Friday, August 5, 2011

Evan Chimes In: Death Race 2000

Hello, Interweb! I'm Evan, and I love movies. However, I lack the ability to remember a damn thing about 99.9% of all the movies I have ever seen. I haven't seen many old movies at all. I scare easily and don't really enjoy many flicks in the horror genre. I'm assuming that if you are reading this blog then you are a fan of the sorts of movies that Chris reviews here. I haven't seen anything that has been reviewed. Truth is, I'm too scared. Seeing as how I am ignorant when it comes to these sorts of movies, my function here will, hopefully, be to give all the cinephiles a glimpse into what a newcomer to these genres is thinking.

Enough about me. The first movie I will be watching is 'Death Race 2000'. Starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. I actually think I may have borrowed this movie from Chris about a year ago. I'm fairly confident that I watched it, but I can't remember anything about it. Nothing. I'm told it is about a future (presumably the year 2000, so actually more than a decade in the past) where the national sport is a gumball rally style nationwide race where points are awarded for killing pedestrians. That's all I really need to hear. I'm reminded of the kick-ass old computer game Carmageddon. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this movie had some sort of influence on the people ultimately responsible for such a great computer game that consumed quite a bit of my childhood. I owe it to myself, and them, to watch the movie. I have been assured that it is not scary, so I'm game.

'Death Race 2000' is, indeed, about a gumball style trans-continental race in which drivers earn points by "scoring" a pedestrian. The type of pedestrian determines how many points are earned. Children, teenagers, old people, etc... are all worth different amounts of points. The American people seem to be enthralled by the race and show up in droves to the starts of each leg of the race.

The racers taking part in the race are Nero the Hero (played by Martin Kove), a Roman gladiator style combatant with his navigator Cleopatra (Leslie McRay) by his side. Then there is Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins) a Nazi bomber style combatant with her navigator Herman 'the German' Boch (Fred Grandy). The last of the non-star racers is Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov) a wild-west style combatant and her navigator Pete. Then we get to the all-stars and favorites for this year's race: 'Machine Gun' Joe Viterbo and Frankenstein. Machine Gun Joe is played by Sylvester Stallone and is supposed to resemble a 1930's style gangster. Joe's navigator is Myra (Louisa Moritz). Lastly, there is Frankenstein (David Carradine). Frankenstein is presented as an all-time great in the race having won many times in the past. The name apparently comes from the fact that he has been rebuilt as a semi-bionic racer. We'll get to Frankenstein's navigator in a second.

We learn about Thomasina Paine(Harriet Medin) who leads a rebel group that wants to put an end to the race. Their plot is called 'Operation Anti-Race', which is quite possibly the laziest name for a guerrilla operation. Their plan is to kidnap Frankenstein and spare his life in exchange for the permanent abolition of the race. Frankenstein's navigator is Annie Smith (Simone Griffeth) who is actually Thomasina Paine's great grand-daughter, and begins the race working as a spy. Frankenstein easily sniffs her out, bangs her, and makes her fall in love with him.

All in all the movie was pretty damn entertaining. It's not really my "cup of tea" so to speak, but I could find the humor in places. There were some things that kind of irked me, like the fact that apparently broken legs are instantly fatal. My favorite part was easily when Frankenstein takes off his glove, showing a grenade seemingly grafted to his palm, to which Annie says "Is that a hand grenade?". I love puns.

Everyone but Machine Gun Joe is killed off, in various ways, by the rebels. Machine Gun Joe is finished off by Frankenstein's hand grenade. Frankenstein marries Annie and become Mr. and Mrs. President Frankenstein. The first order of business for President Frankenstein is to abolish the race that made him famous. Way to bite the hand that feeds you.

'Death Race 2000' is currently available on both DVD and Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

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