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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Death Race 2000 [Blu-ray]

 

(Paul Bartel, 1975)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: New World Pictures

Video: Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (B + C untested)

Runtime: 1:19:35.812

Disc Size: 24,382,743,808 bytes

Feature Size: 16,292,388,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.14 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 22nd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• David On Death Race: Interview with David Carradine
• Audio Commentary With Roger Corman & Mary Woronov
• New Audio Commentary With Assistant Director Lewis Teague And Editor Tina Hirsh
• Playing The Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000
• Ready To Wear: Interview with costume designer Jane Ruhm
• Designing Dystopia A detailed look at the design of the films now-legendary race cars, costumes and futuristic landscapes with members of the production, design and costume crew
• Start Your Engines: Interview with author Ib Melchior
• Killer Score: An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the films eclectic score
• Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman About Death Race 2000
• Theatrical Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer With Commentary By John Landis
• TV And Radio spots
• 12-Page Booklet
• New World Trailers

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From the man who introduced us to Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron and Martin Scorsese . . . Shout! Factory is proud to present a new collectors series of Roger Corman s most loved productions.


Welcome to the year 2000, now a place plagued by a lack of morals and political unrest. The only thing that society looks forward to is the three-day Transcontinental Death Race, a high-speed competition that is won by the driver who collects the most points by killing spectators and pedestrians. But this year the drivers have something to worry about other than getting killed by rival contestants: there is a group of anti-race activists trying to stop the race for good. The games all-time champion, Frankenstein (David Carradine), takes on such colorful characters as Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), Nero The Hero (Martin Kove) and Matilda The Hun (Roberta Collins) in this dark comedy-science fiction classic directed by Paul Bartel ( Eating Raoul).

 

 

The Film:

Readjusting the critical grading curve to favor the filmmakers' attention to "concept" is, let's face it, what a lot of us B-movie aficionados do to justify our enthusiasm for mostly indefensible potboilers. It's the "bad movies we love" defense, and only the most humorless of cineastes would refuse to play that particular card every now and again. As a director, Roger Corman has certainly contributed generously to the pool of potential BMs we love. But at the same time, I can't fathom the value of a critical mindset that would deny the effectiveness of Corman's blunt, B.T. Barnumesque hucksterism behind, for instance, X—The Man with X-Ray Eyes. As Stephen King noted in Danse Macabre, there's no excuse for missing out on that film's downright mythic examination of our primordial dread over the vulnerability of our eyes simply because it's also the type of movie that would give Don Rickles a supporting role and a dead-end subplot.

Corman didn't direct the drive-in hit Death Race 2000 (he served as producer, handing the helming duties over to Paul Bartel, an even more reckless kitchen sink director), but it bears his imprint of economic utilitarianism. Approximating the experience of playing Mad Libs and discovering that you've been inserting dirty nouns and verbs into George Orwell's 1984, Death Race is a maladroit but exuberantly gamey mix of social commentary and blue-collar goofiness. Taking place at the turn of the millennium, the essentially defunct United States of America has now become an autocracy, run from overseas by Mr. President (played with a great used car salesman zest by Sandy McCallum, who is incidentally my college roommate's grandfather).

Excerpt Eric Henderson at Slant Magazine located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Stated as coming from a "...(1.85:1) High-Definition Transfer From The Interpositive Film Element..." - it is still rendered at 1.78. But it looks pretty darn good all things considered. Colors are a shade washed-out and there is some notable noise but overall it is probably better than the film deserves. This Blu-ray does a decent job of representing this, frequently absurd, cult gem. It is very clean, detail - while not at modern film levels - can occasionally impress. I have no real demonstrative complaints - visually this is better than I was anticipating.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

No boost going on here - its a bland 2.0 channel Dolby track standard for old-style DVD rendering. Actually the flat audio suits the film experience quite adeptly. A fake bump may have pushed it right out of its mid-70's genre appeal. Lots of loud roaring engines and some obvious effect noises - boisterous enough through the front channels. There are no subtitles offered (tsk tsk...).

 

 

Extras :

I started to dip my foot into the extras and was soon in over my head. Some of this stuff is superfluous but other supplements are grand fodder for the fanbase. It is more than anyone would have expected for Death Race 2000 and we must give full marks for the effort put forth. Drink deep from the extras....

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This ends up being a pretty fun ride. Carradine is so solidly over-the-top yet restrained in these flics and is a big part in developing the niche appeal here. You just sit back and let the absurdities overtake you. It's all quite harmless and this does have a strange cheesy charisma. The Blu-ray image makes up for the flat audio and there are a boatload of supplements to entice your interest further. If you have any inkling into this primo cheese - I encourage this package. Shout! Factory have done a great job here. I'm still smiling... and I want to see it again! 

Gary Tooze

June 21st, 2010

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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