Before Rocky. Before Rambo. Before The Expendables, Stallone was ‘Machine Gun Joe’ in the race of the next century that could be your last…. DEATH RACE 2000. But Sly Stallone wasn’t the headliner of this scifi cross-country race. David Carradine was the star of this film as Frankenstein, the scarred Death Race champion that everybody wanted to beat. His only help was Annie (Simone Griffeth), the navigator that helped him through the treacherous course.
This hyper-violent movie set its mark because of how it predicted that reality TV would consume us in the future. The entire race was telecast and people tuned in by the millions just to see how many pedestrians would get ran over by the drivers for points. The best example of that was the scene with the senior citizens. Frankenstein was supposed to be the monster of the movie, but he surprises the audience with a couple acts of humanity. And come on, how cool was Frankenstein’s converted Corvette Stingray? There were actually plenty of surprise moments in this movie that made for an insane look at the future.
For you 80s kids, this pre Running Man, out of control, reality TV based story might have slipped past your radar. But that’s no reason not to go back and see just how ‘out there’ the scifi of the 70s used to be. And don’t confuse DEATH RACE 2000 with the Jason Statham / Tyrese remake – Death Race – that paled in comparison.