Back in 1975, producer Roger Corman wanted to do his take on the futuristic action sports genre of the time, with Rollerball also being released the same year. So, he put together some fast cars, political criticism and satire, while getting then young movie stars David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone to go on this crazy adventure cross country.
History tends to repeat itself, as Death Race got its own reboot and direct-to-video sequels that portray a more grim reality that intended. Regardless, Corman was still producer of those films.
Earlier this month, #DeathRace2050 was released on home video, going back to its roots. Even as Corman got the idea and motivation to make the sequel due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, the sheer fact that the movie was still watched by thousands of people means that there's an audience willing to indulge a little in futuristic shenanigans. Here are three reasons why we need a Death Race every 10 years:
3. Politics Never Get Old
Every Death Race film has portrayed an America that became unhinged and gave into corporation interests, to the point that cities have been renamed as brands. Considering that the current President of The United States is a businessman that comes from a big brand and is less of a politician per se, there's an uncanny parallel to be drawn.
Even as Death Race 2050 had the honor of Malcolm McDowell portraying a Donald Trump wannabe lookalike, this only means that things in the real world might be going even further downhill. All we're left with are the laughs of an alternate universe to distract us every once and a while, just to reassure us we'll be OK.
Just like how South Park makes satire out of current world events, these movies should be a reflection on how mad this world has gone.
2. This Is 'Wacky Races' In Live-Action
Who doesn't remember the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races, where 11 cars race throughout a crazy but entertaining world, with each driver and copilot hoping to win the title of "World's Wackiest Racer." In comparison, the Death Race movies are uber violent and gory, intended for adult audiences, but the similarities are enough to keep us excited, rooting for the diverse selection of drivers.
While the movies to tend to put emphasis on Frankenstein, considered the world's best driver, it's the secondary characters who make the movies more relatable, if there could be such sentiment.
1. We Love The Glimpses Of The Future
Audiences that saw Death Race 2000 when it was released probably thought how weird the future looked, be it with the round cars, the eclectic fashion choices or simply how corporations would take over an entire country, all because of capitalism.
The same way when we witnessed how Back To The Future: Part II portrayed the future of 2015 in 1989, the year 2000 was plagued by the computer revolution of Y2K.
Skip to 2008, when the reboot decided to give a glimpse of a more immediate future: 2012. Probably plagued by the idea of the Mayan calendar ending that year, things had to turn grim, fast.
Finally, Death Race 2050 will probably leave us laughing in 33 years when we realize reality is more computerized and holographic, where humans and androids live in harmony. Or, maybe that's just some random dream and we're bound to this destiny.
Either way, it's a fun exercise for audiences to imagine what the future might look like through this apocalyptic world of Death Race event. I bet that the cars featured in Death Race 2100 will be inspired by the designs the races from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Maybe.
What do you think of the Death Race movies? Let me know in the comments!