This is a film from a decade that produced so many dystopian "Not so distant futures" that it's hard to look on any of them with any credit. But this isn't a bad film.
It is the year 2000 (25 years into the future at time of release). The United States is in Turmoil. All Politics & Religion have collapsed to form a single polictical ruling party which functions as governement & religion. The people's urges are kept in check with violent entertainment which inlcudes the "Trans-Continental Road Race" an Annual Death Race that has been running for years. Five teams of two contestants race coast to coast. Each with a male & female team member & each with a driver & navigator. The point is not just to win the race, but to kill as many pedestrians as possible along the way.
The film has quite a bit of action as you can imagine any movie based around racing would. It can be quite violent, but this is not in approval & the point is to show a world where people are brainwashed & reality TV has got so extreme, that we are happy to watch Death happen live.
I would recommend watching it. It does look a little dated by modern standards. The "future" doesn't look much like the future apart from maybe at the begining. The acting is reasonable. Neither good nor bad. the plot is good. A few twists & turns. Nothing really surprising or shocking but enough to keep you interested in the climax.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room also
There are plenty of B-movies that try to self consciously be "so bad it's good", but there's one to rule them all that's actually cheesy, violent, but also surprisingly smart, and that film is Death Race 2000, which was remade last year by Paul W.S. Anderon simply as "Death Race". However, Roger Corman's B-movie classic is the definitive version to watch if you want visceral thrills with a potent, hilarious social commentary about mass media and our insatiable thirst for violence.
The story takes place in the US, where there is a financial crisis, and as a result only one major political party, which draws much influence from the church, resulting in a viciously fascist police state. To keep the citizens at bay, a series of violent races to the death are organised, which last for 3 days, where the participants are awarded points for how violently they can murder anyone they see, be it pedestrians or other racers. In the first two days, the goal is simply to survive, score points, and kill as many of your opponents as possible, but on the third day, it is all about speed, and crossing the finishing line first.
The film's protagonist is Frankenstein (the late David Carradine), something of an American status symbol (which ironically is characterised by the performance of extreme violence), and his main adversary is the brutal Machine Gun Joe (Sylvester Stallone, in an early role). If their warring wasn't enough, the racers must also deal with revolutionaries trying to dismantle the race and kill the racers. Thus, the film has a rather amusing social commentary that extends to a satire of the political spectrum as much as it lampoons social issues such as the role of the media. In both regards, however, it is a scarily prescient film, but is not often recognised for this because of its graphic violence and kitschy style.
Death Race 2000 epitomises B-movie silliness, yet is extremely hilarious, action-packed, and violent. It also features a surprisingly sharp (if entirely unsubtle) social commentary. A fabulous and sexy cult classic.
In the future violent sports have been replaced by the Death Race, a drive across the country with the emphasis on the death part. Drivers score points by killing civilians with differing amounts of points given for differing catagories of people. More points given for the old and infirm, also for the young.
This is a ride across America with it's tongue well and truly buried in it's cheek. David Carradine plays Frankenstein, the most infamous Death Racer, known as a horribly scarred but wily driver with a long track record for success. Theres some sex appeal with lady drivers and navigators, some nudity also, not unwelcome either! Also even a great comic role and early film appearance by Sly Stallone.
Every time I see this film I can never remember if I've seen it all until the end of the race. Then I recall that Carradine is in the car and the girl gets shot. It's nice to know this film was honoured by Frankenstein's car appearing in the game Carmageddon. Watch it and enjoy it.
As the new Jason Statham vehicle (ahem) is imminent, I thought it was timely to write a review of this, the original Death Race movie.
Firstly, the plot - In a future America, population is controlled by an oppressive regime that sanction a violent hit-and-run car race both as a distraction for the population and a method of culling the "useless" - the sick, the old, the disabled and the very young. The champion driver is Frankenstein, a scarred veteran of many races, but is he as loyal to the regime as he appears?
This is a low budget action picture, one of many churned out by Roger Corman's New World Pictures throughout the Seventies. This one is not directed by Corman, but by the late Paul Bartel, an actor and director whose career was interwoven with many of the exploitation directors of the day (he appears in Jim Wyrnoski's "Chopping Mall" (aka KILLBOTS) and Ron Howard's "Grand Theft Auto", for example.)
Death Race is in many ways the ultimate exploitation film. Firstly, it has the pedigree - as well as the director's history, there is Sly Stallone - fresh from his porn career and turning in a wonderful parody of a thick but violently macho 'Italian Stallion' - basically the role he was to play, without irony, for the rest of his career. We have the beautiful but deadly Mary Woronov - Bartel's partner, and ex Warhol factory girl, and best of all, David Carradine, the most sublime exploitation actor in the genre.
The film would be of interest to the cult aicionado for these reasons alone, but apart from all of this, the film is good. Really good.
It has a punchy pace, the jokes are very good (and the satire biting), the cars are cool, the driving exciting and some titillation available (an inevitability of 70's exploitation.) The film is crazy, but has an internal consistency which really draws you in.
I think that the new version will have to rev up pretty quickly to catch up with this one, but we shall see.
The DVD I saw was the Universal one at 80 minutes. A fiver from amazon. It had some artefacts on the screen and some pops in the soundtrack, but was completely uncut (there are several versions - make sure you see the uncut one, if you can!)
76 minutes of uninterrupted nonsense with sylvester stallone write in the thick of it. Stallone plays 'Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, an enigmatic racing driver with a thirst for victory. He enters the Annual Transcontinental Death Race, in which the competitors have to aquire the highest body count and fastest time to be declared the winner. However, this years race is about to be sabotaged by some jumped up revolutionaries trying to overthrow the President. A movie not for the faint hearted.
Death Race 2000, Paul Bartel's 1975 cheapo satire about a futuristic international sport--an anything-goes car race where drivers score points for hitting pedestrians--stars David Carradine as a hero behind the wheel and Sylvester Stallone as his nemesis. The film is clever and macabre enough as a modernist satire, but finally overplays its hand in grim, decadent humour. The sets are gloriously artificial, and former Andy Warhol-star Mary Woronov is in sexy, comic form. --Tom Keogh