Death Race 2000

Directed By: Paul Bartel
: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffith, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins, Martin Kove
Year Of Production
Running Time
: 79:51
Region Coding
: 1,2,3,4,5,6
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan
Audio:  English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
16x9 Enhancement
: No

Extras: Main Menu Audio, Filmographies, Biographies, Listing - Cast & Crew, Photo Gallery, Trailers



In Hollywood, the plot of Death Race 2000 counts as "high concept."

That is, the plot can be fitted on a box of matches with room to spare: in the future a car race is held in which the point isn't necessarily to be first at the finishing line, but to kill as many pedestrians as possible along the way. Society's most vulnerable members, such as toddlers and geriatrics, bag you the most points.

The chances are that you know about the plot, but can't remember the title of the movie. Anyway, it is titled Death Race 2000 and was made in 1975 by B-movie mogul Roger Corman. It starred David Carradine (dressed like the gimp in Pulp Fiction) and a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone.

OK, so Death Race 2000 is a one-joke movie. However, it has a lot more on offer, namely hilariously bad acting, outrageous ?Seventies fashions, terrible special effects, poor sets and cheesy production designs.

Yup, Death Race 2000 is bad enough for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Except . . .

Except, it is also a whole lot of fun and definitely counts as one of my favorite bad movies of all time.

Recently there has been talk of remaking the movie with Paul (Soldier, Resident Evil) Anderson as director and starring Tom Cruise. This would have been missing the point since they would probably have turned a remake into a straightforward action movie. Despite its exploitationist leanings (girls with big boobs, lots of gratuitous blood) Death Race 2000 is actually a black-humoured satire.

It is intended to be funny damn it! The cheesy 1970s production values are just an added bonus. That it runs at a very fast-paced 75 minutes also doesn't hurt . . .

This is why I jumped at buying this DVD at a bargain basement price of R80 (in South Africa DVDs usually retail for about more than double that).

Yet, was it worth it?

THE DISC: This a Region-free disc distributed by Avenue One.

It says digitally remastered from the 35 mm print on the cover.

Don't believe this. This isn't a wide screen release at all, and at times it seems as if it was sourced from a pan ?n? scan video tape instead!

Despite the sides of the picture being cut off, the image quality is rather poor at times. OK, this is a movie that is almost 30 years old and was made on a shoestring budget - but still! If Warners can manage to make the 1950s Them! look as good on DVD as they did, then they really have no excuse . . .

More unforgiving than the mediocre image quality is the poor sound quality. At times I really had a tough time following the dialogue. Or maybe it was just Sly Stallone's trade mark mumbling - I don't know. But the sound overall isn't very good and despite the claims at being English Dolby Digital 2.0 largely mono in any case.

The so-called special features are filmographies and biographies for Stallone and Carradine. Not really special at all. And neither is the extended credits list (that's what the end credits are there for, you know).

Three poor quality trailers are included, one of them for Death Race 2000. The others are for And God Created Woman (which looks incredibly dull) and Communion. The trailer for Communion is of such poor quality that despite a bad movie you would have your mind read if you would want to watch the DVD after viewing this trailer.

WORTH IT? The Region 1 DVD is also in pan 'n' scan and it is doubtful whether it is any better. The only feature it apparently includes that is not found on this All Region disc is an interview with producer Roger Corman by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Strangely enough, this DVD includes the production credits for this interview, but not the interview itself! This led me to believe that this DVD is just an edited version of the Region 1 disc and doesn't differ that substantially from it.

RECOMMENDATION: Watchable, but not listenable. If you can pick this one up in a bargain bin like I did, then I'd recommend it. Otherwise, even a rental would suffice.



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