One of the funniest, sadly true statements about America ever created.
The fact that a sequel is in the works that will most likely miss the boat of the original completely.
Death Race 2000 is one of those films that you don’t think you’ll like, but you end up falling in love with in spite of yourself. It is bold, brash and made for about $100, but it ends up making a statement about television and America in a most interesting way. Set in the future (or at least it was when it was made), Death Race 2000 is simply the tale of a cross country race in which contestants try and get from the East to the West as quickly as possible. As this is a Roger Corman Production, the kicker to all this is that the racers must accrue points by hitting as many pedestrians as possible. What ensues is an action filled extravaganza that mixes laughs with heartfelt moments and plenty of carnage.
While at first glance, a movie of this nature probably sounds like it should never have been made. Yet, the seriousness with which it is taken underscores the deeper ideas at work. People are killed and the crowds cheer in glee. The circumstances of the world in the film are certainly social and political, and it is definitely a comment on America at that time, yet, somehow it remains incredibly relevant. Death Race 2000 is by no means a perfect film, it is just damn fun to watch!
Playing the Game and Audio Commentary
Playing the Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000 is a fun featurette featuring the likes of Roger Corman, Mary Woronov and Martin Kove among others. This segment looks at how Corman designed the cars for the film, and how the cars and the characters would be intrinsic to one another. Corman also talks about Stallone and how his wife saw him as a leading man but he really only thought of him as “the heavy”. It’s interesting because if they tried to make this movie today (which I hear they are), they’d most likely make it more violent which would completely negate the initial point that this movie so deftly made. In the Audio Commentary, Corman and Mary Woronov talk about the actors, creating futuristic scenes with no money, where the story of Death Race 2000 came from and how Corman tried to imitate Dr. Strangelove with this film.
All in all, while not overflowing with extras, the ones they have here are pretty solid and add a lot to this DVD.
Widescreen - 1.78:1 - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. This movie is both dated and low budget and these two qualities enhance this film in every aspect. I absolutely loved the look of this movie. While at times I was a but surprised to see scratches or “hairs” come across the screen, I really think that this movie holds up over time. It isn’t over the top in as far as how the cars are presented, and the violence, though comical, goes out of it’s way to stand out as not being glorified. While I know that this movie is a cult classic, I really feel that it has a lot to say to a larger, mainstream audience.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. I loved the synthesizer soundtrack that has been used for this movie. It really adds a futuristic sense to this film, even if that future seems no further away than the 1980s. A lot of movies and TV shows would employ this type of audio device, and there is something about it that never gets old to me. Even though the future of this film is currently here now (and things are both exactly and nothing like they are in this movie), I feel that the audio and dialogue that this film employs is still largely relevant.
The front cover features both Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine with shots of the cars in the movie below them. While I wish they would have employed the artwork that was used when this movie was initially released, this is a DVD, which means that they’ve got to make this film look hip to a new generation. The back features a cool anecdote by Roger Corman, some pictures from the movie, a short, succinct description of this film, a special features/technical specs listing and a cast list. Overall, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a DVD that I discovered. Stallone’s performance is hilarious!
Death Race 2000 is a movie that I have been hearing about since 1998. I read Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and he kept mentioning this movie. Roger Corman is a man who has given numerous directors their first shot, and this film, directed by Paul Bartel seemed to signify a director that would go on to do a lot more in the landscape of cinema. At the very least, Death Race 2000 is an action packed movie that speaks of someone who knows how to put together a solidly moving story. Sadly, this didn’t seem to jump-start Bartel’s directing career that much.
I am almost in awe over how much I enjoyed Death Race 2000. It was quick, laugh out loud funny and the kind of movie that you hope never ends.
Death Race 2000 was released April 27, 1975.