Death Race 2000 (1975)

“The big score: anyone, any sex, over 75 years old has been upped to 100 points!”

Synopsis:
In a dystopic future America, drivers compete in a cross-country race, earning points by killing as many pedestrians along the way as possible.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
This “ultraviolent comedy satire” benefits from effective direction by Paul Bartel (who makes the violence “too unreal to be sickening”), and a completely tongue-in-cheek approach to its outrageous storyline. With that said, your tolerance will still be severely tested when watching crowds of swastika-flag-waving Neo-Nazis cheering on their favorite driver, or listening to humans of all ages being glibly categorized by the number of points their deaths will solicit. Peary dislikes DJ Don Steele’s hammy performance as the race’s emcee, arguing that he “nearly ruins the whole thing”, but I disagree. Steele’s cheerful commentary (“Women are still worth 10 points more than men in all age brackets, but teenagers now rack up 40 points!”) simply adds to the surreal atmosphere of this utterly unique, utterly tasteless cult film.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • David Carradine as the masked champion, “Frankenstein”
    Carradine
  • Sylvester Stallone in an early, pre-Rocky film
    Sly Stallone
  • Some wild and crazy race cars
    Vehicle
  • A scathing commentary on the American public’s lust for violent sports
    Emcee

Must See?
Yes. While critical opinions differ wildly, I believe this cult film is an impressively bold and unique satire.

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One Response to “Death Race 2000 (1975)”

  1. Not must-see.

    Odd, erratic and one-note…so there’s little by way of build or surprises. No one among the cast seems capable of anything layered or subversive, to compensate for the mediocre script. (Its ‘killing for public sport’ premise brings to mind ‘The 10th Victim’ – an infinitely superior film.) At least DP Tak Fujimoto helps somewhat, mainly through his capture of the racing sequences. Frequent actor Bartel is best remembered (justifiably) for directing ‘Eating Raoul’ – which would follow later.

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