Death Race 2000 1975 movie

Death Race 2000 – The dystopian madness coming from the past

Let’s face it, we like car races because they are dangerous, but what if, for once, the real danger was to pedestrians instead of drivers, as in this 1975 movie, Death Race 2000?

Indeed, contenders in this sport score more points the more people they manage to run over, and they even get a bonus if they kill women, the elderly, and children.

Behind the birth of this monstrous entertainment is a Nazi government that took over the United States in this dystopian past, leading to a totalitarian dictatorship where power maintains control of the population through fear and spectacle of these violent deaths.

Participating in this coast-to-coast race are five race cars heavily equipped to kill, driven by the colorful drivers and their navigators, among whom are pseudo-gladiators, neo-Nazis, gangster bullies, and a sexy cowgirl.

Finally, there is he, the unbeatable grand champion and personal friend of the American president/dictator: Frankenstein, a pilot masked to hide the scars of his many accidents and numerous surgeries to replace the body parts he has lost.

However, not all of the population submissively accepts this cruel display: indeed, a group of ardent rebels is determined in every way to sabotage the race, commanded by the elderly and wise Abramina Lincoln, a resistance leader who claims to be a distant descendant of the famous former American president who abolished slavery.

Their plan is simple: to infiltrate young Annie as a navigator to cheat and kidnap Frankenstein, exploiting the celebrity of this violent hero to blackmail the president into recognizing their independence.

But the rebels have not taken into account how crafty and strong Frankenstein is, as well as the fact that even he may not be as loyal to the system as they can believe.

The Unstoppable Strength of True Independent Cinema

Death Race 2000 is one of the best examples among the 1975 independent movies, which quickly became a cult hit only to be just as quickly forgotten.

Having read the plot just above, I guess you think it is a violent action/horror dystopic story, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Indeed, we are talking about a parody of dictatorship and the propaganda machine that puts comedy first in every scene, including the numerous brutal street murders.

Behind this little cinematic miracle is another name that many in today’s younger audiences may not know, namely the legendary Roger Corman.

A producer of a breed of which there are sadly no more today, capable of creating fantastic movies with pennies and who brought so much talent to the fore with his experience that it is impossible to count them.

From his cinematic forge came directors such as James CameronMartin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola; and even fantastic actors such as Jack NicholsonCharles BronsonRobert De Niro or today’s undisputed leading man, David Carradine, future Bill of Quentin Tarantino‘s famous Kill Bill.

Death Race 2000 is a perfect exponent of the philosophy of Corman and his many disciples, a genre that the more refined critics might contemptuously call “B-Movie” but, in reality, is the hottest matter of that eternal flame that burns in every movie lover.

Directing, we have the well-trained Paul Bartel, in his second shot after a long cinema career as a screenwriter and actor, who immerses this story in an irreverent mockery of the world of mass media and sports.

Despite the violence, American culture emerges invigorated by this fast and bloody shock, and in the end, we will all still love the superb President Frankenstein.

So many young stars all at once!

The story of Death Race 2000 is basically divided into two parts: the competition used as propaganda by the government, along with the personal relationships between the drivers and navigators.

As mentioned, the critical character around whom the actions of the others revolve is the splendid Frankenstein, a monster surgically reconstructed (at least according to the official story) as in Mary Shelley‘s novel.

However, we soon discover that the myth is a lie and David Carradine is not as disfigured at all, but the mask is just an excuse to make this sporty character live forever, inherited from the various drivers who did not survive racing.

Along with him is the sexy Annie Smith, navigator and partner (not only in the car), played with funny intelligence by Simone Griffeth.

A girl who perfectly embodies the rebels’ energy and desire for change and their naiveté toward a system they do not fully understand and therefore cannot defeat, at least not without Frankenstein’s help.

Still young and far from successful, we also have the belligerent Sylvester Stallone, here playing the criminal and violent Joe “Machine Gun”, eternal second fiddle behind the champion who can’t wait to get him out of the race by any means.

Another villain we remember from the various Karate Kid and the recent Cobra Kai series is actor Martin Kove: here playing the bizarre Nero the Hero, a pilot who unfortunately will not get very far and dies almost immediately.

Finally, in a small cameo of a bloody few seconds is the grand John Landis, director of cult movies such as Animal House and The Blues Brothers and many other delicious flicks such as Innocent Blood; another of the many talents who grew up in Roger Corman‘s court and later became an absolute legend of cinema.

As you can see, we have a lot of fodder for being a small independent movie from 1975, still perhaps precisely because of being very much devoted to actionDeath Race 2000 could become your entry into a cinematic universe you did not know about and is full of surprises ready and waiting for you.

Death Race 2000 1975 movie
Amazon Prime Video
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