The final film in this semester’s biweekly series is the 1975 science-fiction satire Death Race 2000, starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone, and Mary Woronov. The screening will take place this Tuesday, December 17th at 6:30 pm in room 101C.
Here’s a description of the film by Mark Deming, quoted from Rotten Tomatoes:
Cult hero Paul Bartel directed this low-budget satire in which America’s passion for cars, violence, and sporting events are finally brought together in one convenient package. In the not-so-distant future, the United States has become a totalitarian regime overseen by the charming but sinister Mr. President (Sandy McCallum), who, in order to satisfy the masses’ need for entertainment (and to quench their thirst for violence), has created a new national sport — the Death Race, a nationwide road rally in which the winner is not determined by who finishes first, but by who scores the most points along the way by running over hapless pedestrians. Aspiring champions Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), Nero the Hero (Martin Kove), and Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins) are all looking to take the top honors away from Frankenstein (David Carradine), a half-man/half-machine who has been built to be the best racer on Earth and can outrun and outkill anyone on the circuit. However, not everyone likes the Death Race, and revolutionary leader Thomasina Paine (Harriet Medin) wants to sabotage the event in the name of restoring democracy; her plan is to foil Frankenstein’s expected victory by smuggling her daughter Annie (Simone Griffeth) into Frankenstein’s race car as his navigator. Featuring David Carradine at the height of his Kung Fu fame (and Sylvester Stallone a year before Rocky), Death Race 2000 was a major drive-in hit in 1975; Bartel and Carradine teamed up for another road race movie, Cannonball, a year later, and a semi-sequel, Death Sport, appeared in 1978.
If you’re a fan of Roger Corman (who co-produced the film), low-budget 1970s sci-fi films, or dystopian satire, it’s worth checking out. You’ll also get to hear top-notch dialogue like this line, which might be the best thing that’s ever come out of Sylvester Stallone’s mouth:
For more on Death Race 2000, check out the following links:
Weird Old Sci-Fi: “Death Race 2000” by Kyle Anderson (Nerdist, July 24, 2013)
DEATH RACE 2000: You’re One Very Large Baked Potato by Mark Bousquet (Atomic Anxiety, September 22, 2010)
DEATH RACE 2000 by Andrew Borntreger (BadMovies.org, August 2, 2008)