Tuesday 18 September 2018 photo 7/7
Download Death Race 2000
In the near future the ultimate sporting event is the deathrace. Contestants get score points for running people down as they speed across the country. The sport has crazed fans who sacrifice themselves to the drivers. An overt agency is trying to bring an end to the immoral deathrace and has infiltrated one of their followers in to the race as a navigator. In the end of the race the lives of the competitors, the President and the deathrace itself are in peril.
A champion of a brutal cross-country car race of the future where pedestrians are run down for points has a change of heart while being hounded by rivals and a conspiracy seeking to stop the race.
'Mad Max' meets the 'Running Man' and they both drive over miss Daisy. 'Death Race 2000' is a disconcerting smithereen job, but also fun. It is unprobable to say the least: 'Frankenstein' as the embodiment of national virtue? Nice thought over a dose of mescaline maybe. With unbelievable music too. Everything seems 2 B possible: ethical correct splatter comedies? You've got it. The acting in this supposed SF (caricatures of the immoral society of the future) is absolutely horrible (apart from Carradine and Griffeth). Add some black humor and non-existing emotions and you have Death Race 2000: the obscure cult flick in which Sly gets slapped around some as driver Machine-Gun Joe Viterbo. And retrospectively one of his best roles, besides 'First Blood' and 'Rocky'.
Luckily there was room in the rating for some graphical splatter and nudity, which is why this has become a cult movie. And fat chance the uncut version will be banned where I live. It is more than questionable if the story is really about the fear of America becoming that chauvinistic and drenched in bloodlust. I get the impression that most of it is just a glorification of violence. But in a more thoroughly humorous way than e.g. Wild Bunch (1969) et al. Imagine the American president has a summer house in Peking, or driver Mathilda the Hun has a nazi-navigator Herman the German...
DR2k was appropriately filmed by the great cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (Badlands, Silence of the lambs, Sixth Sense, and last but not least Ferris Bueller's day off). Good for Paul Bartel that he made Death Race 2000 before George Miller made Mad Max (1978), because it would have been a completely obsolete cartoon otherwise: something like Evil Knievel vs Dick Dastardly. Nevertheless DR2k is quite enjoyable. This movie may be inspired by 'the Cars that ate Paris' (Weir, 1974) and seemed to have inspired 'Carmageddon' (VG) and Mad Max of course. Guys, it's been real. Jesus Chrysler, I'd almost rate this 6/10.
One day I was looking through alternative DVDs at a stand at the local shopping centre, when the title of a DVD - 'Death Race 2000' caught my eye. When I first saw Death Race 2000 I already knew it would be an el cheapo spoof type of movie so of course I bought it. An interesting side-note, the particular DVD I bought had a 'G' (meaning general - for all ages) rating. A bit strange I thought, considering the title. I suspected it might be a pirated copy, but since you can't get it anywhere else...
I already kind of expected what I saw (before I saw it) and can say that, for what I was looking for the movie did not disappoint. There is an overwhelmingly cartoony feel about it; the gratuitous violence is nonetheless quite cartoon-like. This film immediately reminded me (and no doubt inspired) of such early video games such as 'Death Racer' on the NES and the like. Indeed, it is a mindless romp with a flimsy plot whose only attraction is seeing the brutal killing of people for sport (the same attraction of Gladiatorial contests). Indeed, there's a black humour about it. Don't expect any deep social commentary.
Given the budget of the film and the time period it was made in, you can't really expect mind blowing CGI-style special effects of 'Independence Day' or modern movies. However, the racing sequences were extremely tacky and unprofessional. The cars moved like two dimensional objects just moving along the screen and the cars themselves looked toy like. The gaudy, desert-like landscape, however, provided an appropriate background to the story. Anyway, its safe to say that eye-popping visuals were NOT one of the films strong points.
Filming/direction and Acting: Well, what can you say? The direction, shooting etc were typical standard fare for B-grade 70s sci-fi flicks. The acting was nothing special, but not great. Stallone's performance is of course amateurish in comparison to his later works (I've never much considered him a 'serious' actor) but he does come through as a particularly egotistical, obnoxious character. The scene where he sprays machine gun bullets into the crowd is a classic.
Story: The storyline is predictable and feels very recycled and unoriginal: the 'death sport' idea has been done to death, although I always delight in the strange black appeal of such brutal pursuits. You basically watch the film for the various death-sequences. Memorable scenes include the scene when Machine gun joe chases and runs over a man fishing (the burnout/blood spurting scene), the bullfighting scene with the Cowgirl character and the final scene. Anyway, you probably know the story: it is the year 2000 that there is a great rally known as the 'Intercontinental road race' where contestants try to score as many points by running over people. You get the picture. I won't spoil the ending for you.
Sound, other.etc: You've got to love the tacky early electronic music which plays every time someone is about to be killed. Of course the sound effects are primitive at best, but what do you expect?
Overall, in one sentence (due to lack of space) a tacky, cheap fantasy with a delightfully sadistic edge. 5/10
A distinctively crass, hugely enjoyable sick satire from director Paul Bartel, working for uber-producer Roger Corman – allegedly, Bartel kept thinking up more and wilder jokes, while Corman insisted more and more people got run over.
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