Thursday, August 17, 2006

Death Race 2000 (1975)

I am appalled. There is a movie out there which depicts, in gory B-movie detail, five contestants’ trans-continental race in which the object is to hit as many pedestrians as possible, babies and codgers being worth the most. Women are naked and the value of human life is ruthlessly dismissed.

And I’d never seen it before.

I think the brilliance of this movie is contained in the tongue-in-cheek attitude of it being played almost totally straight. No one’s winking, except maybe Sylvester Stallone, who does a show-stealing turn as an uncouth Chicago gangster stereotype that is so committed you have to love it. Even though I still don’t believe that David Carradine could take him.

The raunchy humor is decidedly dark, as when one driver’s attempts at a three point turn bring her unknowingly ever-closer to a hidden land mine; or when Nero the Hero’s navigator, while directing him towards a picnic, instructs him “if they scatter, go for the baby and the mother”; or when the nurses and doctors of a rest-home facility wheel their contended charges out into the street for “euthanasia day.” This violent attitude is embraced so playfully by the film that it goes beyond gratuity to hilarious. There are so many great quotes I could go on forever, and it’s all wrapped neatly in a low-budget but never shoddy package which includes some very attractive women whose assets are not wasted. And some of the humor is actually kind of witty.

If you have any sense of humor at all, you’ve probably seen it already. But in case you’ve been living in a cave like I have, you have to see this movie.
Unless stuff like this:

offends you.

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