Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Race with the Devil (1975)

In the second of three co-starring collaborations, Peter Fonda and Warren Oates are the prey in the jubilantly scuzzy rollercoaster Race with the Devil which was paid homage in Drive Angry and Red State. The film capitalizes on the Satanic panic of Anton LaVey and his heathenish parishioners that was prevalent back in the 1970’s.

Perhaps, due to their affinity on and off the silver screen, Fonda and Oates are plausibly gregarious with one another. Anyone with a PETA sensibility will begin to shudder when Ginger, an obsequious canine is chipper and prancing around the mobile home. Ginger’s likelihood of survival in a storyline around orisons and sacrifices to Lucifer is slim and nugatory.

Since Easy Rider was his breakout hit as a parvenu, the film is chock-full of motorcycle competitions and car chases but it isn’t lockstep with lobotomized action. It is beautifully antediluvian to see the two wives casually saunter to the library for research sources on witchcraft. In the tantamount equivalent of illegally downloading PDF files, they abscond with the books out of the depository. How illicit! What tome scofflaws!

Jack Starrett presents the film as the nerve-jangling epitome of every city slicker’s rustic nightmare en route to Aspen, Colorado. The conspiratorial locals are envious of their bourgeois freedom, their bohemian wanderlust and above all, their fully furnished RV camper home (accoutered with spacious sleeping quarters, a wet bar and the biggest expenditure: a microwave).

Onward, it’s Vanishing Point (with a lumbering mobile home in the crosshairs) meets Black Sabbath with crisply quicksilver set pieces such as when they are neutralized in the mud while the tongue-wagging diabolists in pursuit. The wrangling of two unleashed rattlesnakes inside the cabinets is truly skin-crawling especially from Fonda’s prostrate point-of-view.

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