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Death Race comes round again

Posted at 2:23 PM on August 18, 2008 by Euan Kerr

The impending release of "Death Race" conjures images of "Death Race 2000," the tongue-in-cheek Paul Bartel classic where hit-and-run driving has become the national sport for the the US. It starred a post-"Kung Fu" David Carradine as "Frankenstein," the top Death Race driver, and a very young Sylvester Stallone. Like all of Bartel's early films, including his next film "Eating Raoul," it roars right over any pretence of good taste and has a whole lot of fun doing it.

While the original looks extremely cheesy nowadays, it seemed like cutting edge stuff 33 years ago. There was concern that the movie would cause mayhem on the roads when the film came out in the UK.

A friend of mine was walking through a seaside town in Scotland when the film came out, and was surprised to see the spike-covered car which Carradine drives in the film suddenly appear round the corner.

A man dressed in a Carradine-style Frankenstein costume leapt out of the car and began handing advertising stickers to everyone within arms reach. When someone pointed out that the vast majority of kids in the crowd couldn't actually go see the film due to bloody content drawing what was still called an X rating in the UK, he quickly dived back into the car and re-emerged with piles of "Benji" stickers.

The new "Death Race" in the hands of director Paul W.S. Anderson appears to take itself much more seriously. It should be a trip seeing Jason Stratham and Joan Allen compete to see who can get the steeliest set to their jaws if nothing else

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