In the days of 1975, a lot of shit was goin' down. I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but there was. Oh! Wait, that OPEC thing . . . no, that was early 80's. Whatever, stuff happened.
Despite all this, Roger Corman came out with his tour-de-force, titled Death Race 2000.
The tagline for the flick captures the brilliance perfectly: In the year 2000 hit and run driving is no longer a felony. It's the national sport!
The plot is heralded as the most brilliant thing ever known to humans. The aforementioned national sport is a race across the country; five racers drive their specialized cars from New York to Los Angeles in the race of the year. But there's a twist: driving over a person gets a person points (yes, that's where that joke comes from) and the points are put into some sort of complicated matrix with the time trials to figure out who gets first. So whomever comes into L.A. first doesn't necessarily win, if he or she doesn't get enough points.
The race is filled with five racers, all of whom have their fan base and all of whom are the most stereotypical characters out there. Matilda the Hun is a Nazi, Calamity Jane is a cowgirl, Frankenstein is . . . a Frankenstein, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (played by a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone) is a Brooklyn gangster, and Nero the Hero is some sort of Roman. Better yet, the cars match their personas in distinctive ways.
This piece of fine cinema is brilliant for so many reasons:
1. Hilarious foley noises are added when a person is killed. 2. The movie takes place 25 years in the future (made in the year 1975, takes place in the year 2000), but everything still has that early 1900's "futurism" look. 3. David Carradine (Frankenstein) is at his finest. 4. Sylvester Stallone is just as good (better than his performance in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over) 5. The government people are funny. 6. The ending of this art is the greatest ending to any movie ever.
If you ever hear anyone talking about Roger Corman and not mentioning Death Race 2000, tell that person to shut up and learn what real genius is.
Bottom line: This is B-movie at its finest.