Death Race 2000 (1975)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Oct-2000

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Filmographies-Cast-1
Biographies-Cast-2
Listing-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 79:51 (Case: 78)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Paul Bartel
Studio
Distributor
New World Pictures
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring David Carradine
Sylvester Stallone
Simone Griffith
Mary Woronov
Roberta Collins
Martin Kove
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $24.95 Music Paul Chihara


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is not the worst movie ever made, but they were certainly trying for it. The concept is simple, and familiar: the movie so bad that it is good. I doubt this movie was the origin of the concept, but it certainly fits. The name Roger Corman is associated with many such movies - here he is a producer.

    In the world of this movie, the USA was taken over by a dictator (like all good dictators, he is called "Mr President") in 1979 after a "world crash" (a stockmarket crash, one supposes). In 1981, a new "sporting event" was initiated, called a Death Race. It's a race from one side of America to the other, with points scored for killing  people along the way. The film begins in the year 2000, at the start of the 20th annual race. There are five competitors:

    Each of the drivers has a navigator of the opposite sex. Frankenstein's navigator, Annie (Simone Griffeth), is working for an incompetent resistance movement. The members of the resistance are out to kill the participants in the race. 

    There's some nudity in this movie, but it's easily overlooked while you concentrate on the awful dialogue, dreadful sets, and appallingly bad special effects.

    There are many moments of clumsy satire in this movie. The television announcers are probably the most clumsy of all - they are parodies of 1970s announcers. The political morals are blatant; the secret police are obvious in their awful brown suits and red flowers, or just brown shirts. I suppose you could make a virtue out of its lack of political correctness.

    Perhaps the crowning touch is the commentary on violence that overlays the start of the credits.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Avenue One are renowned for poor quality transfers. This is one of their worst. I am fairly sure you could duplicate the quality of this transfer by taking a VHS rental tape, preferably one that has been rented hundreds of times, transfer it with minimal attention to detail, then over-compress it. Maybe not. Basically, this disc is a sampler of all manner of artefacts.

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. That is not the theatrical aspect ratio - the clipping to the right and left is quite obvious on some scenes - it looks like Pan & Scan.

    The image is fairly soft on close-ups, and appalling on long shots. Shadow detail isn't too good. There may be some low-level noise, but it is hidden under all the other artefacts.

    Colour is not bad, but the sky is frequently over-exposed into blurry white. Colour bleed is impossible to judge with all the other artefacts in operation.

    I won't try to give time locations of different artefacts - they are too frequent. There are lots of examples of aliasing, but that's the least of the problems. There are moments of moire, loads of film artefacts of various descriptions, including flecks, spots, scratches, and blobs, and more MPEG artefacts than I know names for. There's shimmer, judder, striations, flicker, haloing, and cross-colouration. There are missing frames. Fundamentally, there's a distinct lack of resolution in the image, overlaid with noise and other artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. You could claim that some of the problems on this disc are the result of over-compression to fit everything onto one layer, but 80 minutes isn't normally enough to stress one layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a single soundtrack on this disc - English Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding. There's no apparent reason for the surround encoding - the soundtrack is essentially mono. There are some distortions in the audio, including phase variations, pops and crackles, and it's mastered at a high level - maybe they tried to compensate for the other flaws by making it louder, but that just makes the flaws louder, too.

    Dialogue is mostly easy enough to understand. Audio sync is rarely a problem, although there are moments that are just a little out - 36:13, for example.

    The score is by Paul Chihara. It is clichéd, monotonous, and predictable. It fits the movie perfectly.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not noticeably used by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are quite a few extras on this disc, but they are far from high quality.

Menu

    The main menu is static, with music. You know that you have a soundtrack treat in store when there are pops and crackles in the menu music...

Filmography

    The only filmography is for Sylvester Stallone.

Biographies

    Two biographies: David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone.

Credit

    Nine pages of credits.

Picture Gallery

    Seven photos from the film.

Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It looks like the Region 1 version is also Pan & Scan, but it includes an interview with Roger Corman, which could well be worthwhile. The quality of the Region 1 disc is unlikely to be lower than this, so I'm tempted to suggest the R1 as the better buy. Or perhaps this is one time you should consider renting the VHS...

Summary

    This is a cult movie, presently very badly on DVD.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is poor.

    There are several extras, but they are not very high in quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, December 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Too generous - Addison M