Death Race 2000 Paul Bartel

Why the sport of hit and run driving never caught on in our society is beyond me, because Death Race 2000 is as fun as American Gladiators, Manhunt and bumper cars combined. Set in the future — well, back in 1975, it was the future — the world is obsessed with blood sports, especially an annual race from New York City to Los Angeles where it's more important to run down pedestrians than it is to finish. Heroes have been established and the race finds everything from groupies to rabid fans just "dying" to be victims for the sake of their heroes. Of course, the satirical and political edges are in your face and hard to miss, with elements such as rebellious humanitarian protestors trying to sabotage the race, an assassination attempt on the president and, best of all, a points system where the over-75 crowd are worth a whopping 100 points (Euthanasia Day at the geriatric hospital is most entertaining). The cast is an impressive bunch even by A-list standards, as this B movie features Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine (as the hero, Frankenstein), as well as a number of recognisable faces. The bizarre characters (a Nazi-clad driving team?), gory deaths, fondness for T&A and the hilarious plot obviously helped make it a cult favourite, and arguably the best death sport movie ever made, even ahead of Rollerball (the original, that is) and The Running Man. "Playing the Game" is a customary featurette that looks back at the film 30 years later and features interviews with Roger Corman and some of the cast and crew. Corman tells how he found Stallone to be a "good heavy" and perfect for the role of Machine Gun Joe, but told his wife at the time how the man who'd be nominated for an Oscar the next year could never be a lead actor — a comment he was clearly humbled by. Plus: commentary, trailer. (Buena Vista)