Death Race 2050 review

Low-budget B-movie schlockmeister Roger Corman is back with a remake of his classic Death Race 2000, which caused much controversy and gnashing of teeth back in 1975. The outrageous political satire, which starred Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine, was one of the prolific producer’s biggest hits, and it went on to become a much-loved cult classic.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic America in which the masses are kept entertained with a coast-to-coast cross-country car race in which the drivers gain extra points for running down and killing pedestrians. It's violent, silly social and political commentary with its tongue firmly in its cheek, and was remade in 2008 as Death race, starring Jason Statham and with much of the politics, satire and humour jetisoned ikn favour of stunts and action.

Now Corman, as producer, returns to the well for this remake/update/revamp/whatever, and it's just as much fun as the original. In 2050, the US has become the United Corporations of America, and is run by the evil Trump-like Chairman (Malcolm McDowell). Peoples' favourite and reigning Death Race champion Frankenstein –  David Carradine in the original – is played by here Manu Bennet (who you may remember as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke in Arrow, and Crixus in Spartacus) and his lovely copilot Annie (Marci Miller) may have an agenda of her own. He's competing against the likes of Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead), Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) and Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey), who are all hell-bent on taking him out.

Death Race 2050 is very much a modern-day B movie, made directly for the home video market on a tiny budget, and director/co-writer GJ Echternkamp knows exactly what he’s doing. The film is Corman through-and-through, with cheesy humour and shoddy green-screen effects. The blood and gore (of which there is plenty) is all courtesy of a computer, which adds to the over-the-top craziness of thew whole affair. It’s not what you would class a “good” movie – it’s slipsohod and very rough around the edges, with broad, cartoonish gags – but it’s unpretentious, cheeky, energetic, trashy and overflowing with gleeful fun. It's cheap and silly, but fans of the original will love it.

Buy now at Amazon UK

EXTRAS: The featurettes The Making of Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 (10:16), The Look of 2050 (6:29), Cast Car Tours (8:30), and Cars! Cars! Cars! (4:33); plus 10 deleted scenes (5:35).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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