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STUDIO:
Shout! Factory
MSRP: $16.49
RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

- New Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) High-Definition Transfer From The Interpositive Film Element
- David On Death Race: Interview with David Carradine
- Audio Commentary With Roger Corman & Mary Woronov
- New Audio Commentary With Assistant Director Lewis Teague And Editor Tina Hirsh
- Playing The Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000
- Ready To Wear: Interview with costume designer Jane Ruhm
- Designing Dystopia A detailed look at the design of the films now-legendary race cars, costumes and futuristic landscapes with members of the production, design and costume crew
- Start Your Engines: Interview with author Ib Melchior
- Killer Score: An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the films eclectic score
- Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman About Death Race 2000
- Theatrical Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer With Commentary By John Landis
- TV And Radio spots
- 12-Page Booklet
- New World Trailers



The Pitch

It’s like Rollerball, only with way more horsepower.

The Humans

David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins, Martin Kove, Louisa Moritz, Don Steele, Joyce Jameson

The Nutshell

In a dystopian Y2K, where America has turned into an economically downtrodden police state, the masses are satisfied only with gladiatorial combat programs, including the Annual Transcontinental Road Race, where drivers race in souped-up cars and score extra points by mowing down innocent pedestrians.  Frankenstein (David Carradine) is a driver who races in a mask and is the government’s champion, who is reported to be part machine, having been continually rebuilt after many crashes.  He must navigate the treacherous race even as the other racers, especially “Machine Gun Joe” Viterbo, who perennially loses to Frankenstein, and a resistance movement plan to take him out to satisfy their own agendas.  But Frankenstein has his own plans, both for the race and the nation’s current state of affairs.



“Whatcha got planned after the movie’s over?”
“Just trying to keep busy until Kung Fu: The Movie in about 11 years.  After that, I got
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
in around 18 years.  Then there’s Kung Fu Killer about eight years after this movie takes place…no relation though.  Oh, and I got that episode of Eve where i play a Kung Fu Master…



The Lowdown

Death Race 2000 is one of Roger Corman’s quintessential films, made on his trademark shoestring, directed by noted Corman protege, actor / director Paul Bartel.  It’s fully deserving of its status as one of the all-time cult flicks.  Delightfully nihilistic, exploitative, flagrantly satirical, as black-humored as black humor gets, overwrought and as quirky as that odd kid in the back of science class who liked to eat his boogers and looked at you like he was plotting your dismemberment.  Plenty has been written about it over the last 35 years, and everything you may have read is probably true.  It’s both a product of its time and environment, yet still maintains relevant, if acidic, commentary on society of then and now. 



“Okay, take a right up here at this intersection.”
“……..I’m sorry, what?”



Star David Carradine effectively sheds any shred of Kwai Chang Caine as Frankenstein, the cynical and grizzled veteran of the road race.  Decked in head-to-toe leather, he looks like a Gimpy Batman with an eating disorder.  But Frankenstein has no illusions about his place in the screwed up world in which he finds himself, even though he has plans to try to change that world.  And whereas Carradine’s Frank is a cool, deadpan pragmatist (who’s nevertheless not above the occasional kinky interlude and Viterbo bashing), Sylvester Stallone’s Machine Gun Joe is a Vesuvius of raw aggression, frustration and overall unpleasantness.  The two bookend a cast of over the top caricatures.



“What are you lookin’ at?”
“Nothing, Oscar, geez…”



Even though Death Race takes sideswipes, both literal and figurative, at commentary on the sorry state of elements of American society, both as they are (and ironically how they’d become), it has no illusions about what kind of movie it’s trying to be: a cartoonish and violent B-movie – and proudly so.  There’s plenty of carnage and some quite good driving action and second unit work done in the movie.  As slick as modern movies have gotten, there’s still that special something about road movies of this era that never lose their appeal, and Death Race is no exception.  It deserves every backhanded and laudatory remark it has received over the years as a exploitative, B-movie Corman classic.



“Why are you still driving like a maniac?  The race is over.”
“‘Cause Zed hates it when I’m late…”



The Package


The film looks good in a new anamorphic 1.78 to 1
“hi-def transfer from the Interpositive Film Element (sounds good technically anyway).”  Sound is also fine.  The film has had multiple releases over the years, and many of the previous special features are repeated here, including the commentary by Roger Corman and actress Mary Woronov from the 2005 release.  There’s also a new commentary with assistant director Lewis Teague And editor Tina Hirsh.  Playing The Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000 was also carried over from the Disney release. 



Yeah, this was pretty much Sly’s expression every day during the Driven shoot…



The following are new featurettes covering the standard areas of production:

- Ready To Wear
: Interview with costume designer Jane Ruhm,
- Designing
Dystopia
: A detailed look at the design of the film’s race
cars, costumes and futuristic landscapes with members of the
production, design and costume crew.
- Start Your Engines: Interview with author Ib Melchior
- Killer Score: An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the films eclectic score

- David On Death Race: Interview with David Carradine
- Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman About Death Race 2000



“Well, that about wraps up Death Race 2001, otherwise known as Daytona…”



There’s also a somewhat unusual feature, the theatrical trailer with commentary By John Landis.  TV and radio spots, a
12-page booklet and some New World trailers and round out the features.  Plenty to keep race fans busy for hours here.


8.3 out of 10