Great Movie Moments #3: The End of Race With The Devil (1975)

August 29, 2010 by Simon Kinnear in Features with 0 Comments

My regular look at the moments (scenes, characters, shots, whatever) that define why I love watching movies.

This week, to coincide with Bank Holiday Horror, my loosely themed weekend of scare stories, I’ve picked the end of Jack Starrett’s (Oc)cult road movie Race With The Devil.

Endings can make or break a good horror movie.  Who can forget Carrie’s split-screen wig-out, Ringu‘s Sadako redefining 3D telly, or meeting Norman Bates’ mother in the cellar?  Conversely, a promising start can be fucked up once we know what’s going on – see my piece on Jeepers Creepers for proof of that.

In Race With The Devil, the ending transforms an average romp into something memorable and unforgettable.  It’s the story of two couples in a camper van (Peter Fonda and Lara Parker; Warren Oates and Loretta Swit) who stumple upon a Satanic killing, and less a full-bloodied horror than a novel twist on the 1970s road movie where the heroes drive an RV.

As the casting of Fonda and Oates implies, there’s a bit of Easy Rider, a touch of Peckinpah, but mostly nothing more ambitious than to put on a decent show for the drive-in crowd.  Which it does admirably, swinging from slow-burn menace to chase movie, until finally, they think they’ve got away… and park up for a well-deserved breather.  End of story, right?

The spoilerphobic would be well advised to seek out a copy of the film.  The rest of you can enjoy this, one of the great horror sucker-punch endings and an image that burns itself into your memory.

See also:

Great Movie Moments #1: Match Cut in The Fall (2006)
Great Movie Moments #2: Opening Scene of New York, New York (1977)
Great Movie Moments #4: L.A. Confidential’s Rolo Tomassi

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