Death Race 2000 Reviews
Death Race 2000 is great 1970's cheese with a ripper of a Stalone role thrown in for good measure.
Graphic account of racers who compete in a huge race where to score points means running over pedestrians; old ladies 70 points, tykes 50. Nice huh? Terrible.
The premise is simple. Five drivers race across The United States vying to not only be the first to cross the line, but also to rack up the most points, points which are awarded for killing members of the public by running them over in increasingly gory ways.
Of course there is more to it than that, there is a sub plot to over throw the President of the World (being a film set in the future, the President of the United States is obviously automatically the President of the World :-/ ). To this end one of the resistance fighters has somehow infiltrated the race as one of the navigators in order to sabotage it. Worry not though, as our anti-hero Frankenstein (played by David Carradine) takes her to bed in the second act, and so she soon falls into place working with him rather than against him.
The gore is of course laughable by today's standards but that just adds to the fun. In fact the scariest thing is the big hairy minge of one of the female stars who sits up half way through a naked massage. I know it was filmed in 1974, but surely someone could have CGI'd it out for the DVD release?
There is also a an early appearance by Sylvester Stallone, which rather than being embarrassing, worryingly looks like he filmed it last year, so little has his acting style progressed in 39 years.
More often than not the footage of the cars is sped up and at times resembles the chase at the end of an episode of Benny Hill. Also at one point the resistance positions a cardboard cut out, of the front of a tunnel, next to a cliff and a car drives straight through it and plummets to a fiery explosions. When my wife pointed out this something Wile E Coyote would do to Roadrunner I nearly choked on my popcorn.
So yes it's shit, and yes it's laughable, and yes there was obviously very little budget to work with. And yes, it's a great watch. After all when David Carradine is delivering, with all seriousness, lines like "I lost my taste buds in the crash of 97" how can you not love it?
Join legendary "shoot it quick and cheap so you can get paid" producer, Roger Corman, as he takes you to the dystopian future year of 2000, where the dirty French are ruining the economy and fucking up life for Americans everywhere. Fuck all that though, because ratings are through the roof on America's hottest new TV program: Death Race!
Death Race is a race across America using customized futuristic cars like this and this which are so awesome that there was a rush of exotic car designer suicides the year this film came out. Driving the former car is veteran champion and crowd favorite: Frankenstein (David Carradine), who wears a mask to conceal his disgustingly disfigured face. Driving the latter car is his main competition, Machine Gun Joe (a pre-Rocky Sly Stallone), a mafioso out to win the race at all costs - and cause as much havoc as possible while doing it. This works out in his favor, because in the world of Death Race, it's not just about winning the race, but also killing eager spectators, innocent pedestrians, and good-for-nothing old folks trying to cross the road; each valued with their own points that count towards your final score; if you can survive that long.
The film is a mix of Speed Racer races mixed with the brutality of Twisted Metal. At the time of release, the movie was considered so absurd, that veteran critic Roger Ebert awarded it a stunning zero out of four stars. So how does Death Race 2000 hold up?
The movie was made for future audiences from the year 2000 who thirst for blood and depraved action, brought on by the dystopian struggle of the common man to forget the plight of day-to-day life. The action is well directed. The acting is funny, stupid, and over the top. The plot is absurd, yet tantalizingly intelligent. The corniness is just charming enough to meet the sweet spot without going into the realm of complete ridiculousness. In the end, Death Race 2000 does what few other low-budget movies could do, creating a microcosm of b-movie tropes that give it legendary placement in the world of cinema.
TL;DR - 8/10
If you haven't seen this movie, just go out and watch it already. The film is not only one of the best to come from the Roger Corman production line, but simply one of the finest B-Movies ever made. It's nothing high brow, so feel free to smoke a joint, or have a couple of beers, and enjoy the results of a bunch of people getting together, slapping together some props, a script, and some obscure locations, and crafting this visual banquet for your eye stomachs.