And now, in my position as U.S. Ambassador of Shitty Movies (tm [personal profile] zillahseye, I present to you Race With the Devil: what happens when a Peter Fonda movie has to get a kidney transplant, and the donor is...I don't know, something with Satanists.

So if you've never seen The Last Exorcism, the last ten minutes sort of take a pretty firm position on the events of the rest of the film; you love it, or you hate it. I personally love it, because it doesn't - it doesn't ruin the rest of the movie for me in the way it did for other people.

I'm pretty sure that's because when I was about 9 years old, I saw Race With the Devil.

RWTD is amazing. Two couples (including Peter Fonda and Loretta Swit) taking an RV trip stop for the night; when the men go out to drink beer and sit around the fire and discuss Manly Things - what, it was the 1970s - they end up accidentally seeing Satanists performing human sacrifice. Naturally, they go to the cops the next day, but when the cops investigate, they find no evidence of a crime. The couples continue on their way, unnerved but determined to have salvage the rest of their trip - and that's when shit really starts to go down.

Here is the thing: unless you are 9 years old and run across this thing on a Saturday afternoon, you are going to know like five minutes in if it's worth watching. It takes a while to get going; it's...certainly set in the 70s, which means there's going to be a certain veneer over the whole thing that you either like or hate. It features Peter Fonda as a badass traveling in an RV. There are a couple of chase scenes, also with the RV. It is slightly goofy. There's an extended bit at an RV park where we're supposed to believe it's entirely populated by Satanists. The human sacrifice features a guy with a horned goast mask. If you made this movie today, everyone would think you shot it entirely on mescaline or something.

And yet--there's a real sense of creep over the entire thing, and not in the "no, Mr. Tumnus, I will not get in your van" kind of way. I mock the fact that Satan has a really good cellphone network in this movie--mostly because, you know, no cellphones yet--but they do seem to be everywhere, like there's a good portion of the surrounding area/cities/state that's devoted to Lucifer. We just never hear about it. That is really fucking creepy when you are 9. It's also surprisingly fucking creepy when you're, you know, older than 9.

It's also sort of stupidly funny, though not in the way it intended. Seriously, it's worth it for the extended RV chase, where Peter Fonda has to fight dudes who are trying to run his camper off the road like it's a goddamn Indiana Jones movie. It's like someone took a horror movie and tried to mix it with a road film, but the horror movie got a liiiiittle too diluted--and then BAM! the ending happens. It scared the shit out of me at 9; it's not as scary now, but it's still fucking creepy as hell, and gave me my--not love? but appreciation for the ending you've earned instead of the one you really want or think you're going to get.

So, yeah: Race With the Devil, maybe hard to find but it might be on Netflix, I don't know. (I found my copy at Circuit City like five years ago and snatched that shit up like I was saving a kitten from a well. Five bucks brand new! That is insane.) If you hate 70s movies--or Peter Fonda, or Loretta Swit, or anything I've mentioned up above--give it a pass; if not, give it a try. There are worse ways to kill an afternoon now that autumn's coming.


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