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Race with the Devil

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Anchor Bay
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Jack Starret
Peter Fonda
Warren Oates
Loretta Swit
Lara Parker
Bottom Line: 

 I love me a good road/horror movie. There's nothing quite like the creepy vibe of ol' backwater U.S.A. to get the paranoia enzymes churning like superheated coffee molecules in a microwave oven. It's a simple recipe, really; mix a small group of city dwellers seeking a country escape with either a mysterious truck, a cannibalistic family of mutants, or, in Race with the Devil's case, a satanic cult, and the results are always fun, fun, fun.
Frank and Roger (Fonda and Oates) take their wives on an RV trip into the wilds of Colorado to enjoy some time away from the city. However, the two buddies stumble upon a group of cultists in the woods, and witness a brutal Satanic sacrifice. The cultists pursue the spies, but Frank and Roger escape, and venture into a nearby town where the wives dabble in a little investigation. Turns out this place has a pretty shady past involving all manner of witchcraft and the occult, which probably explains why no one wants to hear Frank and Roger's story. As the travelers leave town in search for a more sympathetic ear, they are pursued by an army of cultists determined to stop them.
Race with the Devil is a bit like The Wicker Man on wheels, and is an occasionally very creepy film that bookends a drawn out second act that slows it all down a bit too much. Still, once things get rolling (literally) they play out quite nicely, with a "twist" ending that still gives me the willies!
The DVD from Anchor Bay even manages to drum up some special features on this little obscurity, including a commentary track with producer Paul Maslansky, and star Lara Parker, as well as a featurette titled "Hell on Wheels" that stars Peter Fonda. There are also radio spots trailers, stills, and ephemera to round out a pretty nice collection of goodies.
Race with the Devil is a great afternoon watch, and has been a staple of late night cable for years, so its arrival on DVD is a welcome one indeed. The transfer is fantastic, the sound's spot on, and the extras are surprisingly bountiful. Sure, this isn't a genre classic, but Race still features enough thrills and chills to make it well worth adding to your collection.

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