1 out of 5 – Would Recommend: Death Race 2000

Main titles

Excuse me, Derth Race 2000.

Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where a movie need not be a well-made blockbuster to be a classic. To prove it, today we’re examining 1975’s Death Race 2000!

What’s The Plot?

In the dystopian future year 2000, America is ruled with an iron fist by a dictator worthy of North Korea’s Kim dynasty. The bread and circuses we plies the nation with are deadly long distance road races, where the aim is for the government sponsored racers to kill as many helpless pedestrians as possible. Two time champ Frankenstein is once more competing in the grand championship, the Trans-Continental Road Race, and must fend off rivals and rebels in order to win!

Matte Paintings may be low tech, but they've held up better than a lot of early CGI.

Matte Paintings may be low tech, but they’ve held up better than a lot of early CGI.

Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?

Produced by the prolific king of low budgets, Roger Corman. For a little low budget sci-fi picture, this movie has had a lot of impact – it’s been remade twice (once officially, which spawned two direct-to-video prequels, and once by The Asylum, which starred The Insane Clown Posse), it’s inspired a number of video games (with the Twisted Metal franchise being most well-known among them), and was even one of five movies Corman revisited during his brief attempt at comic book publishing (three months in 1995).

Five Reasons to See It

  1. The late, great David Carradine plays Frankenstein
    Pictured: An outfit Carradine may have already owned.

    Pictured: An outfit Carradine may have already owned.

    and turns in an appropriately chilly performance as the cold blooded driving machine.

  2. Sylvester Stallone – one year away from hitting it big with Rocky – plays “Machine-Gun” Joe Viterbo, Frankenstein’s hot headed mafia-themed rival. In a movie where the protagonist runs people over for points, he’s appropriately unlikable.
  3. The satirical media personas covering the race are, somewhat uncomfortably, just as relevant today as they were in 1975.
  4. This movie follows a weird trend in dystopian sci-fi of setting the impetus for the bad future only a few years after the movie is made. So when society failed to collapse in 1980, this movie became dated a lot sooner than it had to.

    Pictured: the face Sly makes when he watches Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot.

    Pictured: the face Sly makes when he watches Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot.

  5. “As the cars roar into Pennsylvania, the cradle of liberty, it seems apparent that our citizens are staying off the streets, which may make scoring particularly difficult, even with this year’s rule changes. To recap those revisions: women are still worth 10 points more than men in all age brackets, but teenagers now rack up 40 points, and toddlers under 12 now rate a big 70 points. The big score: anyone, any sex, over 75 years old has been upped to 100 points.”

Recommendation

This movie is cheesy. This movie is obviously low budget. This movie beats you over the head with its satire at time. This movie is a classic, its premise an obvious spiritual precursor to The Running Man and The Hunger Games. It is a great movie. Go watch it!

Pictured: A naked David Carradine being supported by a women in a gimp suit.

Pictured: A naked David Carradine being supported by a women in a gimp suit. From this movie.

NEXT WEEK: My days of mercy upon myself continue the “at least the soundtrack was good” sequel Blues Brothers 2000 (1998).

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past’s social media lackey. He’s all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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