Death Race 2000 movie review
Death Race 2000 (1975) stars David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, women who occasionally do not have their tops on and other actors nobody cares about. The movie revolves around an oppressive United States government in a dystopian future where the most popular form of entertainment is the annual Transcontinental Road Race, a crazy drive from New York to New Los Angeles where the contestants must not only finish first but also score points by running people over along the way. Besides the race, there’s a subplot (which collides nicely with the primary plot toward the end of the film) involving a rebel group that wants to over through the crazy government and move back to democracy and obviously, the best way to accomplish this is by disrupting the race… I don’t want to give it all away, but that’s the jist. Oh, just one more thing – everything that’s wrong with the country and anything that goes wrong with the race has been and will continue to be blamed on the French. Because… fuck the French, I guess.
Oh right, the scoring system! The scoring system is set based on sex and age. I thought race would be thrown in there somewhere, but nope. Here is how it breaks down:
Men – unknown point value, but less than 10
Women – 10 pts
Teenagers – 40 pts
Children 12 and under – 70 pts
Anyone Over 75 – 100 pts
So yeah, run over a grandma with her baby grandson in her arms and you’re sitting pretty.
The best part of the movie (aside from people getting run over and the accompanying hilarious effects, topless women and a young Sylvester Stallone yelling all the time) is the names of the characters:
Each car and racer has it’s own theme, although some are less apparent than others. According to Wikipedia, “Each contestant represents the fantasy of a reckless driver,” but as far as I’m concerned, that’s bullshit.
No, not literally Frankenstein, but instead, some guy (David Carradine) that has had lots of surgeries to repair wounds he’s suffered during previous Transcontinental Road Races. The movie goes to great lengths to explain that he’s an all American hero, although what’s all American about a guy in a black leather bondage outfit (complete with cape) driving a green sports car (a Shala Vette) that is mocked up to look like some weird green lizard monster, I fail to understand. And just to make this more fun, this guy is the star of the movie! His navigator is Annie Smith, who could have been an interesting character in the hands of a better actor (and writer), but isn’t. I love the part where Annie and Frankenstein dance – have fun observing the continuity errors in Frankenstein’s costume in this scene. There aren’t many, but they are funny.
Nero the Hero
Nero isn’t worth your time – trust me. His car is a Fiat 850 Spider mocked up to look like a lion because as I’m sure you’ll recall from school, Nero used to throw people to the lions. I can’t guess why his navigator’s name is Cleopatra, but it is.
Matilda the Hun
She’s a Nazi – she even says something about the master race, but she refers to women… I don’t know what history books she read, but whatever. Her car is a VW Karmann-Ghia that has something on top of it that looks like half an engine and half a bomb, but it never gets used. I really thought she was going to shoot that at something, but it never happens. I love that her navigator’s name is Herman the German – for no reason at all, I find that very funny.
Not sure what kind of car she’s driving (it might be a modified VW – apparently this is the case for many of the cars in the movie), and I have to admit, I didn’t try to hard to find out. Her car is mocked up to look like a bull and for me, I find the scene where her mechanic/navigator is killed to be one of the most memorable kills in the movie.
“Machine Gun” Joe Viterbo
His car might be a might be a modified VW – not sure, don’t care, doesn’t matter. Anyway, Sylvester Stallone is hilarious as the gangster – I’d say he’s using his Rocky III voice in this flick. His car has some knives and machine guns on the front, but he never uses them, much to my disappointment. I can’t remember what his navigator’s name is, but the film doesn’t really focus on that particular aspect of her character in favor of her other assets.
She’s not a driver, but instead a descendant of Thomas Paine and leader of the resistance. That is a great name.
This movie is available via Netflix instant, so have a few drinks and check it out!
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