Saturday, March 4, 2017

Movie Review: "Death Race 2000" (1975)

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Movie"Death Race 2000"
Director: Paul Bartel
Year: 1975
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

In a dystopic year 2000, an annual three day cross-country death race is held where contestants race across the former United States and score points by running over pedestrians.

"Death Race 2000" is directed by Paul Bartel and is produced by famed exploitation film producer Roger Corman. The film takes place in a dystopic year 2000 during the annual death race, a televised competition where a group of racers, each with a unique gimmick and car, race across the former US earning points by running over as many pedestrians as possible along the way. The biggest star in this death race is Frankenstein, played by David Carradine, who has more wins than any other competitor. He is believed to be mostly cybernetic now, thanks to his many crashes. His main competition and biggest rival is believed to be Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, played by Sylvester Stallone, however, his co-pilot Annie Smith, played by Simone Griffeth, is a member of the resistance, fighting against the totalitarian government that runs the death race. They hope to use him, the biggest star in the game, Frankenstein, as a bargaining chip in their fight.

"Death Race 2000" is a low budget grindhouse style flick from 1975. Admittedly, the plot is pretty stupid and the film is loaded with tons of cheesy gimmicks. Somehow, despite its overwhelming camp, there is a really enjoyable quality to this movie. The characters are caricatures and with names like Frankenstein, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, Calamity Jane, Matilda the Hun, and Nero the Hero, so how could they not be exaggerated to the nth degree? Each player in this crazy game has a wildly exaggerated car to go along with their gimmick. Some of these gimmicks include sporting a few machine guns, having a giant knife, or donning a trusty ol' pair of bull horns to gore unsuspecting pedestrians. There is a very tongue-in-cheek nature to this cult b-movie exploitation. It is full of over the top instances of violence and has a bit of a satirical political undertone. It's not going to rewrite the book on smarts, but damn it, it's sure fun to watch.

Though badly and stiffly acted (and maybe that's the point), we are always drawn to and really enjoy "Death Race 2000" despite all its faults, its silliness, and its poorly written dialogue.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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