Sunday, May 30, 2010

Death Race 2000 (1975, Paul Bartel)

Thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory, I received a copy of the new re-release of the Roger Corman Cult Classic, Death Race 2000 (hitting stores on DVD and Blu-Ray June 22nd).  It's been a few years since I've seen it and I was very anxious to watch it again.  Before I saw the film the first time, I had heard the name many times but didn't really know what it was about.  When I finally read the synopsis, I had to see it immediately.

Death Race 2000 is an over the top, futuristic, car racing film.  In the year 2000, the Annual Transcontinental Road Race is a cross country race run by the government.  The contestants earn points by killing innocent pedestrians along the way.  The favored contestant and previous champion is Frankenstein (David Carradine), a man whose body is as much metal as flesh.  Frankenstein is up against a ruthless group of racers, each more blood thirsty than the next.  Heading the pack is "Machine Gun" Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), a belligerent gangster who has no problem slapping around his female companion.  Also in the race are country gal Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins) and Nero the Hero (Martin Kove). 

Death Race 2000 is, simply put, a masterpiece.  Everything about the film is pretty much flawless.  The cast is top notch and each play their colorful characters perfectly.  The story is so silly and over the top but irresistible.  The film even throws in some political themes, but more importantly there are the gory deaths, T&A and explosions galore.  For those familiar with director Paul Bartel's filmography (other than the similarly themed Cannonball), he may seem like an odd choice to direct this film but it has much of the same off the wall, tongue and cheek humor that he is known for.  I really can't think of anything I didn't like about this film, which is rare.  I highly recommend pre-ordering the new Shout! Factory DVD or Blu-Ray , which includes some all new special features and a 12 page booklet.

RATING:  10/10

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