Two couples go on a ride through Texas and Colorado with their new motorcar only to stumble on the sacrifice of a young woman by a devilish cult in the outbacks. A frenetic race starts with the cult members chasing the couples across the countryside to exterminate them before they can reveal what they saw to more people. Who can the couple trust in the land where everyone seems to be in on the crime?
This film starring the recently passed Peter Fonda and Warren Oates as the husbands, with Lara Parker and Loretta Swit as the wives mixes thriller, horror, and car chases in one sweet B movie package. The tenacity of this movie has encouraged a new remake of it that is currently in production. If helpless women screaming at everything for two hours annoy you, do skip this film. If you can appreciate the genre and the era when this film was made, then you might enjoy the ride.
Race with the Devil is not too cheesy. It holds well even after 44 years. Considerable time was taken to provide the characters with enough characterization and backstories before letting the film focus solely on the simple plot – escape from the crazy townsfolks before they kill you. This film is also a buddy movie between Fonda and Oates who had a great working relationship prior and starred in two films together. The wives are more like Wilma and Betty. They are accessories to Fred and Barney, but with even less personalities to differentiate them from the stone age honeymooners.
A few scenes made me laugh like the one where the wives visit a public library to find books on witchcraft. It gave credence to the multiple black people’s memes and jokes about what white folks do in horror films instead of running away as far as possible from trouble. You will ask yourself this question throughout this movie. Why do they persist to engulf themselves in more obscure tracks of land instead of running away to the nearest large city?
The car chases are of course well done considering they involve mostly a Winnebago and pick up trucks. The background music can be overpowering as it cues in loudly to let you know that something dreadful is about to happen. There is no nuance in the score. Yet, the movie still works as a light horror film and I admit that I did not know how it would end.
I saw this film on the Blu-ray release. There is a commentary track by director Jack Starrett and only one feature which is a series of interviews with the late Fonda and the director. The disc is apart of a double feature with another Peter Fonda classic Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Both are strongly recommended for car chase lovers.