Why should you watch Death Race 2000? Because of its good elements, which is more than can be said about the crap Hollywood has popped out in recent years. First off, this is a film you shouldn’t take seriously, which is very apparent when you watch it. There is just so much fun and enjoyment that resonates from this film which you will feel the whole time you are watching it. To explain, it is like Wacky Races but with gratuitous violence and tasteful nudity, and a colorful cast of 5 unique racers. Everyone will have their pick for which they like the most. Each racer has their own theme that they revolve around; as do the cars they operate. Death Race 2000 is directed by Paul Bartel who really hasn’t directed anything else notable (only 14 titles including DR2000), Roger Corman produced the movie, with Shout Factory releasing it. Corman has produced such films as; Little Pet Shop of Horrors, Rock N’ Roll High School, plus an array of other titles,” The Racer” by Ib Melchior was the inspiration behind the movie.
The five racers are; Frankenstein played by David Carradine; “Machine Gun” Joe Viterbo played by Sylvester Stallone; Calamity Jane played by Mary Woronov; Matilda the Hun played by Roberta Collins; and finally Nero the Hero played by Martin Kove. The Racers’ themes are as follows:
- Frankenstein – A Monster and a Mysterious Figure;
- Joe Viterbo – The Classic Gangster;
- Calamity Jane – The Gung Ho Cowgirl;
- Matilda the Hun – The Adorable Nazi & Germany’s Sweetheart;
- Nero the Hero – The Hedonistic Roman Racer.
Now, it doesn’t stop there with the great diversity of each racer. Along with each racer is an accompanying navigator of the opposite sex, great costumes and accessories.
Frankenstein is dressed in all black; wearing a mask to cover his scared face along with a black helmet that only leaves his eyes, mouth, and nostrils open. Along with a black leather cape, the rest of him is clad in black leather as well, boots, pants, jacket, gloves, all black leather. Now his car is a different story, you would think that it is all black to match his clothes, but you’re dead wrong, Frankenstein’s car has green and gold on it with two red eyes and giant white teeth growing out of the hood like roots.
Joe Viterbo wears pin stripe suits throughout the whole movie, his car on the other hand is why he is my favorite character; it is a simple black car BUT with two Tommy guns on the front side, just above the headlights. The best feature of his car is right in the middle of the hood; just where a car ornament would be is a GIANT Rambo knife sticking outward to stab whoever is dumb enough to get in front of it.
Calamity Jane, being a Cowgirl, is dressed how you would expect; she has a white jacket, boots, and a blue helmet adorned with roses and white flowers. Her car is a bull; it has cow spots that are white and brown with two huge horns on the front that look like someone took them off a longhorn. Along with a metal nose ring in the front, the car also has menacing red eyes where the front-end lights would go.
Matilda being the Nazi wears a regular black uniform and a red armband with a swastika, her helmet is gold and black with a spike at the top. Her car is in a gray and camo color scheme with a giant needle in the front and a cannon looking attachment atop the vehicle.
Lastly we get to Nero the Hero; he is dressed in darker leather and looks like a Germanic warrior with basic leather garb. His car looks similar to Frankenstein’s as far as the teeth go but with a tan and brown color scheme painted across it.
The story follows these racers as they compete to win the nation’s top viewing sport, a transcontinental race where the winner gets to win big. Parallel to the race the movie will show the story of a lowly band of rebels trying to take down their repressive government. The Rebels first act against the regime is to kill one of the racers to show their rejection of the horrible powers at be and the race itself stating it is an unnecessary act of glorified violence. After said racer is dead, the Rebels vow to kill more to get the attention of the leaders to meet their demands.
Pros & Cons (Contains Spoilers)
First thing you will notice is how crisp the film looks; it is so nice that I feel like it was made 5 years ago even though this was filmed in (1975), the transfer to DVD is amazing you normally don’t get good quality with old films. Next is this guy.
He is spunky and a very nice add to the movie, he reminds me a little of the Smash TV announcer when I started the movie, with a big grin and excitement at the audience and you, “Big Money, Big Prizes”. Matilda the Hun is referred to as the “Swastika Sweetheart” which I found to be freaking hilarious. Martin Kove plays Nero the Hero, better known as the Cobra Kai Sensei from The Karate Kid Trilogy. Joe Viterbo’s car has a GIANT knife on the front of it where he stabs a construction worker in the groin, OWWW. Even the blood itself is ridiculous, the color is a bright red which I think adds to the over the top element of this movie. The movie has a lot of sadistic humor, my favorite is when they are interviewing the widow of the construction worker Joe killed and they tell her she has won a prize.
One of the commentators (as shown below) is awesome.
His voice is monotonous but in a good way, which makes for good dry humor.
There are only two Cons I have with this movie. One, the ending seemed very rushed with Frankenstein immediately meeting and killing the president. Number two is the fact that the movie runs way too short, only going for an 1 hour and 24 minutes.