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Death Race 2000
From the man who introduced us to Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron and Martin Scorsese . . . Shout! Factory is proud to present a new collectors series of Roger Corman s most loved productions.
Welcome to the year 2000, now a place plagued by a lack of morals and political unrest. The only thing that society looks forward to is the three-day Transcontinental Death Race, a high-speed competition that is won by the driver who collects the most points by killing spectators and pedestrians. But this year the drivers have something to worry about other than getting killed by rival contestants: there is a group of anti-race activists trying to stop the race for good. The games all-time champion, Frankenstein (David Carradine), takes on such colorful characters as Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), Nero The Hero (Martin Kove) and Matilda The Hun (Roberta Collins) in this dark comedy-science fiction classic directed by Paul Bartel ( Eating Raoul). ?
* New Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) High-Definition Transfer From The Interpositive Film Element
* David On Death Race: Interview with David Carradine
* Audio Commentary With Roger Corman & Mary Woronov
* New Audio Commentary With Assistant Director Lewis Teague And Editor Tina Hirsh
* Playing The Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000
* Ready To Wear: Interview with costume designer Jane Ruhm
* Designing Dystopia A detailed look at the design of the films now-legendary race cars, costumes and futuristic landscapes with members of the production, design and costume crew
* Start Your Engines: Interview with author Ib Melchior
* Killer Score: An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the films eclectic score
* Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman About Death Race 2000
* Theatrical Trailer
* Theatrical Trailer With Commentary By John Landis
* TV And Radio spots
* 12-Page Booklet
* New World Trailers
Editors Choice Award. The fast-paced Roger Corman sci-fi cult hit arrives in style. … As a genre picture, and as a nugget of pure unadulterated cult entertainment, Death Race 2000 is one of the best around. --IGN, June 16, 2010
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THE STORY: In the dystopian future year of 2000, nationally-celebrated racers in wildly insane-looking customized cars throttle across country in the annual Trans-Continental Road Race; America's favorite sport. A thoroughly twisted bonus aspect of this ultra-violent mechanized marathon is that the drivers can score additional points during the race by running down men, women and children! Legendary winner of multiple races... the often crashed & smashed, creamed & reamed but never down & out champion, "Frankenstein" (an appropriately menacing & stoic performance by David 'Kung Fu' Carradine), is the odds on favorite to take the crown once again, but the other blood-thirsty drivers, (a young Sylvester Stallone, in his second starring role, among them), are going to use every nasty, under-handed trick they can to eliminate Frankenstein and capture first place. As if that wasn't enough tension, a small band of government resistance rebels have hatched a plot to stop the Death Race. To this end, they have entrenched a double agent amongst the racers to sabotage the proceedings whenever possible. Their ultimate goal is to unseat the self-appointed Christ-like President of the United States and overthrow the iron-fisted rule of his thoroughly corrupt totalitarian government.
THOUGHTS: Paul Bartel directs this wild, one-of-a-kind, low budget, high speed crashfest with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. The violence is so over the top that it borders on cartoonish. The motivations of the various (and strictly one-dimensional) characters are uncomplicated & straightforward. Genius genre producer Roger Corman puts his indelible stamp on this crazed film and gives viewers of the time something they had likely never seen before. The more things change, it seems, the more they stay the same, so the movie's stinging political barbs are every bit as appropriate today as they were when the film was first released 40+ years ago. The thinly-veiled pokes at TV viewership & reality TV shows actually seem prophetically ahead of their time. The film manages to entertain, hitting all the right notes to keep it relevant & poignant even all these decades later. The wild car designs & energetically suicidal racing action continue to delight long-time enthusiasts of the film and draw new legions of fans, generation after generation. Yes, the film is cruel and decidedly insane, but it's also wickedly funny. That makes it hard NOT to enjoy, especially from a black comedy perspective.
THE BLU-RAY: This new release from Shout!Factory revs up the screen with a truly impressive picture & thundering sound. Original film elements were used to achieve the best possible picture and the resulting remastering is a major improvement in every way over all previous formats. I've had this film on VHS, DVD ...and now this beautiful Blu-ray. It looks just amazing here. The restored picture contains only minimal artifacting & pixelation; hardly any dust, dirt or debris to detract from the garish color scheme. Focus is quite sharp in most of the scenes. Sound is clear, strong & level. Honestly, if you already have DR2k on DVD, I can whole-heartedly recommend this upgrade as being absolutely worth the double dip. But wait... the improved picture & sound quality are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also several interesting behind the scenes featurettes, with recollections from both fans of the film and the original crew that helped make it. Interestingly enough, some of the best tales come from the woman who did the costume designs for the film. The interview with Ib Melchoir, whose story "The Racer" was the inspiration for the film, is well worth watching, too. All in all, this is a terrific release worthy of your attention & ownership! 5 STARS!
Every scene is the film is truly memorable, especially when Sylvester Stallone appears as Machine Gun Joe Viturbo, ever the irate second fiddle to David Carradine's Frankenstein.
What's great about this movie is that the filmmakers obviously knew how ridiculous and fun the madness could be and played up that angle instead of the brutality of the kills. Don't get me wrong, the kills are still gory, but there is a tinge of humor to each one that takes the edge off.
The film's short running time is one of its strengths as well, allowing the audience just enough breathing room before the next high speed hack and slash.
If you have a thing for broad, bloody, action comedy, this one's for you!