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DEATH RACE 2000 - 4 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1978 New World Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 2 August 2008 (updated)

The Characters:  

  • Frankenstein - David Carradine! Fans believe him to be a myriad of replaced limbs, but that is due to his love for leather. Everything he wears is leather. Everything. Yes, even that. That too. What don't you understand about "everything?"
  • Annie - Frankenstein's navigator and a member of the resistance. Check out her huge ring; I think it's a snow globe her grandmother gave her as gift.
  • Calamity Jane - Crazed female cattle driver whose car looks like a steer. She runs over a land mine. Ever see a steer hit a land mine? It ain't pretty.
  • Matilda the Hun - An Aryan poster girl. She drives off of a cliff and finds out that she is not really a valkyrie after all.
  • Nero the Hero - The Roman road sensation is almost as dumb as he is vain. He runs over a booby-trapped baby, resulting in his immediate elimination.
  • Junior Bruce - What was on the other end of his scarf?
  • Grace Pander - She is the kind of person who is always your "dear friend." Well, at least if you are rich and/or famous. If you're poor, she probably would not talk to you.
  • Thomasina Paine - Leader of the resistance. If she is not supposed to be Betsy Ross' great great great granddaughter (or something of the sort), I will eat a copy of the Declaration of Independence, with mustard.
  • Machine Gun Joe Viterbo - Sylvester Stallone! He subscribes to a classic gangster motif, and stresses a lot. If it was not for a hand grenade, Machine Gun Joe's death certificate would have said "Ulcer" for the cause of death.
  • Myra - Joe's amazingly blonde navigator. The geometry of her mouth scares me. Is she part piranha, part bulldog, or are some women really born with jaws shaped liked that? Thankfully, she joins Joe in the big speakeasy in the sky, because her mouth was about to give me nightmares.
  • The President - Run down by Frankenstein. America did not need him.

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The Plot: 

In the year 2000, America is ruled by an emperor masquerading as the President. With his power, and to preserve that power, he created the Race. Every year, violent role-playing psychopaths are placed behind the wheels of high performance killing machines and sent across the country. Their goal is to run down as many pedestrians as possible, earning points for every person who becomes a screaming pile of road hash. Points for kills are determined by the victim's age and sex (women are worth ten extra points). The nation gleefully subscribes to this gory event, even embraces it.

What troubles me the most is that babies are worth seventy points. With the exception of the elderly, who are a hundred points a Pop (Nanna is worth a hundred and ten), babies are the biggest payoff. I can understand society writing off the old folks as useless baggage, because we do that all-too-often anyway, but a child? Surely, even at our worst, humanity could not cheer at the sight of an infant being run over by a car. Well, except for Damien, but it is not as if a few more hugs from mom and dad (not his real dad; I mean the chump raising Damien as his own) are going to rescue the child of Satan from his dark path. If somebody runs over a child and I see them, they had better be squishing Damien, and I mean verifiable as Damien. The car's tires had better burst into flames and howls of infernal rage need to issue forth from cracks in the ground when it happens.

The Race's opening ceremony is a grand event with lots of theatrics. Machine Gun Joe even pulls out a tommy gun to menace the hundreds of Frankenstein fans who boo the gangster's arrival at the starting line. He opens fire at the Frankenstein fanatics, but the submachine gun is filled with blanks. I guess that splitting the heads of innocents under your steel belted radials is fine, but people still hate guns for no reason other than they are guns.

Somewhere, the last paying member of the NRA is nodding in mute agreement.

Frankenstein is a legend of the Transcontinental Road Race; he is a misshapen monster, remnants of his body are scattered across miles of the nation's highways. In their place, Frankenstein is a patchwork of scar tissue, artificial parts, and an indomitable will to survive and drive, and kill anyone who foolishly tries to cross the road.

Intriguingly, all of the racer's automobiles are equipped with various spikes and blades - pretty much anything the average person would hate to see on a car that was about to run into them. The vehicles are also made for speed. Remember: scoring points is based on running into things, specifically people. Durability and a functional off-road suspension seem like they would be more desirable characteristics. If some maniac tries to run me over with a car, I am sure as heck going to get off the road (and climb a tree). All of the racers should be driving Subarus!

I should also mention, if there is a big cross-country race going on that involves the drivers running over people, you would be stupid to not keep an eye on the news for updates about the racers' current locations.

Viterbo is the first to kill when he manages to surprise a road construction worker using a jackhammer (Darwin did not even consider jackhammers when he theorized natural selection). True to form as a mysterious monster, Frankenstein passes up the opportunity to score several hundred points by running over a bunch of old people left in the middle of the street. Instead, the black-clad racer veers off and plows through the doctors and nurses who offered the seniors as sacrifices to the lord of wheeled death. Meanwhile, Calamity Jane skewers a poor sap who thought that he was a matador. Nero has much worse luck than the other racers. He goes after some picnickers that are really members of the resistance; they trick him into running over a doll filled with explosives. "We're going to need another Nero."

As if the world needs another Nero.

After each hard day of driving, and running over people too stupid to stay on their roof while a "squash the pedestrians" contest is going on, the racers enjoy massages, delicious meals, and a little impolite banter among themselves. They then retire to richly-appointed rooms for some stress-relieving hump-hump (every racer is paired with a navigator of the opposite sex). Even though Annie is sworn to help the resistance stop the race, most likely by killing or capturing Frankenstein, she begins to fall in love with the quirky racer. Weren't the 70's great? You could dress however you wanted, run over innocent people with your car, and attractive women still wanted to go to bed with you.

Hold on, that was the 80's.

There are a couple of scenes that provide the audience insight into just how screwed up the United States is in 2000. Like Grace interviewing the widow of Joe Viterbo's victim and telling the grieving woman about all the prizes she will receive for being so lucky. A great part of the film is the young woman who offers her body to Frankenstein, and I do not mean for sex. First the maiden seeks out the leather-wearing racer and tells him that she loves him. Next time we see her, she is dressed in a white outfit and standing, arms outstretched, in the middle of the road as Frankenstein's death mobile roars toward her. Love does not usually make a *SPLAT* sound; this time it does.

Frankenstein's lovely roadkill was a member of his fan club. Most clubs just encourage kids to eat a lot cereal and save the proof of purchase seals. Then the child mails the dozens of cardboard tokens to the official mailing address. In return, the kid receives a plastic decoder ring, which eventually gets stepped on and crushed by a parent who berates their son for leaving painful plastic caltrops all over the living room floor (along with inwardly promising themselves to stop buying Cowboy Crunchies).

When I was a kid, we did not have Cowboy Crunchies. Mom would buy me Count Chocula cereal; it is little more than sugar and marshmallows. Then she wondered why I was always so darn hyper.

A great aspect of "Death Race 2000" is Sylvester Stallone's character. Machine Gun Joe is constantly stressed to the max. He rants, he raves, he calls his navigator a "dumb potato," but mostly he just acts stressed out about beating Frankenstein (he has an inferiority complex). It's really fun to watch, and gets even better after Joe loses a fight to Frankenstein one evening. The pit crew chuckles about Viterbo's face; he retaliates by running over the men! Sure, he earned forty points for the kills, but killing your pit crew has got to be a perfect example of "diminishing returns."

Not that life is easy for the other racers, because the resistance continues to ambush and kill them whenever possible. Matilda falls for the old "fake tunnel entrance that leads off a cliff" gag, while Calamity Jane tries to execute an eight point turn in the middle of a minefield. Frankenstein perseveres through it all; Annie does her best to lead the freakish national hero into a couple of traps, but there just is no way you can keep a good man down. Frank smashes, trashes, and crashes through every obstacle the resistance throws his way. He even defeats an aircraft. When is the last time you saw somebody do that with a car? I mean besides Bruce Willis; every time he encountered a superior foe in "Live Free or Die Hard" he hit them with a car.

Eventually, because he has to, Frankenstein tells Annie that his whole reason for wanting to win the race is so he can shake the President's hand. The leather racer of Phobos' hand is artificial, and it has a grenade embedded in the palm! Frankenstein hates the President and his race more than anyone else; if he gets his way, the whole rotten mess will go out with a bang (believe it or not, Carradine makes the "hand grenade" joke; I didn't have to). Can he do it, or is Joe Viterbo's super bile-induced rage too much for even the mighty Frankenstein to overcome?

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Switzerland manufactures a remarkably punctual brand of anesthetic.
  • China will eventually become the 51st state.
  • Every generation has one person who talks like Howard Cosell.
  • Do not try to play matador with a car.
  • Blondes are not dumb; they are hard of hearing.
  • If you love someone set them free; if they come back, turn them into roadkill.
  • Sammy could not drive 55 because the female members of his fan club kept jumping out in front of his car.
  • David Carradine can kick Sylvester Stallone's butt.
  • Oddly enough, australopithecines also had to deal with road rage.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 1 min - This title sequence cost, what, twenty dollars?
  • 7 mins - Yo, Adrian! I can't get no traction in all this blood, ya know? It's like slippery and stuff.
  • 8 mins - Don't get mad at me about the "Rocky" joke. You knew that was coming; your friends knew that was coming; heck, the door knew that was coming.
  • 26 mins - How about sitting up a little?
  • 27 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT! Thank you!
  • 30 mins - "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant..."
  • 45 mins - "Make fast my little buzz bomb?"
  • 55 mins - Why is there one roll-away in this garage? Every mechanic I know owns at least two roll-aways (and both are larger than that). Does half a mechanic work here?


  • Annie: "Don't you ever take off that mask?"
    Frankenstein: "No. Don't you know about my face?"
    Annie: "I've heard stories. Nobody's ever seen it, have they?"
    Frankenstein: "Except my other navigators."
    Annie: "And they're all dead..."
  • Grace: "Frankenstein, tell me how it feels when, at that electric instant driving at two-hundred miles an hour, life and death coexist at the moment of scoring?"
    Frankenstein: "You stand in the middle of Route 66 tomorrow morning at eight o'clock, and you can answer that question for yourself."
  • Girl: "I wanted you to know who I am. So it would have meaning."
    Frankenstein: "I don't understand. So what would have meaning?"
    Girl: "We love you, Mr. Frankenstein. I know just saying it doesn't mean much."
    Frankenstein: "Why do you love me, because I kill people?"
    Girl: "Scoring isn't killing, Mr. Frankenstein, it's part of the race."
  • Joe: "You know, Myra, some people might think you're cute, but me, I think you're one very large baked potato."
  • Junior Bruce: "Well, America, there you have it. Frankenstein has just been attacked by the French air force, and he's whipped their derrieres!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note deathrace2k1.wav Junior: "Frankenstein, who lost a leg in 98, an arm in 99 - with half a face and half a chest, and all the guts in the world, he's back! God only knows what he looks like under that mask, but he is back."
Green Music Note deathrace2k2.wav Junior: "Once again: Mr. President."
The President: "I have made the United Provinces of America the greatest power in the known universe."
Green Music Note deathrace2k3.wav Harold: "Which only goes to show that even the fearsome Frankenstein has a one hundred percent red-blooded American sense of humor."
Green Music Note deathrace2k4.wav Grace: "She was a great, dear friend of mine, and I shall remember her forever howling down that freeway in the sky, knocking over...the angels."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipdeathrace2k1.mpg - 3.0m
Euthanasia Day at the geriatric clinic does not go according to plan. Nurses on trampolines! That's what the world needs more of, nurses on trampolines.

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