This blog is devoted to all those pieces of 20th century culture too often pooh-pooh'ed by the so called 'high brow' crowd. The stuff that conjoures words like 'vibrant', 'garish' and 'lurid'. Cheap paperbacks, b-movies, exploitation, fantasy, horror and hokey sci-fi - all have a place on this blog where the trash of yesterday is recognised as the classics of today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie Review: Race with the Devil (1975)

A fine example of the 1970s obsession with the occult and the Satanic here, only this movie crosses the old 'evil cult out to getcha' plot with the car chase genre. Peter Fonda and Warren Oates play a couple of chums who take their wives (one of them being Loretta Swift - 'Hot Lips Houlihan' from M.A.S.H.) on vacation in an RV. Things go pear shaped when the two fellas witness a satanic ritual where a young, naked female is sacrificed by a bunch of be-robed cultists. Spotted lurking in the bushes, our two all-American heroes make for the RV and put pedal to metal in an attempt to escape.

What follows is a fairly usual tale of out-of-towners up to their necks in the Texan outback where seemingly everybody is in league with the cult (including the Sheriff) and is out to get them although they mask their evil intentions behind that brand of polite local friendliness seen in stuff like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The real selling point of this movie is the climactic car chase where various locals pit their trucks against the RV causing more than a little destruction along the way.

It's pure Grindhouse trash of course, but great fun all the same. The Satanic cult is extremely generic with as much thought put into it as one might expect from a low budget movie made in the 70s. People seemed terrified that this kind of stuff was going on all over the US at that time but I've never actually heard of any evidence of real sacrificial cults. It was just one of those paranoid knee-jerk reactions we've seen before in the witch hunts of the seventeenth century and the mass-panic over communism in the 50s.


Will Errickson said...

This was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I watched it again last year; still lots of fun! Can't go wrong with Fonda and Oates during that era.

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