|Race with the Devil (1975)|
|Writers:||Lee Frost and Wes Bishop|
|Starring:||Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Lara Parker and Loretta Swit|
|The Plot: Frank Stewart (Warren Oates) has a state of the art mobile home and he takes his good friend Roger Marsh (Peter Fonda) on a trip, showing off all of its $36,000 luxurious accessories. The two, along with their girlfriends in tow, soon begin a trek across the country in order to get to Aspen Colorado for a friendly vacation. Along the way the group decides to stop-off in a very small, and strangely quiet, town. As the two men have a late night drink in the midst of a clearing in the woods, they notice a fire burning off in the distance. As they whip out their binoculars in order to spy on their distant neighbors, they discover that there is a group of people in the distance wearing long black robes, with some even cavorting around in the nude. Ultimately, a young woman is brought forth and stripped naked before being stabbed in front of their apparent cult-leader. As Frank and Roger grab their stuff and get ready to run, the group notices them and they barely make it from this clearing alive. When the group ultimately makes it to the Sheriff’s station in the morning, they are treated as if they are crazy. Frank and Roger realize the gravity of the situation however, and they immediately leave the small town. Unfortunate for them, the cult is keeping an eye on their movements and soon a cross-country chase begins!|
Everything about Race with the Devil hearkens back, for me on a personal level, to what I feel was once pure about horror cinema. Even in the midst of the slasher-madness that the eighties brought upon us, the horror film at its very best was an attempt to scare the audience. It wasn’t just about the kills and it surely wasn’t about the glamorous young actress who has left her television drama and wants to shed her “youth” appeal and move into acting legitimacy. It was a true genre and not just a stepping stone. Even though it was as much about the money then, as it is now, there was still some life within the mainstream marketplace. Race with the Devil presents us with a cast that is far from the glamorous teenagers of today’s marketplace, but is chock full of talent. Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) kind of typifies old Hollywood, where rugged and manly actors could still land leading roles without having cosmetic surgery. Oates delivers a lively and youthful performance here, as he actually manages to fit alongside the “hip” Peter Fonda. The two have exceptional chemistry, no doubt due to their having starred alongside one another on two other occasions. The two actors were apparently good friends and when Fonda, who helped produce the film, was looking for a co-star he directly turned to Oates who filled the shoes admirably. Although the character is fairly typical for Oates, as an aging friend who can’t quite keep up with his younger counterpart but tries to anyway, his gruff voice and his odd mannerisms add an element of fun to nearly anything that he ever did.