Death Race 2000 (1975)
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Critic Reviews for Death Race 2000
The story, about a road race in the not-too-distant future for which the drivers are given points for running down pedestrians, becomes an elaborate and telling fantasy about our peculiar popular entertainments. Fine work carved from minimal materials.
Script, from an Ib Melchior story, makes its satirical points economically, and director Paul Bartel keeps the film moving quickly.
Overall the movie isn't as synchromeshed as it might be; the rivalry between champions Carradine and Stallone isn't very interesting, and some of the gags aren't sick or funny enough. But it's a great audience film.
In the end, it reveals itself to have nothing to say beyond the superficial about government or rebellion. And in the absence of such a statement, it becomes what it seems to have mocked -- a spectacle glorifying the car is an instrument of violence.
Audience Reviews for Death Race 2000
Mr. President: The drivers are ready, the world is watching. Once more, I give you what you want. "A Cross Country Road Wreck!" Death Race 2000 is another Roger Corman produced film. It has a pretty good cult following and why, I don't really know. It's also another dystopian film that uses sporting events to control the masses and also to spread the love of violence. The dialogue is beyond bad, the acting(besides Carradine is awful), and the movie is just down right stupid. I can see why some people would have fun with it and I did for about 20 minutes, but as it ran on, the fun diminished for me more each second. Luckily the movie only comes in at an hour and nineteen minutes, which allows the film to have easy watchability. As with any Corman produced film you know what he's selling. He's going to rip-off other movies, he's going to show breasts, it's going to be bloody, and it's going to be bad. For some reason though, a lot of people actually think this is a good movie. In Corman standards, it's a lot better than most, but it's also less fun than most in my mind. I wouldn't go as far as to say I hated the movie completely. It had its moments and there were some funny parts. I still didn't like it though.
This is the pinnacle of Roger Corman's exploitative, bombastic serial films and of them all, this is for sure the most entertaining. Corman made his money capitalizing on making films similar to ones already made or in production, and this film is no different. It doesn't show, but this film found publicity by copying the concept for "Rollerball" and for some reason has gained a cult following unlike its inspiration. The film is set in a dystopian 2000, where racers go transcontinental on a killing spree and rack up points in an almost "Hunger Games" like scenario, except without the emotional tumult but all the reality show gravitas. Though there are some gratuitous uses of blood, gore, and nudity, there's intrinsic value to this film. It spawned its own following leading to a poorly made remake and several sequels. Though it's not a terrible film it is cheaply made, reflected in the principal photography mostly being of the road where much of the film takes place and the same warehouse being used as a set for various hotel rooms. Besides the sets being downright hokey, the acting comes is stilted time and again, as the supporting characters come off as shady and over the top. One of the drivers, in this dystopian setting, is a Nazi, in this world glorified to reflect the changing values of the society, but it does not come into play more than a goofy German accent and a swastika on her helmet. The navigators, who ride with the drivers to tell them the fastest routes, are usually there to enliven the script, but often just become extra bodies to murder along the road. The best part about this film is the lead drivers, who are portrayed by exploitation fixation David Carradine as the complex and murderous Frankenstein, and Sylvester Stallone still acting as an unknown in this film. Still, even with the ripening thanks to old age, this film does not have the amazing script or original concept to be memorable. It does have some twists and turns, especially with Frankenstein's character and his plot against the rest of the drivers, but it's so offhandedly mentioned and not grown enough over time, keeping it relegated to the Corman oeuvre.
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