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DVD Shopping Bag: Death Race 2000 Blu-ray

Roger Corman's Cult Classics

By Robert T. Trate     June 22, 2010
Source: Mania.com


David Carradine in Roger Corman’s Cult Classic Death Race 2000
© Shout Factory/Bob Trate

This week the DVD Shopping Bag is a little light. There aren’t a ton of releases hitting the shelves but thankfully Shout! Factory is releasing a cult classic on Blu-ray. Death Race 2000 (1975) was produced by Roger Corman and directed by Paul Bartel. The film stars David Carradine and an up and coming actor named Sylvester Stallone. Carradine plays the greatest racer of all time, Frankenstein. The driving force in his life is the race. The media has put the perfect spin on his exploits making Frankenstein a national hero. He is personal friends with the president of the United Providences of America, a relationship which is beneficial as the president uses the race to give the masses exactly what they want.
 
The race is everything as Corman and Bartel supply a colorful crew of characters to keep both the masses on screen and in the theater entertained. Each car has a two man crew, a driver and a navigator. Much like professional wrestling there are heroes, villains and gorgeous ladies in these crews. The cars themselves also have unique attributes and names. Yet Corman doesn’t just focus on the drivers, the media personalities also play important parts to the story as well. Their purpose is to spin the race so that the government can keep feeding the people the lies they want them to hear.  
 
Oddly enough at the center of this film there is a love story. Though strange and twisted Frankenstein and his new navigator, Annie (Simone Griffeth), get down and dirty a few times but find they have some common ground. Frankenstein isn’t open with what his intentions are but he learns about hers quickly enough.
 
Make no mistakes about it this is a fun film. It is dark, twisted, satirical and funny. Carradine is plays both the hero and the mysterious villain at the same time. This world is so dark it seems fitting that a man named Frankenstein should be its hero.
 
Death Today:
Yes, there was a remake in 2008, but without the crazy cars I couldn’t bring myself to see it. In watching the original again, I marveled at the late Carradine’s performance. I wondered what ever happened to the gorgeous Simone Griffeth (see the Blu-ray’s booklet for details) and loved how over the top Stallone was. The film is fun with its $1.98 special effects and cheesy matte paintings. This film was so much fun that I can’t understand why they didn’t bring the same over the top professional wresting/ mixed with NASCAR to the remake. I saw the trailer and thought the whole prison setting was a little too real. Death Race 2000 circa 1975 took chances. It took low budget film making to the edge and back again. This is probably the reason why people have been discovering this film for the last 35 years.
 
Death Blu:
Death Race 2000 on Blu-ray looks as if you are seeing the master print for the first time. There isn’t a mark on the film. Oddly enough the picture quality is so clear one can easily see the lines that separate the credits from one another. Natural light is a huge factor in picture quality for Blu-rays. The more natural light in a film the better it will look. There are a few hotel scenes in the movie and the colors pop but not nearly as well as the driving scenes on the highway. The Monster, Frankenstein’s car, is a brilliant collection of teeth, scales and spikes that in 1080p looks alive and becomes a character in the film.
 
There are tons of special features on the Blu-ray including interviews with Carradine and Corman. A commentary by Corman is a must for fans of the film. A documentary has been assembled for the Blu-ray, just under twelve minutes, it too is a must see for new and old fans of Death Race 2000.
 
Death Factory:
To be honest films like this usually get a special edition release when a remake transpires. Rarely are they ever given this kind of special treatment let alone be on Blu-ray. It has been two years since the remake and this version is just coming out now. The quality and care that went into this Blu-ray can only be matched by a Criterion Collection DVD or Blu-ray. Special thanks go out to Shout! Factory for taking this cult film and giving it the royal treatment it deserves. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t stop here as they are about to release Corman’s the Forbidden World and Galaxy of Terror with the same treatment.
 
Top 5 Picks of the Week
 
2. Green Zone [Blu-ray]
3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Blu-ray 3D)
4. The Last Station [Blu-ray]
5. Tromeo and Juliet [Blu-ray]
 
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
 
Green Zone [Blu-ray] ~ Matt Damon
 
Green Zone
 
Private Investigator Varg Veum ~ Trond Espen Seim
 
ANIME
 
Ah My Goddess: Season 2 Box Set (Viridian Collection) ~ Eileen Stevens, Annice Moriarty, and Drew Aaron
 
Bleach, Vol. 29
 
La Corda D'Oro Primo: Passo: Collection 1 (2pc)
 
CARTOONS
 
Afro Samurai: The Complete Murder Sessions [Blu-ray] ~ Samuel Jackson, Mark Hamill, Ron Perlman, and Lucy Liu
 
Avatar The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1 (Collector's Edition)
 
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Blu-ray 3D) ~ Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, and Andy Samberg
 
Tom & Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection (2pc)
 
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
 
She's Out of My League ~ Jay Baruchel
 
She's Out of My League [Blu-ray]
 
Tromeo and Juliet [Blu-ray] ~ Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, and Maximillian Shaun
 
Criterion Collection
 
Close-Up (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] ~ Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abolfazl Ahankhah, and Mehrdad Ahankhah
 
Close-Up (Criterion Collection)
 
Red Desert (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] ~ Richard Harris
 
Red Desert (Criterion Collection) ~ Richard Harris
 
HORROR
 
Nosferatu (plus Vampyr & Le Vampire - Gothic Horror Collection Volume I) ~ Max Schreck
 
Wolf Moon ~ Max Ryan
 
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
 
Death Race 2000 (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray] ~ David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, and Simone Griffeth
 
Death Race 2000 (Roger Corman's Cult Classics)
 
Fireball ~ Ian Somerhalder, Lexa Doig, and Aleks Paunovic
 
Riverworld ~ Tahmoh Penikett, Laura Vandervoort, Mark Deklin, and Peter Wingfield
 
Riverworld [Blu-ray]
 
TV LAND
 
Checkmate - The Complete Series - 14 DVD Set! Over 58 Hours! ~ Doug McClure, Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Anne Baxter
 
Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season ~ Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, and Jerry Ferrara
 
Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season [Blu-ray]
 
Hung: The Complete First Season ~ Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, Eddie Jemison, and Charlie Saxton
 
Hung: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]
 
UNDENIABLE CLASSICS
 
A Star Is Born (Blu-ray Book) ~ Judy Garland
 
A Star Is Born (Deluxe Edition)
 
BOX SETS
 
The Bourne Trilogy (The Bourne Identity | The Bourne Supremacy | The Bourne Ultimatum) [Blu-ray] ~ Matt Damon
 
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 12
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karas1 6/22/2010 6:40:10 AM

I understand that Death Race 2000 was Stalone's first non x-rated film (he started in pornos).  It IS odd that a man like him who isn't particurlarly handsome and has a speech impediment should make it as a movie star.

The remake was a decent film.  It had a more realistic feel than the original but it was just as much a satire about the role of media in our society.  And while it didn't have that wonky feel of the original, with the grizly deaths of a variety of drivers the gore quotient went up considerably.  It had different charms...

redhairs99 6/22/2010 7:25:11 AM

I know it's not a DVD release, but the newest Rifftrax is available for download today!  The Return of King rifftrax completes the series for the old guys of MST3K.  It's been two years since they riffed Two Towers, I was wondering if this would ever be done!

tiredjay 6/22/2010 7:43:30 AM

No, Death Race 2000 was not Stallone's first non-x-rated film, and didn't start in pornos.  Jeez... internet rumours.

His first movie was a softcore movie, but he wasn't in porn.  Everything after that was mainstream, including a bit part in Woody Allen's Bananas, and a starring role in The Lords of Flatbush, where Corman noticed him.

 

Hobbs 6/22/2010 7:49:14 AM

Death Race 2000 is one of those guilty pleasure movies I don't like to admit I like.   I still laugh at the hospital scene where they line up the old people in wheel chairs for easy points and Frankenstien turns off at the last second and runs over the nurses instead.

StarlightGuard 6/22/2010 7:59:24 AM

I heard Brad Pitt was in his own porn movie.

Oh wait, I have a copy right here -- it's the only one in existence.

so karas, how much you willing to pay to see Brad do the naughty? :)

StarlightGuard 6/22/2010 8:06:49 AM

Here's a link to Sly's skin flick:

http://www.tlavideo.com/cult-italian-stallion/p-205481-7

I just can't see him doing....ugh...that.

lracors 6/22/2010 8:14:00 AM

I just had a horrible film night with my son we watched:

Death Race 2000 - We never stopped laughing during Death Race 2000, the cheesy commentator, the kill points, Sly in horrible acting mode. Funniest line by Machine Gun Joe (Sly): "Ya know ya think your cute but your like a baked potato."

Showgirls - omg we laughed so hard we stopped breathing at it's sheer awefulness, horrible acting, writing, and well everything... classic horrible film. Funniest line by James (Glenn Plummer): "I have a problem with pussy."

Howard the Duck - 5 minutes in he looked at me and said, "Is this a real movie". That alone killed me and sent me into fits of more laugher. Funniest line Howard the Duck: "I am a master of Quack-fu". Priceless just priceless.
 

Dodgyb2001 6/22/2010 8:20:39 AM

But stallone basically made his own career writing and directing Rocky and winning the Oscar for the screenplay.... Very odd.

What's even weirder is I almost walked into him Fifth Avenue. I was on holiday in NY for a week, and the first night I stood behind Eric Stoltz in a supermarket in the theatre district. The next morning I was wandering down 5th looking at the skyscrapers and heard a voice 'Is that Sylvester Stallone?' so I look down and 10 feet in front of me there he was! I thought to myself 'Of course it's him, he's 5 foot tall and 5 foot wide!'. I wish I'd had the nerve to talk to him, he seems like a really nice guy. I later that week saw Jeff Goldblum, Billy Crudup and Zeljko Ivanek in a play 'The Pillowman', Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria coming out of Spamalot, and Woody Harrelson looking well nervous as he got his motorbike back in an underground parking lot. My mate, who'd lived there for 5 years said 'You've seen more famous people in one week than I've seen the entire time I've been here'....

Really surreal week.

Dodgyb2001 6/22/2010 8:25:40 AM

Sorry, I thought he directed, but he only wrote Rocky...

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