Thursday, February 06, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Death Race 2000 (1975) *

R, 80 min.
Director: Paul Bartel
Writers: Robert Thom, Charles Griffith, Ib Melchoir (story “The Racer”)
Starring: David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins, Martin Kove, Louisa Moritz, The Real Don Steele, Joyce Jameson, Carle Benson, Sandy McCallum, Paul Laurence, Harriet Medin, Vince Trankina, Bill Morey

I’m all for cult classics. I love “Repo Man”. “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” is a delicious guilty pleasure. However, so many of them are really no good at all. There’s a reason a cult needs to be formed in order to appreciate them. “Death Race 2000” falls into that category. Only a cult could appreciate this movie.

It’s bad. The production values are bad. The acting is bad. The script is bad. The plot is bad. The costumes are bad. The editing is bad. The cars are even terrible. You’d think it’d at least have some cool looking cars going for it, but they all look like life sized Matchbox cars. No, not Matchbox, some sort of off brand of minature toy cars, the kind you’d get at a dollar store in a pack of twelve.

It raises questions about my youth as well. You see, when I was young people, including my father, used to make jokes when driving that if you hit certain people they’d be worth a certain amount of points. That’s the primary premise behind “Death Race 2000”, which takes place in the future (the year 2000 at the time it was made) and the most popular national entertainment is a televised car race across the country where the contestants earn points by running people down.

Now, I don’t know how my father got turned onto this game, but it certainly wasn’t by watching this movie, which he would’ve turned off within the first five minutes. Anyway, he never actually ran anyone down. That’s a good thing.

So… what else? This is one of Sylvester Stallone’s first movies. He plays the antagonist, a competition driver known as Machine Gun Joe. Um… Oh, this is one of Tak Fujimoto’s earliest cinematography credits. He went on to photograph some very good looking films. This is not one of them. That’s about it. It’s really bad, like “Sharknado” bad.

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