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Death Race 2000

USA 1975
produced by
Roger Corman for New World
directed by Paul Bartel
starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins, Martin Kove, Louisa Moritz, Don Steele, Joyce Jameson, Carle Bensen, Sandy Mccallum, Paul Laurence, Harriet Medin, Vince Trankina, Bill Morey, Fred Grandy, William Shephard, Leslie McRae, Wendy Bartel, Jack Favorite, Sandy Ignon, John Landis, Darla McDonnell, Roger Rook, Paul Bartel
screenplay by Robert Thom, Charles B.Griffith, based on a story by Ib Melchior, music by Paul Chihara

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In the (not too distant) future - the year 2000 to be exact - the USA has been turned into a totalitarian stateruled from abroad by the President (Sandy McCallum) and held together mainly by the new national sport, transcontinental racing, in which hit-and-run accidents are no longer treated as felonies but make the racers extra points.

Frankenstein (David Carradine) is the biggest of the transcontinental racers, which is why a rebel group led by Thomasina Paine (Harriet Medin) plans to kidnap him while killing all his rival racers (including Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins, Martin Kove) and to that end supply him with a navigator, Annie (Simone Griffeth), who is really one of them and who lures him into one trap after the other ... but all to no avail, for one Frankenstein is the perfect driver, secondly he has long looked through her disguise, and apart from that, during the race the two of them have actually become lovers. But what's even more important is that Frankenstein acutally wants to win the race because only this way he can get a chance to shake the hand of the president ... and blow him up in the process.

Thing is though, during the final duel with his fiercest rival Machine Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stllone), Frankenstein loses his handgrenade (actually he uses it to blow up his opponent's car) and now has to resort to plan B - which actually is just running the president over, very much like in the race ...

In the end, Frankenstein himself has become president and Annie his first lady, and the USA is to become a democracy once again ... and whoever opposes democracy, is just run over by the new president himself.

 

Quite simply put, Death Race 2000 is hilarious, a great blend of political satire, science fiction and action motives and mindless carcrashes and explosions that is as intelligent as it is funny and fast-moving. Ironically, the film looks like a parody of other car crash films like the Smokey and the Bandit and the Cannonball Run series, Grand Theft Auto and even Road Warrior - but was made before all of these films - and the genre should probalby have ended right then and there when it was still riding high. The one movie Death Race 2000 is reminiscent though that was made before it is The Cars that Ate Paris, which doesn't make Death Race 2000 any less exceptional. In a way, this should have been the car crash movie to end all car crash movies - but unfortunately, it wasn't.

Recommended.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD