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Death Race 2000 - Special Edition

4 out of 5 stars 269 customer reviews

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(Dec 13, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Low budget films allow one to experiment, to take chances with a zany idea like DEATH RACE 2000. Paul Bartel had the type of black humor that was required to direct this cross-country racing mayhem; while Chuck Griffith handled 2nd unit direction for the action sequences, featuring futuristic fast cars created by an award-winning designer. To compete with David Carradine's dark hero, I cast Sylvester Stallone as the heavy, whom I had first noticed with his brilliant performance in THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH. This combination was particularly effective, and DEATH RACE 2000 remains one of my most successful films of all time." -- Roger Corman In the year 2000, hit and run has become the national sport. It's a no-holds barred cross-country race, in which the aim is to kill off not only your opponents, but as many pedestrians as possible. David Carradine takes on Sylvester Stallone in this classic adrenaline thriller that will make you look both ways twice before you cross.

No doubt about it, Death Race 2000 is one of the greatest B-movies ever made. A crown jewel in the career of B-movie king Roger Corman, it's a sublime example of exploitative filmmaking from a time when Corman's low-budget quickies were about to be swept aside by the blockbuster success of Jaws and Star Wars, and all of its outrageous ingredients combined to create a schlock-movie masterpiece. Liberally infused with director Paul Bartel's macabre sense of humor, Corman's mandatory formula for success (R-rated violence and nudity, served up at least once every 15 minutes) is zanily applied to a near-future scenario (similar to Rollerball, also released in 1975) in which a fascist empire appeases its oppressed citizens with "Death Race 2000," an automotive spectacle in which five costumed racers drive wacky race cars cross-country from New York to "New Los Angeles," scoring points with hit-and-run killings awarded on a sliding scale, with highest points for hitting children and the elderly! In addition to "Calamity Jane" (played by former Andy Warhol acolyte Mary Woronov), "Matilda the Hun" (Roberta Collins), and "Nero the Hero" (Martin Kove), the hottest contestants are "Machine Gun" Joe Viturbo (Sylvester Stallone, on the verge of Rocky stardom) and the reigning champion "Frankenstein" (David Carradine), whose "Death Race" prowess has reached near-mythic proportions.

Filmed for $300,000 on desert-road and freeway locations throughout California's San Fernando Valley, Death Race 2000 packs more entertainment into 78 minutes than most movies can muster in two hours or more. Although it originated as a serious short story by Ib Melchior (best known as the writer-director of The Angry Red Planet), Corman took a cue from Dr. Strangelove and gave the material a satirical spin, resulting in non-graphic road-kills that are more hilarious than horrific, especially with the play-by-play race commentary by legendary disc jockey "The Real Don Steele," whose priceless performance (along with Carradine's deadpan drollery) turns Death Race 2000 into a low-comedy classic. The deadly car bodies were designed by Dean Jeffries (who also customized the "Monkeemobile") and fitted onto Volkswagen chassis, and Bartel's ingenious use of a meager budget epitomized the Corman aesthetic, reaping impressive box-office profits on its way to becoming one of the most beloved cult classics of all time. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Playing the Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000
  • Original theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth, Mary Woronov, Roberta Collins
  • Directors: Paul Bartel
  • Writers: Charles B. Griffith, Ib Melchior, Robert Thom
  • Producers: Jim Weatherill, Roger Corman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2005
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B8QFZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,170 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Death Race 2000 - Special Edition" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
So these are the words of Calamity Jane, a contender in Roger Corman's low budget farce, "Death Race 2000." It is interesting that Amazon paired Corman's film with Norman Jewison's "Rollerball" and for good reason: one movie is pure satire and played strictly for laughs while the latter is a far more serious and somber commentary on the media, America's love affair with violence steeped in what we call "sport," and the cult of celebrity. Both films explore these themes quite differently, yet both are entertaining as they are disturbing.

As a black comedy, "Death Race 2000" is more or less a cheaply made exploitation flick (budgeted at approximately $300,000), that never pretends for an instant to be anything more than a satire of the future and a parody of "Rollerball"--a far more ambitious, absorbing and expensive film.

Corman's film depicts a "game"--the Transcontinental Death Race--designed to cater to society's need to channel its aggression and hostile impulses as sort of a 21st century equivalent of the Roman circus offering spectators both entertainment and a catharsis in its more manic and kinetic moments.

Yes, the film is crazy--from the attack on Frankenstein by the French Air Force to Thomasina Paine (hilarious!) and her revolutionaries' thwarted attempts to assassinate "Mr. President" and end the Transcontinental Death Race once and for all. While the special effects in Corman's film are decidedly low-rent, save for some interesting matte paintings injected at the beginning of the film, the cars themselves, customized by car designer James Powers, are both creative and imaginative. The film, for the most part is amusing and very funny. The "Real Don Steele" is terrific as the commentator with one-liners that will leave you laughing.
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2 Comments 28 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Hey, what more can I add that hasn't already been said? When this first came out in lurid color on the Big Screen I loved it. And I love it today after watching it a hundred times. Carnivorous cars driven by caracature cowgals and gangsters, nazis with names like "Mathilda the Hun" and "Herman the German", and a mysterious champion named Frankenstein whose oft-rebuilt face is always masked, not to mention the Resistance, the French Air Force, and all the other "dear friends". Just don't get to like any of them too much. If you've never seen this sick, hilarious parody, get it now. Mr. President will love you for it.
Comment 22 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Finally, fans of Death Race 2000 can enjoy this satirical film in the original widescreen format (1.78:1). My compliments to Buena Vista Entertainment for making the effort to release this film in the format that originally graced theaters and drive-ins in 1975. Not only do the pulse-pounding car race scenes benefit from this, but also the "cramped" dialogue sequences between Annie & Frankenstein are loosened up. Paul Bartel's great direction - not to mention the 2nd unit direction of the race sequences - is really on display here: no longer hacked up in a full-frame format, it's really quite a slick picture. The widescreen presentation really pays off in the flick when the 5 racers initally split up (at about the 10:40 mark) and especially in Calamity Jane's bloodthirsty pursuit of Matilda the Hun (after Matilda's scoring of Jane's navigator). Of course, the explosions benefit immensely as well.

The 10-minute featurette with Roger Corman, Mary Woronov, Martin Kove, and writer Charles Griffith are enlightening, especially Kove's description of his effeminate depiction of Nero the Hero. What is obviously missing, though, are comments from Sylvester Stallone & David Carradine. I'd also have loved to have Roberta Collins' & Fred Grandy's take on the film (odds of that are no better than a snowball's chance in h***, but one can dream can't he?).

I recommend getting this DVD (the Special Edition, released 12-13-05) before it disappears. I have a feeling this may be the best edition we'll see of Death Race 2000 in the DVD format. Enjoy it for what it is - biting satire that could have only been made in the 70's exploitation film days.
Comment 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I first watched Death Race 2000 (where else?) late at night on a cable movie network, not knowing what to expect. I'd heard many things about it before that night; how gory it was, how unnecessary its nudity was, how it put Sylvester Stallone on the map before Rocky...but what I saw that night was a profound, humorous and thought-provoking social commentary on society's uncontrollable infatuation with violence.

In director Paul Bartel's alternate version of the year 2000, the United States is a self-righteous totalitarian dictatorship run under the fist of "Mister President". A violent obsession consumes the nation, its outlet the annual Transcontinental Road Race, where drivers earn points by running over innocent bystanders (more for mowing down children, disabled or the elderly). The film centers around Frankenstein (the late David Carradine), the prototypical "iron man", whose numerous injuries are as famous as his victories (hence, his nickname). However, the enigma surrounding this onyx-clad veteran of the "Death Race" may not be all it seems...

The film is tremendous social satire, lampooning the media, violence and the nature of competition itself. However, in spite of most of its brilliance and Bartel's trademark dark humor, the film is very much a low-budget product of its time. A Roger Corman production, the film is certainly low-budget, raunchy and bloody. The opening titles and establishing shot of the raceway are enough evidence. This film wasn't meant to blow viewers away with its visuals.
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