Plot: What’s it about?
“In the year hit and run isn’t just a felony:it’s the national sport!” With a tag line like that, you know Death Race 2000 is gonna be one bad mother trucker. Each year, the best of the best, or at least the best of the survivors, unite to engage in the greatest sports event all of time, The Trans-Continental Road Race! (I wanted to have an echo on that, but it’s hard to do when typing) 5 racers each drive their own signature cars, specially designed for their style of driving and maiming. Calamity Jane, a nympho cow-girl drives a bitchin’ beast with bull-horns on the hood, while the blond haired/blue eyed Aryan, Matilda The Hun, chooses The Buzzbomb, a swaztika-labeled vehicle. Nero The Hero, a Roman send-up, drives a car decadent enough for Caligula himself. “Machine Gun” Joe Viterbo (Sly Stallone) is behind the wheel of a mobster-styled car with a huge knife on the hood, along with two Thompson Sub-Machine guns. The star of the race, however, is Frankenstein (David Carradine), who wears a leather suit and mask to hide his “racing scars”, which include dismembered arms, gashed head, and scarred up face.
How does one win this road-race? Easy, finish first, pick up points, and SURVIVE! Points, you say? Yep, by running over different age/sex people, the drivers can rack up some big totals. Babies are worth 70, for example. So, blood and guts reign supreme in this one, although the camp level i super high, so don’t expect realism. This movie is balls-to-the-wall excitement, and packed with action and driving stunts. The acting is DR2K is so-so, with the women being there for only reason, their looks. The movie also shows off the female character’s assets, as almost every female in the film is shown topless at some point. While the movie is short on story and realism, it is high on fun, and that’s what a movie like DR2K is all about.
Helping mix things up a bit are a few commentators for the road-race, most entertaining being Junior Bruce, who keeps things going in a humorous vein. A small rebellion mounts to try to stop the road-race, and that adds suspense to an otherwise violence and T&A driven flick. But don’t confuse what I mean, DR2K is a film for people who enjoy nudity, violence, and crude humor. The film has a huge cult following, and certainly is a very welcome addition to my DVD collection. If you’re an easy-going movie maniac who loves the sound of tires ripping flesh, buckle up, and put the pedal to the metal with Death Race 2000!
Video: How does it look?
Death Race 2000 is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As fans have suffered through full frame, worn out transfers for thirty years, it is about time we were given a proper treatment. I was so thrilled to have the movie finally presented in widescreen, but even beyond that, this is a solid effort. As expected, the print has some worn stretches, but looks more than acceptable. I compared this with other versions I have seen and the image here is more refined, with less print wear present. Not the kind of difference to pop your eyes out, but if you’ve seen previous home video editions, you’ll satisfied with this improved version.
Audio: How does it sound?
A basic mono soundtrack, which is passable, but unremarkable. I wouldn’t have minded a remix, but I would rather have a new transfer than a new soundtrack. This sounds as good, if not better than any other version of the movie available. That doesn’t mean it sounds great by any means, but this is as good as it gets for this material, without a significant effort. The music is thin, but more than solid, while sound effects and dialogue come across as well as possible. This is a low budget movie made three decades back, so a solid presentation is good enough for this critic.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Roger Corman provides his audio comments and is joined by star Mary Woronov, as the two talk about their memories of the production. Corman makes it clear that when the movie was made, the freedom of filmmakers was immense. He also contrasts that with the business today and seems to be genuine in his love for artistic freedom in films. The session has some silence from time to time, but Corman and Woronov do supply a more than enjoyable overall track. This disc also includes a brief, but quite worthwhile retrospective featurette, as well as the film’s very cool theatrical trailer.