Race with the Devil (1975)

PG | 88 mins | Horror | 9 July 1975

Director:

Jack Starrett

Writers:

Lee Frost, Wes Bishop

Producer:

Wes Bishop

Cinematographer:

Robert Jessup

Editor:

John F. Link
Full page view
HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Kevin Flanagan, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, with Lucy Fischer as academic advisor.

According to a 19 Dec 1974 HR news item, the working title for the film was So Mote It Be . This is a reference to the threatening note attached to the broken window of the R.V. by the cultists after “Roger” and “Frank” witness the satanic ritual. The HR news item also announces the beginning of principal photography in San Antonio, TX, in Jan 1975. A 21 Apr 1975 Box news item notes that the film had finished shooting in central Texas at the time of its publication. It also reports that the production employed over one hundred Texas actors and crew, such as director of photography Robert Jessup and uncredited assistant cameramen Lynn Lockwood and Jim Etheridge. According to an 8 Aug 1975 report in LAT , sixteen cars, two trucks and eight motorcycles were destroyed in stunts for the film.
       Various contemporary reviews, including those in HR on 5 Jun 1975 and LAT on 27 Aug 1975, commended the fast pace of the story, the dimensionality of the characters and the convincing nature of the Satanists’ threat. Reviews on 11 Jun 1975 in Var and 10 Jul 1975 in NYT , however, found the film clichéd. Other reviews, such as Time on 18 Aug 1975, noted that the film represented the second pairing ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Kevin Flanagan, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, with Lucy Fischer as academic advisor.

According to a 19 Dec 1974 HR news item, the working title for the film was So Mote It Be . This is a reference to the threatening note attached to the broken window of the R.V. by the cultists after “Roger” and “Frank” witness the satanic ritual. The HR news item also announces the beginning of principal photography in San Antonio, TX, in Jan 1975. A 21 Apr 1975 Box news item notes that the film had finished shooting in central Texas at the time of its publication. It also reports that the production employed over one hundred Texas actors and crew, such as director of photography Robert Jessup and uncredited assistant cameramen Lynn Lockwood and Jim Etheridge. According to an 8 Aug 1975 report in LAT , sixteen cars, two trucks and eight motorcycles were destroyed in stunts for the film.
       Various contemporary reviews, including those in HR on 5 Jun 1975 and LAT on 27 Aug 1975, commended the fast pace of the story, the dimensionality of the characters and the convincing nature of the Satanists’ threat. Reviews on 11 Jun 1975 in Var and 10 Jul 1975 in NYT , however, found the film clichéd. Other reviews, such as Time on 18 Aug 1975, noted that the film represented the second pairing of Peter Fonda and Warren Oates, who first starred together in The Hired Hand (1971, see entry). The two actors were matched in a third film, 92 in the Shade (1975, see entry).

       A 5 Apr 2005 HR article reports that producer Chris Moore was set to make his directorial debut on a remake of Race with the Devil . According to the article, the film was to be produced by both Moore and Regency Enterprises. Writers Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan were updating the script with the intention of starting production in Fall 2005.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Apr 1975.
---
Films and Filming
Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 1975
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 2005
p. 1, 69.
Los Angeles Times
8 Aug 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Aug 1975
p. 12.
New York Times
10 Jul 1975
p. 19.
Time
18 Aug 1975.
---
Variety
11 Jun 1975
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Saber-Maslansky Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Photog equip
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main title des
Main title des
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 July 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 July 1975
Los Angeles opening: 27 August 1975
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
2 July 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45097
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Motorcycle shop owner and retired racer, Frank Stewart, meets his friend, Roger Marsh, at a motorbike racetrack after Roger completes a test circuit with disappointing results. Their wives, Alice Stewart and Kelly Marsh, step out of Frank’s new R.V. at the track and Alice encourages the crew to hit the road for their much anticipated ski vacation. After heading out of San Antonio and finding a peaceful, isolated location off the highway to set up camp, Roger and Frank race their motorbikes while Kelly and Alice take the Marsh’s dog, Ginger, for a walk. When the dog exhibits nervous behavior, Kelly surveys the landscape with suspicion. The couples share a lively dinner, but Ginger continues to be anxious. Later, as Roger and Frank sit outside drinking and reminiscing, they see a congregation of chanting, robed figures beside a bonfire in the distance. Upon further investigation with binoculars, Roger and Frank conclude that they are watching an orgy. The revelry becomes violent, however, and the two men witness an occult ritual where a masked leader sacrifices a naked young woman by stabbing her through the heart. When Alice calls to Roger and Frank from the R.V., she unknowingly reveals them to the cultists, who chase after the men. After making their way back to the R.V., Roger and Frank tell their wives they witnessed a murder. As they attempt to drive away, the wheels become stuck in a river. Roger and Frank are able to push the R.V. free, but two men from the cult gain on them and smash the back window with bats as Roger fights them off. ... +


Motorcycle shop owner and retired racer, Frank Stewart, meets his friend, Roger Marsh, at a motorbike racetrack after Roger completes a test circuit with disappointing results. Their wives, Alice Stewart and Kelly Marsh, step out of Frank’s new R.V. at the track and Alice encourages the crew to hit the road for their much anticipated ski vacation. After heading out of San Antonio and finding a peaceful, isolated location off the highway to set up camp, Roger and Frank race their motorbikes while Kelly and Alice take the Marsh’s dog, Ginger, for a walk. When the dog exhibits nervous behavior, Kelly surveys the landscape with suspicion. The couples share a lively dinner, but Ginger continues to be anxious. Later, as Roger and Frank sit outside drinking and reminiscing, they see a congregation of chanting, robed figures beside a bonfire in the distance. Upon further investigation with binoculars, Roger and Frank conclude that they are watching an orgy. The revelry becomes violent, however, and the two men witness an occult ritual where a masked leader sacrifices a naked young woman by stabbing her through the heart. When Alice calls to Roger and Frank from the R.V., she unknowingly reveals them to the cultists, who chase after the men. After making their way back to the R.V., Roger and Frank tell their wives they witnessed a murder. As they attempt to drive away, the wheels become stuck in a river. Roger and Frank are able to push the R.V. free, but two men from the cult gain on them and smash the back window with bats as Roger fights them off. The vacationers stop at a police station in a small town and report their encounter to Sheriff Taylor, who insists that Roger and Frank return with him to the scene of the ritual. On the way, Taylor explains that drug-addicted hippies have destroyed the serenity of the area, and that he recently caught them skinning cats and smearing blood on their naked bodies, claiming to have seen the devil. When the police sweep the scene, they find evidence of a bonfire and bloodstains, but no discernible footprints. Although Frank discovers a sacrificed dog nailed to a tree, Taylor blames the incident on vagrants and suggests that the blood at the campsite belonged to the dog, not a young woman as Roger and Frank claim. Back in town, Kelly and Alice find a threatening note, written in English and Rune symbols, attached to the back window of the R.V. warning that any evil caused by the two couples will be returned nine fold. As Kelly and Alice leave the R.V. to find a library so they can decipher its symbols, a man watches them from a red pickup truck. After looking through texts on witchcraft, occult rituals, and the supernatural, Kelly and Alice discover that the books are non-circulating reference materials and steal them. Taylor tells the men to go on their way and leave the case to him, then directs them to a mechanic on the outskirts of town to have the back window repaired. The red pickup pulls into the station as the mechanic works on the window, overhearing the conversation in the motor home. Roger points out that the deputy knew exactly where the site of the ritual was without asking. As Kelly and Alice review full moon ceremonies from their books, Alice shows Frank the note and explains that the rune within it is a spell with satanic powers. Roger then announces that he secretly took a blood sample from the scene of the ritual. He suggests that they find a police department in a big city and have the evidence analyzed to confirm if it came from a human or a dog. Back out on the road toward Amarillo, the couples reach an R.V. campground and Kelly and Alice go to the pool while Roger and Frank relax with martinis. While swimming, Kelly and Alice receive menacing stares. Sensing that something is still amiss, Kelly returns to the R.V. and pleas with Roger to abandon the trip and go home. When Frank insists to Alice that they must continue, Jack and Ethel Henderson step aboard the R.V. and welcome their new neighbors with a pitcher of martini mix. After admiring the vehicle, Jack is adamant that the two couples accompany them to dinner. At a nearby roadhouse, Roger and Frank relate their harrowing encounters to the Hendersons and tell them that they are on their way to Amarillo. When a fight suddenly breaks out among other bar patrons, the Hendersons watch with excitement but their guests return to the campground. Upon approaching the R.V., they find Ginger strung up on the door to the vehicle. As Kelly sobs over her dead dog, neighbors gather to watch, but refuse to respond to Roger and Frank’s angry inquiries for a witness. After leaving the park, they discover two enormous rattlesnakes inside the R.V. and Frank crashes into a tree. Frank manages to skewer one of the snakes with a ski pole, while Roger grabs the other and smashes it against the wall. Hysterical with fear, Kelly insists that the men check the R.V. for other dangers, but after determining the vehicle safe, they are unable to leave because the engine is damaged from the collision. The next morning, when Roger buries Ginger and Frank fixes the engine, the two men find that their bikes have been vandalized. At a local store, Frank buys a shotgun and Roger discovers that the phone lines are down. Back on the road, they stop at a gas station, but Roger’s attempt at contacting the highway patrol again fails when the payphone is disconnected. As they head toward the main highway, the truck in front of them stops short, forcing them to crash. They soon realize that three vehicles are making a coordinated effort to box them in. Each of the trucks, including the red pickup, are run off the road with the assistance of Frank’s shotgun. Further along, the R.V. encounters a school bus in flames, but closer inspection reveals that the children are safely playing outside of it. Realizing the scene is a trap, Frank plows through the roadblock, but several men, including the mechanic who replaced their window, leap onto the R.V. Roger fends them off with the shotgun, and climbs atop the vehicle to defend against the other cars in pursuit. Reaching another roadblock, the R.V. is directed down an alternate road. Eventually, they pull off the road to rest for the night because of their damaged headlights. Roger encourages everyone to drink and relax, saying that the horror has ended, when a bonfire ignites outside. A mass of robed cultists, including the Hendersons, Sheriff Taylor and other individuals that the two couples encountered, surround the R.V. while Roger, Frank, Kelly and Alice are paralyzed with terror inside. As the chanting intensifies, Frank’s R.V. is encircled in flames. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.