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Monday, October 10, 2011

Race With The Devil

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  There are plenty of scary movies that could or should be remade, instead of such beloved classics as PSYCHO, HALLOWEEN, and FRIDAY THE 13TH.  A perfect example of a movie that if done right could be downright terrifying, is the schlocky but effective 1975 thriller RACE WITH THE DEVIL.  Full of car chases and devil worshippers, it stars Peter Fonda and Warren Oates as buddies out on a camping trip in an RV with the wives, (Lara Parker and Hot Lips herself, Loretta Swit).  After their first day of driving, they find a deserted spot in the Texas countryside to pull over for the night. One of the wives and her little dog both have a funny feeling about their surroundings.  Apparently, they were right, because as the men take a little walk, they just happen to witness a Satanic ritual in progress.  Of course, they get the hell out of dodge, and from there on out, it truly becomes a race with the devil as the satanic cult follows and terrorizes the foursome over endless miles of hot, dusty Texas highways.

     RACE WITH THE DEVIL is a surprisingly solid and effective little drive-in chiller.  It's hardly a classic, but there are still some overall moments of unease and tension, and for a grindhouse b-movie, it has a wonderfully creepy sense of paranoia and conspiracy running throughout.

     RACE WITH THE DEVIL is pure 70s gold.  The actors are hell-bent on giving it all they've got, and the action never stops once it gets going.  The direction is solid and tight, and it's an awesome hybrid of 70s road movie and supernatural shocker.  RWTD is an obvious influence on such titles as THE HILLS HAVE EYES, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, and both Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino have expressed their admiration for this movie.  As low budget films go, it's actually aged pretty well over the years.  It's a perfect late night movie for October.  I personally enjoyed every minute of RWTD, and I highly recommend it.  This is a forgotten gem full of foreboding atmosphere and a chilling climax.

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