Directed By: Jack Starrett
Starring: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit
Tag line: "They Witnessed an unspeakable act! It may cost them their lives!"
Trivia: According to the director, real-life satanists were hired as extras
As a fan of 70's exploitation, Race With the Devil proved a real treat. Combining car chases and nerve-racking tension with witches spells and satanic rituals, Race With the Devil is an action-packed extravaganza that has a bit of the occult thrown in for good measure.
Roger (Peter Fonda) and Frank (Warren Oates) are business partners, and now that their motorcycle shop is finally turning a profit, the two decide it's time to take a vacation. So, Frank purchases a state-of-the-art RV, and with their wives, Alice (Loretta Swit) and Kelly (Lara Parker), they set off for what will hopefully be the vacation of their dreams. But those dreams quickly fade the night Roger and Frank inadvertently witness a Satanic ceremony, during which a young girl is murdered . Going straight to the law to report what they've seen, the two learn very quickly that all is not as it seems in this small Texas town, and even the Sheriff (R.G. Armstrong) may be hiding a secret or two.
The scene that sets the story in motion, where the two leads witness the murder, is an absolute doozy. For one, the ritual itself is pretty strange, with naked women dancing around a large fire while a man in a horned mask stabs a young girl to death. After seeing all this, Roger and Frank rush back to the RV and take off, just ahead of the pursuing satanists (who realized their secret ceremony wasn't as "secret" as they would have liked). After driving a few hundred yards, the two men start to relax, thinking they've gotten away. Then the RV gets stuck crossing the river. Roger and Frank are able to free it after a few short minutes, but by that time, a handful of cult members have caught up with them, and proceed to destroy the RV's back window. This is the first of many similarly suspenseful chases, all of which are just as tense as this one.
Along with the excitement, Race With the Devil stirs up a little bit of mystery, namely that every single person the lead characters meet along the way may or may not be satanists, out to do them harm. People look at the four of them strangely wherever they go, leaving them (and us) to question whether or not everyone's in on the “secret”. Like the leads, we're never really sure who to trust, meaning danger could be lurking at every single gas station or roadside restaurant they venture into.
Race With the Devil is a nail-biter, a film that doesn't allow you to put your guard down for a minute.