Plot: Roger (Peter Fonda) and Frank (Warren Oates) have been pushing their business hard for years and have started to reap the rewards. While they haven’t taken time to relax in a long while, the two have planned a vacation in Aspen with their wives. The two couples hit in the road in a top of the line RV, complete with color television and of course, a microwave oven. The first leg of the trek goes well and they pull over in a remote stretch of land to spend the night. While checking out the area, Roger and Frank see a group of people in robes around a bonfire. At first they just seem kind of weird, chanting and getting naked, but then a girl is brought out and a man stabs her in ritualistic fashion. Of course, this startles Roger and Frank, who try to keep quiet but manage to alert the cultists to their presence. As the two couples start the RV and take off, the group of cultists is right behind them and not giving up. Even after getting stuck in a creek bed, Frank and Roger manage to escape, but not before serious damage is done to the RV. But have they seen the last of the cultists and what were they really doing in that ritual?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun “Satanic panic” picture, reminding us of the days when people believed devil worshipers lurked in every shadow. The story is solid and has ample tension that ratchets up as time passes, not to mention the thick paranoia that goes with that. The cast is terrific too, especially Warren Oates who delivers a no nonsense turn as Frank. Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker round out the main cast, all of whom are quite good here. Parker is able to emote genuine fear and that adds a lot to the film’s tension. Race with the Devil has good production values across the board, which really shine when it comes to the chases involved. You might not think an RV is ideal for movie car chases, but this picture delivers in that area. The chases are long and well executed, with very fun set pieces and crashes. Who doesn’t love a movie where Satanists chase people in a tow truck, right?
No naked ladies in Race with the Devil, as this was a PG rated picture. There’s not much blood either, but there is extensive violence and tense scenarios. In addition to the car crashes, the chases involve some gun battles and while the cars take more damage than people, one guy does get shotgunned off the moving RV. There’s also an interesting scene that involves rattlesnakes to add to the fear factor and sadly, an animal dies, but thankfully it is off screen and the aftermath is very fake looking. I love gore, but I hate violence against animals, even when it is super fake looking like it is here. I do like to see animals hurt people though, so perhaps I am just a unique brand of sociopath. There are some choice lines to be found, but overall the writing is rock solid and the cast is up to the task of skilled delivery of those lines. Race with the Devil is crazier than most, what with Satanists, rattlesnakes, rampant paranoia, a wild conclusion, and of course the ever lovable Warren Oates.
Overall Insanity: 5/10