R.I.P. Peter Fonda

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Race with the Devil Warren Oates Loretta Swit Lara Parker Peter Fonda

Peter Fonda passed away at the age of 79 last Friday, 50 years after the release of the film that he will always be primarily remembered for, EASY RIDER. His family released a statement saying: 

It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away. Fonda, 79 years old, passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16th at 11:05am at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family… In one of the saddest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy. And, while we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life. In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom. From his Family.

EASY RIDER is the film that endures more than any other, but within Fonda's career it was one of 115 screen credits he earned in his 57 years of acting. He made a lot of other great films during that time, with some that stand out to me including THE WILD ANGELS, DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY, FUTUREWORLD, LOVE & A .45, ESCAPE FROM L.A., ULEE'S GOLD, THE LIMEY, and the Marvel Comics adaptation GHOST RIDER, in which he played the devilish Mephistopheles.

Fonda didn't do a lot of work in the horror genre, but he would show up in the occasional horror movie, like the 1994 vampire tale NADJA, the 1983 demon snake flick SPASMS, the 1968 anthology SPIRITS OF THE DEAD, and one of my all-time favorites, 1975's RACE WITH THE DEVIL (pictured above).

Directed by Jack Starrett from a screenplay by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop, RACE WITH THE DEVIL casts Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker as two couples who go on a very eventful road trip. The synopsis: 

For old friends Roger and Frank and their wives, it was supposed to be "the best damn vacation they ever had." But their RV road trip takes a deadly detour at a secluded campsite when they accidentally witness a Satanic orgy and brutal human sacrifice. Now horror hits the highway as the couples are chased by blood-crazed cultists through some of the most intense crash-and-burn mayhem of the decade and into one of the greatest twist endings in drive-in history!

The sacrifice happens rather early in the film, allowing most of the running time to be filled with paranoia and some cool action. I would highly recommend RACE WITH THE DEVIL to any horror fan interested in the career of Peter Fonda. It can be rented or purchased through Amazon Prime Video, or bought on disc in a double feature with DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY (which I also love).

It's sad to know we're not going to see more Fonda performances in the future, but he left behind some great work for us to continue to enjoy, and he will never be forgotten.

Our condolences go out to Peter Fonda's family, friends, and fans.

Source: Deadline

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.