Friday, February 01, 2013

Scene Stealer: Death Race 2000

If your only experience with the Death Race series is the 2008 Jason Statham Mario-Kart inspired remake, then you must do yourself a favour and seek out the 1975 original. Unlike its remake, Death Race 2000 embraces both the silliness of its concept, and the fact that it had a limited budget to work with. An added bonus is the truly memorable performance by Sylvester Stallone, which will have you wishing he played villains more often.

Set in a dystopian future, the film centers around the deadly Transcontinental Road Race. A symbol of American dominance and values, the competition consist of cars racing coast-to-coast over a three day period. The drivers score points based on the number of innocent pedestrians they kill along the way. The points are graded on a perverse system in which babies and the elderly rank amongst the highest point rewards.

As with any good cult classic, there are ample scenes in this film to highlight for its sheer insanity. However, it is the Mercy Hospital scene that best embodies this film for me. In the scene the hero, Frankenstein (David Carradine), is approaching a hospital that is having its yearly “Euthanasia Day”. Although this gives Frankenstein the opportunity to score major points, he does something rather unexpected. What I love about the scene is that it perfectly captures the type of person Frankenstein is while still highlighting America’s lust for violence. I especially enjoy the commentary from the aptly named Grace Pander (Joyce Jameson) and the Howard Cosell inspired Harold (Carle Benson). Grace always seems to be a “dear friend” to anyone who is remotely famous for a minute; and Harold’s dry delivery sells comedic lines like “even the fearsome Frankenstein has a 100% red-blooded American sense of humour”



    But you forget to mention the two most important people: Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane and the delightful Real Don Steele!!! (They're both dear, DEAR friends of mine.)

    1. Mary Woronov is fantastic in the film. I loved the banter that she had with Roberta Collins. Don Steele was entertaining as well, but he did not bring a smile to my face the way Joyce Jameson did whenever she was on screen.


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