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Death Race 2000

Year: 1975
Production Co: New World Pictures
Director: Paul Bartel
Producer: Roger Corman
Cast: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone
If you knew Roger Corman's work but didn't know this was one of his films, you'd be able to guess. The cheesy characters, the cornball dialogue. The unnecessary nudity. The tongue-in-cheek violence. The cut corners in exposition and quick, non-nonsense resolution, a Troma-like exercise in extreme cost-cutting on what was probably an already miniscule budget.

As the dodgy matte painting behind a New York stadium tells us, it's the future in an idyllic society where a mystical President holds sway through an Orwellian society of all-pervasive surveillance and cultural control.

As countless fables from 1984 itself to The Running Man have satirised, the masses are diverted from asking who's behind the ministries with soma in the form of a sporting event - in this case a cross-country car race.

A group of iconic drivers and their navigators collect at the starting line and set off, only to reveal to us (in the style of the classic King/Bachman novel The Long Walk) that the object is to amass as many points as possible by killing civilians along the way.

What else is the scene where the hospital leaves the elderly and infirm out in the middle of the road for the racers to 'claim' but a goofy nod to Logan's Run?

This morality play is rough-housed together in a short, sharp, cheap movie that deserves the mantle 'classic' for its grindhouse status than for any sort of cinematic quality.

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