Death Race 2000 is set in the near future where the ultimate sporting event is the deathrace where pedestrians are run down for points.
Death Race 2000 (1975) Review
‘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. – rogierr
Cast and crew:
Directed by Paul Bartel
Starring David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth, Mary Woronov