Wednesday, March 23, 2005


It seems that two Peter Fonda car-chase classics of the mid-70s will be arriving on DVD soon. Those who grooved to the wild stunts and fashionable fatalism of Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry back in the drive-in day have got a spiffy digital treat coming to a Best Buy near you in the coming months. But even more exciting for connoisseurs of excellent car crashes who like a little satanic horror mixed in with their high-octane thrills is the news that director Jack Starrett’s overlooked drive-in gem Race with the Devil is finally making its way to DVD. Race also stars Warren Oates, Loretta Swit (TV’s Hot Lips Houlihan) and Lara Parker (who fanned a few adolescent flames as the witch Angelique on the gothic soap Dark Shadows) as two couples on a motor home vacation who accidentally witness a human sacrifice and spend the rest of the movie high-tailing it through the backwoods country with the county’s multitude of fuel-injected Satan-worshippers in hot (and I mean hell hot) pursuit. Any movie with the word “devil” in the title that casts R.G. Armstrong as a local sheriff ought to give you enough of a clue that just about every friendly local these poor city slickers come across is gonna turn out to be one of Lucifer’s lapdogs, so don’t let yourself get too comfortable while you’re watching! As for me, I’m headed out right now to reserve my copies of both movies. The mid-70s were the halcyon days of the cinematic car chase, and these are perhaps two of the finest examples of the form. Now, if only we could get Walter Hill’s The Driver on DVD as well, that triple feature would be just about all that needed to be, or even could be said about the joys of lead-footed, high-octane pursuit.


Anonymous said...

Hoo, boy!! Unless I'm misremembering, I actually saw DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY and RACE WITH THE DEVIL on a double bill at the Cinema V in Milwaukie, Oregon., where all seats were sixty-nine cents! I remember also seeing the latter as a second feature for THE OMEN, though, and seeing DIRTY MARY... in a drive-in as well (I saw all three of these multiple times in theaters, nerd that I was), so I could be confused. But I remember being in a pleasurable knot of suspense during most of RACE WITH THE DEVIL, and until now had practically forgotten about it...hope it's half as fun as I remember it.


Anonymous said...

Bruce, what are you doing up so late? I agree, RACE WITH THE DEVIL is filled with tension, a B-grade ROSEMARY'S BABY done up as a car chase movie, although is it technically a car chase when the pursued are fleeing in a Winnebago?

I know I saw it as part of a double feature, and I may have seen it with my brother, as we were both fans of DARK SHADOWS and the lovely Ms. Parker.

The B movie industry and television certainly got a lot of mileage out of devil worshippers during the '70s, didn't they?


Thom McGregor said...

Would it be safe for me to assume that men... of a certain age found these kinds of movies wonderful in their youth?

Anonymous said...

To answer Thom's question... Yes.

Up until the time I got my first car, I would have given my right eye to be Steve McQueen. Once I realized how ridiculously dangerous driving could be, I changed my mind. Still, I don't like Johnny Depp even a tenth as much as I liked Steve McQueen.

So, yes, movies with fast cars held some fascination for me, and fast cars (or Winnebagos) and devil worshippers wasn't the worst combination I could imagine. Fast cars and June Allyson is a bad possible combination that comes to mind.

But I don't much like watching car races in person or on TV.