hippies having harmless fun. Boys will be boys! Besides, you were drinking weren't you? Let's call it a night. Another job well done boys!
 While the sheriff takes the men on an unproductive trip to the crime scene, the women conduct their own investigation. After some creepy interactions with the locals and several menacing threats later, the group decides that the best course of action is to leave town immediately and never look back. At this point the movie transitions from a Satanic cult mystery into full blown action flick so perfectly and effortlessly that there's no time to ask questions. All you can do is sit back and cheer for the protagonists to make it out alive.

When it comes to this movie I can't help but gush. Warren Oates is a welcome addition to any cast and Peter Fonda was a perfect fit for the role of Roger, a role that requires little more than cool 70's looks and an intelligent, practical persona. He also dressed for the occasion. I dig the sunglasses, but more importantly that patterned button down shirt belongs in the Museum of Everything Awesome, if only such a thing existed.

Q: Exactly how cool is Peter Fonda? A: After tripping on acid with The Beatles his recollection of a near death experience inspired John Lennon to write the song "She Said She Said".

In the past that I have expressed a fondness for movies that involve robed Satanists chanting gibberish. I have watched at least a dozen such movies and nearly every one of them is terrible. Not this one! My rating may seem absurdly generous but I stand by it! Five stars mofos!


Crystal Math said...

Sweet review! Thanks for sharing it with me this weekend :-D

JPX said...

Picture it, it's 1988 and a youthful JPX is sitting in his dorm room on Friday night. While others are getting drunk and laid at frat parties JPX is desperately trying to find something to watch on his tiny black and white TV. While scrolling through snowy channel after snowy channel he stumbled upon Race With the Devil. Two hours later he considered it to be one of his favorite horror movies of all time (he still does). Great review and I'm so glad you still like it!

PS. I have an original copy of that poster, jealous?

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I forgot you had that and yes, I'm jealous, you bastard! But at least I have my Wicker Man poster to console me.

By the way JPX, you already told that antecdote in your review, which was great by the way.

JPX said...

Good lord, I have the memory of a fish.

Catfreeek said...

I love this movie and I haven't seen it in years. Where's my copy JPX?

Mr. AC said...

Sounds so good I was going to watch it tonight. But, alas, it wasn't available on Netflix, Amazon or Vudu. :(

DCD said...

Haha, JPX, that little plastic castle is a surprise every time.

This sounds totally badass! Plus Loretta Swift? Hot Lips? How can it lose?

Octopunk said...

Ha ha! I read JPX's old review right after Johnny's, so reading JPX's comment was like visiting an old person and patiently looking at the ceiling as the same tired anecdote is trotted out again.

On the plus side it makes me feel okay about reposting my comment:

Ah, Satan worship! I think that's the favorite suburban myth, that the Dark One's minions perform evil rites on the same public picnic tables where you eat baloney sandwiches out of ziploc bags. I remember when JPX had a brief fishing phase and we'd head to a dinky bridge popular with anglers. I was under the dock looking for worms and two teenage boys were under there sucking noisily on a joint (first time I'd ever seen anyone doing that). One of them was loudly declaring that he knew the spot where the local human sacrifices took place at the hands of Seekonk, MA's thriving devil-worshipping community.

Then he suddenly waved his hands in front of his face going "No! NO! Get away from me!" and fell backwards to lethally strike his head on a sharp rock. Looked like an accident, but me and the other kid knew better. Okay, not really.

AC said...

fun review, i don't think i've even heard of this before!

octopunk, was it part of the myth that jpx had a brief fishing phase?

Landshark said...

Man, I missed this review and hysterical comment thread the first time through. Trying to wrap my head around JPX's fishing phase too. I guess it's like Octo's brief Miami Vice fashion phase?