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Death Race 2000 (DVD)
Member Name: bookguy
Death Race 2000 (DVD)
Advantages: Great jokes, insane but gripping plot.
Disadvantages: At one point, Stallone says: "I think you're one very large baked potato."
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!)
Summary: One of the best exploitationers.