A little while ago (September 30th) Kindertrauma celebrated its 6th anniversary! I’m guessing we still have tons of ground to cover, as I haven’t even shared all of my own hoarded traumas yet! Case in point, 1975’s RACE WITH THE DEVIL! Oh man, how this one used to terrify me in the best possible way. I recently revisited this childhood favorite and although it doesn’t chill me to the bone quite the way it used to, it surely brings back memories of being thoroughly frightened and excited at the same time. Here are some of the elements that helped RACE WITH THE DEVIL make my kiddie heart race…
Our story finds two couples on vacation in an RV stumbling upon a Satanic sacrifice and being hunted down as unwanted witnesses by the participants. As their wives hang out within the comfort of the vehicle, drinking buddies Roger and Frank (PETER FONDA & WARREN OATES) share a pair of binoculars, jokingly hoping that the semi-nude ritual they are seeing will turn out to be an orgy. No such luck. When Frank’s spouse Alice (LORETTA SWIT) loudly calls curfew on the two peepers the Satanists are alerted and our vacationers must scramble to escape with their lives.
As a kid I could relate to the idea of getting into trouble for viewing what I was not supposed to. You see, when it first came on TV, I was not allowed to watch THREE’S COMPANY because it was too risqué! This meant that after LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY was over, I would routinely pretend to go to bed and then watch it from the second floor between the staircase bannister. How do you like that? I was allowed to watch human sacrifices in RACE WITH THE DEVIL but not three people living together out of wedlock in THREE’S COMPANY! I guess we were a typical American family; boobs were acceptable as long as they were stabbed and followed by a car chase.
I know its hard to believe but there was a time when I thought Satan worshipers were the most dangerously insane religious group! Flash forward a couple decades and it’s clear they’d have to try much harder to earn that ranking!
As a kid I found old people, with the obvious exception of Granny from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, creepy. It wasn’t because they were wrinkly, it was because I was constantly force-fed the idea that they were good-natured and wise when my actual encounters with them revealed them to be grumpy, scornful and generally irrational. If you are old and I have hurt your feelings, please console yourself by eating some gross candy that nobody else wants.
UNTRUSTWORTHY AUTHORITY FIGURES!
When you’re a kid you are told that if ever you should find yourself in trouble, you can always count on the police. One need only get a gander of the boar head hanging on this guy’s wall to realize that might not always be the case.
RATTLESNAKE IN THE CUPBOARD!
If only I could travel back in time and share with my younger self the true stats of how many times I would encounter rattlesnakes, tarantulas, sharks and the metric system throughout my life.
Truth be known, I’d rather see a packed school bus burst into flame and fall off a 500-foot bridge into icy waters than a dog suffering a splinter. Hanging a dog, even if you are a devout Satanist, is inexcusable! Making trauma matters all the more dire for mini-Unk is the fact that the pet dog slain in RACE WITH THE DEVIL is named Ginger; that was my beloved childhood pooch’s name!
Normally I’m one to recommend the casting of baggage-free unknowns in horror films but utilizing a recognizable presence has its perks too. All children of the seventies must be familiar with LORETTA SWIT as, if I recall correctly, her show M.A.S.H. was shown in reruns approximately eighty million times a day. SWIT played tough cookie Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan. Witnessing the usually uber-competent SWIT turn to terrorized jelly in the face of her Satanic attackers in RWTD was to kid–me an unsettling signifier of just how bad the situation was.
TRAGIC RV TRASHING!
While my brothers were fond of drawing dragsters, as a kid I would draw vans and RV’s so that I might fuss over their stylish interiors. If that makes me sound like a homemaker in training, let me add that I made sure to draw gun turrets on my dream vehicle’s roof to destroy all enemies. Seeing a supped up machine like the one in RACE (it has a microwave!) needlessly trashed and damaged was pure tragedy in my young eyes!
STOLEN LIBRARY BOOKS!
God bless every movie that features a “gathering information” scene in a library! They always make me happy! In RACE’s requisite research bit, the two wives (SWIT and LARA PARKER) drop by the local library to dig into some tomes about witches. They find two books that suite their needs but are told by a librarian (script supervisor JOYCE KING according to IMDb) that because the books are reference books, they can’t be checked out. Their lives on the line, the desperate ladies swipe the books! Unbelievable though it may be considering all the Satanic panic going on, kid-me actually had the nerve to feel some anxiety over this thievery! You’re not supposed to steal books from the library! That’s not allowed! I was placated slightly when SWIT and PARKER make a pledge that after they escaped with their lives they would send the books back by mail! I hope I’m not ruining the movie for you when I tell you that I have very little faith those books were ever returned.
I love Peter Fonda road movies, so I was extremely psyched to wake up to this on Kindertrauma.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t see this one until a few years ago. Though I do enjoy it and ended up owning it…mostly because it’s paired with Dirty Mary Crazy Larry…it’s the kind of movie I think I really needed to see back in its day and when I was younger like you Unk. I only was able to watch Three’s Company because my dad loved it and never missed it, however, neither of my parents watched movies, so I only had seen a good handful of films before I was 9.
I love the opening credits and the whole story, but I guess I wish it had been handled just a little better. Still, I watch it every October. One thing about RWTD that I did find effective on my 1st viewing was the ending. Maybe I underestimated the film due to its age and me being slightly underwhelmed, but when that chant suddenly breaks the silence, I got such a cold shiver, and honestly, that totally made the film for me.
Unk, I was actually wondering what made you choose the films you did to decorate Kindertrauma with?
Thank God eventually we were allowed to watch Three’s Company. I think it might have just been the first season that it was deemed too racy. Or maybe my parents were just pretending to think it was too adult for us and just wanted us to go to bed at 9 anyway. I think by the eighties, once it was in syndication, they showed it before noon around these parts!
I can see being a little underwhelmed with RWTD, it’s not too flashy and I think most movies that had to do with religious cults and the like worked better in the seventies. I know that THE LAST EXORCISM tried a similar thing in the end and lots of people didn’t buy it. I myself am just hard wired to respond to that seventies stuff! The music alone gets me! I went to see The Exorcist a little while back and couldn’t believe some folks were laughing in the theater. How do you laugh at The Exorcist!? Haha.
You’re right about that opening shot and closing shot both being still so effective. I’m not sure they’d close the movie the same way now. I love that.
As for the posters…. the long inserts on the side are just a bunch of favorites- though I was limited to the stuff that I found in that particular size. The blu rays and DVDs on the right are supposed to be changed on a monthly basis but they’ve been like that for a long time now. I’m either lazy or just afraid of screwing around with codes and messing everything up! Both.
I remember hearing about this movie from my childhood friend Trish back in ..ugh ’75! It never appeared in a local theater, so it was really frustrating. I was about 8 or 9, but was already a horror veteran; I didn’t scare easy.
I finally saw it on cable or video, can’t remember
exactly. I wish I saw it as a kid. I might have been disappointed that it wasn’t the actual DEVIL chasing them, but the sacrifice scene would be awesome.. and the (/// possible SPOILER/// ) end scene was pretty good!
Happy Anniversary to Kindertrauma!!
Hilariously, I too was told I wasn’t allowed to watch “Three’s Company.” Forbidden fruit is the sweetest. I was also terrified of old people–and had a nightmare about the old lady in a rocking chair in a 1980-ish Ore Ida french fry commercial. (I can’t find it on youtube, dang it!?) Yet–I’m perfectly comfortable with stolen library books. My mom worked at a library and our house when I was young was filled with “borrowed” materials that we had for years. If she saw that I posted this–my mom would gasp and deny that that ever happened. But don’t listen to her–she still doesn’t get the appeal of “Three’s Company.”
Thanks for reminding me about “Race with the Devil.”
I think I know what you’re saying about The Last Exorcism, which I actually enjoyed, but I do remember I was reminded of RWTD. I was fine with the ending, I had another problem with the movie that I can’t recall.
I’m actually fond of the occult/Satanists films of the 1970’s that were so popular at the time as well. Which helps me to enjoy RWTD a bit more than I probably should. I also agree that they definitely worked better back then. Forgive me if you’ve done this already, but maybe you could post a list about the best films of that genre from the seventies. I think I recall some pretty good made-for-TV-movies of that kind, but since you are a fan of them I’m sure you’d be able to recommend films some of us might not be aware of.
I’m kinda shocked you aren’t aware of the whole The Exorcist As Comedy phenomenon. I’m serious, this has been a problem for a while now. Ten years ago it was playing here. Well my friend and I being Exorcist snobs, talked to the manager before we paid and explained there was no way we were going to pay for tickets and sit in a theater full of people laughing & mocking THEE Exorcist. He said we’d be refunded anytime during the film…turned out everything went smoothly as there were 11 people in the audience including us. The show after ours was a whole different story.
Man, whenever I lingered around in the hallway to watch something that I was not supposed to after bedtime, I always regretted it. My parents watched some strange crap and I recall vividly being crouched down in the hallway watching some cheapo flick involving a green genie that absolutely terrified me. I had terrible nightmares for weeks but could not tell my parents why.
I was young at that time – only four – but things got worse when the UHF stations started into the late 60s and 70s sleazy horror. I’d get up to get a drink of water (the path taking me through the living room) and see just enough of some horror flick to be both confused by what I was seeing and terrified. Turns out that after identifying some of those flicks, my mind filled in details that were much scarier than what was actually depicted in the movie.
Happy 6th B-Day! Like Unk I have some real doozy traumafessions that I have been saving for a rainy day but have been intrigued by some of the recent ‘fessions from the 90s and would like to see more. It is good to know that even though the UHF stations are gone Kinders will be Trauma’d forever!
Aw, that brings back memories of my friend telling me about “Don’t Go in the House”. He made it sound so scary it took me decades to watch it! If they remade RWTD today I’m sure the Devil would appear after the credits!
Thanks! I’m so glad I’m not alone in the forbidden to watch Three’s Company club! Oh man, I wish that old lady Ore Ida commercial was on youtube! What a great traumafession that is!
I’m floored that anyone could watch The Exorcist as a joke! Blows my mind! That reminds me of this guy I met who was a huge fan of the HALLOWEEN movies and so I thought we had a lot in common. One day i asked him which one he thought was the worst and he said THE ORIGINAL! Our friendship was short lived.
It’s funny how you can see a scene out of context and it makes the movie that much scarier when you have no idea what is going on. I remember falling asleep in front of the TV and waking up to a scene of a man and a woman screaming trapped in a house and I thought it was so disturbing. Later, (thanks to a KT reader) i found out it was an episode of “Hammer House of Horror” and so I watched it and it was much less scary knowing what was going on!
I’m loving the 90’s traumafessions too! It’s so interesting and promising to see this new crop of traumafessions coming in!
Happy anniversary KT! This is one of my favorite places to visit on the web, and is always good for laughs and insight and making the world a better place… as evidenced further by this terrific post for an awesome underrated movie classic!
Btw, I’ve read that 1979’s shit-tastic “The Visitor” is going to be playing in select cities in November. Hope you guys get to go!
Thanks! Seeing THE VISTOR on the big screen would be the best way to celebrate our anniversary!