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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

A still from Race with the Devil (1975)

Race with the Devil

1975 | United States | 88 min
  • Watched on Thu Jul 22, 2021 via Blu-ray (2013 | Shout Factory)
    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Peter Fonda and Warren Oates play two buddies setting out from San Antonio with their wives in an RV. They’re headed for a much-needed ski vacation in Aspen. They pull off the highway to a secluded riverbed to camp. The bucolic central Texas landscape features as the guys ride their dirt bikes while the wives chat. Fonda and Oates display the familiarity, banter, and semi-sibling rivalry that speaks silent volumes to their character’s long-standing friendship. Then later that night, they chance upon a gathering across the ravine they shouldn’t have seen.

    Now the film shifts to a paranoid thriller. Our leads bring in the law but the antagonists prove apt at covering their tracks. As the conspiracy grows, so does our unease. What seemed bucolic now seems sinister. Things culminate in some terrific car chases that see the couples fleeing for their lives.

    I loved how the film shifts from hangout movie to action-horror. I bought everything about these guys and their wives. Both Oates and Fonda pack ample charisma, and the early scenes take full advantage. I liked their characters and the agency the script affords them. They’re not supermen, but they can handle a shotgun. Sure, the script ratchets the stakes to ludicrous levels, and the ending leaves plot holes big enough to drive the ever-present RV through, but at a brisk eighty-eight minutes it’s over before you notice.

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