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Death Race 2000

Death Race 2000 (1975)

Director: Paul Bartel
Producer: Roger Corman
Cast: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth
Genre: Satirical Sci-Fi, Action

In the year 2000...the distant future, Americans have become overly obsessed with graphic violence as entertainment (go figure!). The dictator, Mr. President, keeps the people happy by giving them what they want...he gives them the Death Race. A cross country car race where contestants score points by running down and killing pedestrian.

The returning champion is Frankenstein (David Carradine) a veteran of many Death Races who has been so badly injured in past wrecks that he must wear a mask to hide his gruesome face. His navigator is the lovely Annie Smith (Simone Griffeth) who's as talented in bed as she is working on a car's engine. Annie has more on her mind than just winning however. There's also a home bred terrorist group killing the racers in attempt to stop the violence.

From the start of the movie until the end, my attention was held fast by the satirical wit and sheer spectacle of bizarre looking racing cars and topless women which makes such a strange film satisfying. What makes Death Race 2000 work is that the movie never takes itself seriously. Because of that, the outlandish scenes of running down and killing pedestrians not only works, but works but rocks. In one outlandish scene a woman racer spots a mother with her children having a picnic in the country. Excitably she says to the race driver, “If they scatter, go for the baby and the mother.” As the mother and kids scatter the baby is left behind we hear, "GO FOR THE BABY! THE BABY!

In another quirky scene the staff at a geriatric hospital wheels out the elderly patients, lining them up for an easy hit by the racers. It has to be seen to be believed.

David Carradine who often played quirky characters in his films, is perfectly cast as the mysterious masked man, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein is cynical, the thrill of running over and killing pedestrians is old hat to him. He knows he's just a character playing his part in the great Death Race, but he wants more that that. He's a man with a plan.

Simone Griffeth and many of the actresses are just there for eye candy and they appear topless and bottomless too in this R rated movie. But Simone turns in a darn good performances as the brassy upstart with a sneaky plan up her sleeve.

Stealing the movie is an over the top and hilarious Sylvester Stallone, as Machine Gun Joe, the heavy in the film and Frankenstein's arch rival...
“Machine Gun Joe! Loved by thousands, hated by millions!” His female navigator does a darn good Judi Holliday impersonation. She not only looks like Judy Holiday, she sounds like her too.

Produced by the king of B budget films, Roger Corman, who gave us such gems as Attack of the Giant Leeches, Galaxy of Terror and Candy Stripe Nurses. Death Race 2000 is one of those cult classics that never ceases to amaze just how fun a movie can be when made on a shoe string budget. I'm rating this for a fun-factor.