Friday, November 9, 2007

Death Race 2000 (1975)

In preparation for its upcoming remake, helmed by the Paul W.S. Anderson, I decided to finally get around to seeing Death Race 2000, the Roger Corman produced, Peter Bartel directed cult classic.

The film is set in the futuristic “United Provinces of America” where the most popular sport is the ultra-violent Death Race 2000, a cross-country car race where mowing over unsuspecting pedestrians is a quick way to rack up extra points. The five contestants include the fan favorite (and S&M-clad) Frankenstein (David Carradine), his #1 competition the macho Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), cowgirl Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), Nazi Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins) and conceited Nero the Hero (Martin Kove). All the racers also have a navigator riding alongside them, and Frankenstein’s new navigator, Annie Smith (Simone Griffeth), might be harboring a few secrets.

Meanwhile, the anti-race resistance will stop at nothing to see that the race is canceled…for good! They plan to overthrow Mr. President (Sandy McCallum) and cancel the extremely gratuitous and gory national sport, even if it means killing off the racers.

Will anyone be left ALIVE to cross the finish line in Death Race 2000?

I cannot believe I hadn’t seen this spectacularly entertaining B-movie until just recently! It just goes to show that even though you may think you’ve seen it all, something will always pop up to prove you wrong! Death Race 2000 was an absolute delight to watch. Sure it could be cheesy and lame in parts, but it was riotous nonetheless!

The film is a bombastic piece of trash cinema treasure, lewd and crude, large and in charge! While it is not as gory as I thought it would be, some of the special FX are particularly satisfying. Cars plow through pedestrians, smashing, smooshing, squishing and squashing any annoying body parts that get in the way. And, of course, who can forget the high-octane action of the actual car race? Yes, fiends, there are good times to be had watching this flick.

And of course you wouldn’t watch this for Oscar-worthy performances (you won’t find any here), but there are some very fun, recognizable faces that put on, ahem, memorable performances! Of course you’ve got Stallone here throwing his hissy man-fits, gunning down crowds and running over people with gusto as Machine Gun Joe, but the show truly belongs to David Carradine and his stoic, mysterious Frankenstein character. Of course, the woman drivers, Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane and Roberta Collins as Matilda the Hun, do a bang-up job and have their fair share of the fun as well.

The underlying message of rebellion against a big bad government was a little too Star Wars for me, but I think the simplistic and silly approach to the subject was what the film was going for in the first place, so I can’t really complain. The film was well-paced, and kept my attention throughout, except for maybe the love scenes, which I giggled through.

Fans of outrageous and over-the-top B-movies will definitely love this film…don’t wait for the remake, check this film out NOW!

Death Race 2000 is fast, furious and finishes first in my book.

Available on Amazon!

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