Death Race 2000
Given the upcoming release of the newly “reimagined” Death Race
movie, it seems only fitting that we take a look back and remember the film that inspired Paul Anderson's new version (see: presumable shitfest).
The premise of Death Race 2000
is pretty simple. Every year, drivers race across the country in this new sporting event. They gain points by mauling over pedestrians. However, different types of pedestrians are worth more (an elderly woman scores more than a teenager, etc.) The drivers may also attempt to kill each other, but essentially they win by either mauling the most civilians or getting to the finish first (whichever goal yields enough points to win). There's also a plot about the dystopian government being overthrown and the resistance and all that crap, but nobody watches Death Race 2000
for a lesson in politics, so that crap really isn't all that important (aside from driving forward what appears to be the loose fragments of a plot).
When I first watched the film, I assumed it was only going to include violent driving. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the filmmakers decided to sprinkle some nudity in as well (the best kind of nudity, gratuitous). So while I'd usually be angry to hear that the roadway massacre stops every once in a while, I am happy to report that it is replaced by topless women fighting. Read that previous sentence again if it hasn't set in. That's right. This movie alternates between violent car chases and bare-skinned brawls. That's really all you could ask for in a B movie. I suspect none of this will be in the remake because Anderson is a gutless twat.
The main character of the movie is the driver Frankenstein, played by David Carradine. Or as I know him, Bill from Kill Bill. Even though he seems to basically sleep through the movie, his droll performance makes it better in a very ironic way. Also on screen we find a very young looking Sylvester Stallone playing the main rival, Machine Gun Joe. Aside from Rambo and whatever the guy's name is he was in Cliffhanger
, this is easily one of Stallone's top performances. From him shoveling food in his mouth, to opening fire into the crowd after they cheer for Frankenstein, everything we could ever want from Stallone is here. And we can understand what he's saying. Always a plus.
Another strong point the film has going for it is its production design. All the drivers have these little “gimmicks” to help us organize them in our heads. The drivers are obsessed with anything from a Roman Emperor, to a Outlaw Cowgirl, to even Nazis. And let me just say, the cars all look top notch. When I imagine go-carts covered in cheap plastic to reflect a superficial obsession, the designs of Death Race 2000
hit right on the mark.
The only real downfall to the film as a B movie is the final stretch. Compared to the energy and voracity that the rest of the film has, the ending is just a bit too slow, and you'll definitely feel it getting sluggish when you're within fifteen minutes of the end. But, this is just a minor complaint, and since the rest of the ride is so damn fun, I can let it pass.
So if you are in the mood for one of the most ridiculous movies ever made, I strongly recommend checking out Death Race 2000
. It delivers on every note a B movie is made for, and it's kind of fun to see well known actors in films which many I'm sure hope we'd all forget about.
By Tyler Lovemark