Race With The Devil US Theatrical Release: June 1975 (20th Century Fox) US DVD Release: June 28, 2005 (Anchor Bay) Running Time: 1:28:23 (17 chapter stops) Rating: PG (Has a bit of cussin', some mild action violence, and some creepy satanic rites involving partially fuzzed-out nudity) Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.78:1 anamorphic) Audio: English DD2.0 Mono (Extra Features: DD2.0 Mono) Subtitles: None (Extra Features: None) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None) Menus: Light background animation Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert has a reproduction movie poster on one side and a chapter list on the other. MSRP: $14.98 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2/5 I've always wanted to see Peter Fonda beat a Satan-Worshipper with a squeegee. Well, not really, but pretending that I have makes me feel better about the wasted opportunity that is Race With The Devil. This 1975 drive-in special takes a creepy premise and a top-notch cast and, unfortunately, just doesn't do much with them. Our heroes, Frank (Warren Oates) and Roger (Peter Fonda), are introduced as motocross experts -- Frank a shop owner and Roger a racer. They and their wives, Alice (Loretta Swit) and Kelly (Lara Parker), climb aboard an enormous, state-of-the-art Vogue RV (equipped with color TV, stereo system, and -- holy cow! -- a microwave oven), which they plan to drive from San Antonio to Colorado for a ski vacation. Little do they know, they'd have been much better off with the armored, rocket-armed RV from Stripes! While parked off-road for the night, Frank and Roger observe what at first appears to be some kind of weird hippie orgy, but which soon devolves into a horrific occult ceremony involving human sacrifice. In a foreshadowing of most of the females' lines later in the script, Alice shouts at the boys to turn in for the night, and their presence is revealed to the cultists. The terrified vacationers barely manage to escape the angered freaks. By morning, the couples find a nearby town and return to the scene with the local cops. The cops seem only mildly interested, but to be fair, the out-of-towners' story is rather nutty and the witnesses were less than sober at the time of the event. So the gang eventually continues on their way, but not before receiving a threatening note from the cultists ¡V they are being watched! As they travel along, the group encounters a number of creepy characters and a series of disconnected payphones. Are the townspeople involved in a conspiracy? Just how widespread is this cult? Everything seems a little off, and Kelly Has A Very Bad Feeling About This, but Frank'll be damned if he lets a band of murderous lunatics get in the way of his long-awaited ski trip! On they go. And on. And on. The trouble is that, aside from a lot of strange locals giving the vacationers funny looks, not very much happens. The only real action that occurs between the initial encounter with the cultists and a climactic car chase that kicks in with about 15 minutes to go in the film is a battle with two rattlesnakes hidden in the RV that's a lot more funny than it is scary. It plays out a little something like this: Offscreen production assistant throws rubber snake #1 at Kelly, who screams. Snake falls to the floor. Roger falls to the floor. Close-up of real snake on the floor. Close-up of Roger on the floor. Close-up of Kelly screaming. Medium shot of Frank poking at snake #2 with a ski pole. Close-up of Alice screaming. Repeat the last 5 shots 17 times. And what about that cool motocross setup? When Frank and Roger strap their bikes to a rack on the back of the RV, it's clear that there'll be some neat motorcycle action later on, right? Right? Well, after a short dirt race prior to the encounter with the cultists, the bikes spend pretty much the rest of the film on the rack. Why introduce them at all? Then there is the matter of Alice and Kelly. Aside from one scene where they visit a library to try and learn something about human sacrifice, their lines consist mainly of bloodcurdling shrieks or (understandable) whining. Granted, this is a drive-in B-horror flick, but if they were going to spend the money to hire the popular stars of "M.A.S.H." and "Dark Shadows," why not give them something interesting to do? For the most part, only Warren Oates really has any good lines, and those are few and far between. He has his share of clunkers, too. Finally, a look at the ending. True, it is fairly shocking and certainly creepy, but it is set up with such an incredible "what the heck are they thinking" act that its power is somewhat diminished. On top of that, without giving away too much, the viewer is left with the question of why the film didn't end much sooner. It's really too bad that the talented cast and crew did not take the promising idea of Race With The Devil to a higher level. THE WAY I SEE IT: 3.5/5 The transfer isn't bad at all for a 30-year-old low-budget flick. The source print was either in very good shape to begin with or got the restoration treatment -- it shows almost no damage. Colors are rich and lifelike, and detail is good. There is some edge enhancement, but with a handful of glaring exceptions, it's not too bad. A bit of flicker pops up here and there. A few scenes do display some digital artifacting, but many do not. Black levels are OK, but leave some room for improvement. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 2.5/5 The mono soundtrack suffers from some distortion. There are a number of places where dialogue is tough to make out. Also, the dynamic range is not especially wide. Overall, the audio is only OK. THE SWAG: 3/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Hell On Wheels (17:51) A new interview with star Peter Fonda, in anamorphic widescreen. He's quite an entertaining character, and enthusiastic about discussing the film. He covers the same sorts of topics that would normally appear in a commentary. He talks about his relationship with Warren Oates and his other castmates, as well as his memories of and feelings about the production. Various film clips and behind-the-scenes photos are shown as backdrops for Fonda's comments. This featurette is worth checking out. Commentary With Executive Producer Paul Maslansky and actress Lara Parker, Moderated by DVD Producer Perry Martin A very solid track. It's mainly not scene-specific, but Maslansky and Parker have a lot to say about their experience making the film. They remember a lot of details, and there is almost no dead air. To top it off, Lara Parker suggests an interesting idea for an alternate ending. Radio Spots Three original radio ads are included, running 0:55, 0:30, and 0:30. Poster & Still Gallery 35 color and black & white images from posters and press kits for the film, including several different international versions. Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery 44 black & white production photos. Previews: Four trailers are included. The trailers for The Entity, Quicksilver Highway, and Ghost In The Machine play automatically when the disc is first inserted. They may be skipped. Race With The Devil (2:09) (DD2.0; 1.78 anamorphic) The Entity (1:23) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Quicksilver Highway (2:08) (DD2.0; 1.66:1 pillarboxed anamorphic) Ghost In The Machine (2:10) (DD2.0; 1.66:1 pillarboxed anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 2/5 The Way I See It: 3.5/5 The Way I Hear It: 2.5/5 The Swag: 3/5 Race With The Devil has its fans, but to be honest, it's a major missed opportunity. Considering the stars and the solid premise, it could have turned out a lot better. (Interestingly, it is currently being remade by Chris Moore of "Project Greenlight" fame, with a cast of relative unknowns. It remains to be seen what they do with a story that would essentially be rendered ridiculous by the presence of mobile phones!) As for the presentation, while the audio is a little disappointing, the picture quality is nice and the extra features are certainly worth a look. With its impulse-friendly price, genre fans may want to pick up a copy, but anyone not particularly interested in mid-'70s drive-in fare won't find much to their liking here.