NNWIJ: Death Race 2000 (1975)

Director: Paul Bartel

Notable Cast: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Martin Kove, Mary Woronov, Simone Griffeth

Rating: R

Review:  Say Death Race around two different generations and you’re guaranteed two vastly different assumptions.  Our elders know the Roger Corman produced B-movie covered in innocent blood starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone as a Frankenstein and Machine Gun Joe at odds with one another.  To my generation, Death Race takes place on an island where prisoners are the only targets and a Jason Statham played Frankenstein works together with a Tyrese Gibson played Machine Gun Joe and drive off into the sunset.  Paul W.S. Anderson softened his remake interpretation story wise, but blew away the Corman Classic in terms of production value given new technology and actually having a budget.  But after watching the original chaos unfold, even with a micro budget, why oh why did Anderson abandon the story of a bloodthirsty nation tuning in for a cross-country race of destruction?  With updated effects and better acting, a true Death Race re-vamp could have been a Grindhouse dream!  Why?  In the Paul Bartel directed/Roger Corman produced shocker, the plot is simple.  Contestants enter a national race every year which promotes killing of the innocent based on a brutality rated point system, crowning a winner on speed and mayhem.  Frankenstein (Carradine) is a multi-race winner, but this time has more on his mind then simply winning the race, rebelling against oppression and terror enforced by a corrupt government regime.  But don’t confuse Death Race 2000 with a taut political thriller.  A midnight movie through and through, Corman’s production stereotypically sports laughable and silly violence, acting, and value.  Visible crew members lurk in the background, public traffic drives across the “track,” stunts are painfully faked…but c’mon, it’s too freaking fun a concept.  Death Race 2000 has a Saturday morning cartoon feel with goofy sound effects and exaggerated performances, and then we’re reminded it’s a “Corman Classic” with the addition of pointless nudity and gratuitous violence as cars roll over civilians like a tube of toothpaste.  Thanks Roger Corman!  For those stressing proper film execution, Death Race 2000 will be an immediate shut off once Sly starts talking, or David Carradine wins a fight against Sly, or how kills are just a blur of quick cuts and red liquid, or when people die just from a little bumper love tap….you get my gist.  But for the true Grindhouse fan’s, Death Race 2000 is an insta-classic in terms of hilarity and action.  C’mon, it’s produced by a man with over 400 production credits to his name including such show stoppers as Piranhaconda or Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold!  Don’t worry though, Death Race 2000 leans towards one of his best efforts, not his other SyFy worthy investments.  Grab some equally interested buddies, crack some beers, order some pizza, and if anyone asks, tell them you’re watching a part of film history.  Just don’t tell them what kind of history.

Netflix Rating: 4/5


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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