In Hollywood, the plot of
Death Race 2000 counts as "high concept."
That is, the plot can be fitted on a box of matches with room to spare: in
the future a car race is held in which the point isn't necessarily to be
first at the finishing line, but to kill as many pedestrians as possible
along the way. Society's most vulnerable members, such as toddlers and
geriatrics, bag you the most points.
The chances are that you know about the plot, but can't remember the title
of the movie. Anyway, it is titled Death Race 2000 and was made in 1975 by
B-movie mogul Roger Corman. It starred David Carradine (dressed
like the gimp in Pulp Fiction)
and a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone.
OK, so Death Race 2000 is a one-joke movie. However, it has a lot
more on offer, namely hilariously bad acting, outrageous ?Seventies
fashions, terrible special effects, poor sets and cheesy production
Yup, Death Race 2000 is bad enough for
Mystery Science Theater 3000. Except . . .
it is also a whole lot of fun and definitely counts as one of my favorite
bad movies of all time.
Recently there has been talk of remaking the movie with Paul (Soldier,
Resident Evil) Anderson as director and
starring Tom Cruise. This would have been missing the point since they
would probably have turned a remake into a straightforward action movie.
Despite its exploitationist leanings (girls with big boobs, lots of
gratuitous blood) Death Race 2000 is actually a black-humoured
It is intended to be funny damn it! The cheesy 1970s production values are
just an added bonus. That it runs at a very fast-paced 75 minutes also
doesn't hurt . . .
This is why I jumped at buying this DVD at a bargain basement price of
R80 (in South Africa DVDs usually retail for about more
than double that).
Yet, was it worth it?
DISC: This a Region-free disc distributed by Avenue One.
It says digitally remastered from the 35 mm print on the cover.
Don't believe this. This isn't a wide screen release at all, and at times
it seems as if it was sourced from a pan ?n? scan video tape instead!
Despite the sides of the picture being cut off, the image quality is
rather poor at times. OK, this is a movie that is almost 30 years old and
was made on a shoestring budget -
but still! If Warners can manage to make
the 1950s Them! look as good on DVD as they did, then they really have no
excuse . . .
More unforgiving than the mediocre image quality is the poor sound
quality. At times I really had a tough time following the dialogue. Or
maybe it was just Sly Stallone's trade mark mumbling
I don't know. But
the sound overall isn't very good and despite the claims at being English
Dolby Digital 2.0 largely mono in any case.
The so-called special features are filmographies and biographies for
Stallone and Carradine. Not really special at all. And neither is the
extended credits list (that's what the end credits are there for, you
Three poor quality trailers are included, one of them for Death Race
2000. The others are for And God Created Woman (which looks
incredibly dull) and Communion. The trailer
for Communion is of such poor quality that despite a bad movie you
would have your mind read if you would want to watch the DVD after viewing
WORTH IT? The Region 1 DVD is also in pan 'n'
scan and it is
doubtful whether it is any better. The only feature it apparently includes
that is not found on this All Region disc is an interview with producer
Roger Corman by movie critic Leonard Maltin.
Strangely enough, this DVD includes the production credits for this
interview, but not the interview itself! This led me to believe that this
DVD is just an edited version of the Region 1 disc and doesn't differ that
substantially from it.
RECOMMENDATION: Watchable, but not listenable. If you can pick this
one up in a bargain bin like I did, then I'd recommend it. Otherwise, even
a rental would suffice.