Death Race 2000 (1975)

DEATH RACE 2000 (1975)
Article #1766 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-14-2006
Posting Date: 6-13-2006
Directed by Paul Bartel
Featuring David Carradine, Simone Griffith, Sylvester Stallone

In the future, the president hosts a cross-country road race where contestants get points for running down pedestrians.

I once read a review of a Ramones album that claimed that they would point out the very disturbing inspirations for the energy of their music while tapping into that energy at the same time. In some ways, this movie works on the same level. It was based on a rather vicious short story, and it occurred to Roger Corman that you could have something very effective if you placed a layer of political satire over the story. The resulting movie works on several levels; it takes a look at the public thirst for violence while gratifying it at the same time. Yes, the movie is more than a little disturbing, but it’s always quite hilarious; I’ve never forgotten the scene where the old folks home puts out an assortment of geriatrics (which offer high scores due to their age) to serve as targets for the driver named Frankenstein, but Frankenstein (who has his own agenda) has a surprise for them. Because it’s working on so many levels, it makes sense that we have the gratuitous nudity during the massage sequence; after all, exploitation was simply one of the levels of the movie. It inspired a video game that was even more controversial, owing to the fact that video games were primarily aimed at children at that point. Ultimately, the movie is quite fascinating, with its awareness of the nature of its own themes and its sense of humor being its biggest saving graces.

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