FYI, this article contains spoilers. Actually, the title kind of gives away the ending. But oh well, this isn’t the kind of movie where ruining the ending matters much if you haven’t seen it. And you still need to know who Mr. President and Frankenstein are to understand it. So let’s get into it.
Interestingly enough, I thought this would be a movie with endless possibilities for bollards to interfere with the plot and ruin the competitors’ routes and point scoring opportunities.
BTW, this is a movie about a national sporting event in which drivers and their navigators race across the United States as fast as possible—while scoring as many points as they can by hitting and killing men, women, children, and babies. Yes, hitting and killing babies can rack up some serious points in Death Race 2000.
However—upon revisiting this Roger Corman cult classic—I realized that it wouldn’t make sense in a lot of situations for bollards to exist.
There is a lot of driving on highways in the middle of nowhere and a lot of driving through grass and dirt. Not necessarily ideal places or areas to secure with traffic bollards.
So this post will mostly be a review of the film’s ridiculousness with a bollard payoff at the end.
Let’s get a quick breakdown of the point scoring opportunities just for the hell of it.
Women are worth more than men at 10 points per kill.
Teenagers are worth 40 points per kill.
Toddlers under 12 years old are worth 70 points each.
And elderly people—anyone of any sex over 75 years old—are worth a whopping 100 points per kill.
And since this race takes place in the future, this is what the future year of 2000 looks like:
Basically, a painting. In 1975, that is what the future looked like.
Anyways—with that out of the way—let’s meet our main character, our hero— Frankenstein.
The marvelous David Carradine is Frankenstein. And at a key moment in the film, we learn that he is nobody—brought up in a government training center to be Frankenstein—the best driver on Earth, this year (the future year of 2000). But why?
We also learn early on that Frankenstein has survived multiple automobile accidents and basically his whole body has been replaced with other parts with limb transplants. Lost a leg in ’98, an arm in ’99. Half a face and half a chest.
Thanks for the info from the overly annoying race announcer—Junior. This guy really needs to die…
And at some point in his life after an accident in 1997, Frankenstein even lost his taste buds. LOL WUT. We learn this just before he slips his navigator a drink that knocks her out for awhile while he escapes an airplane that is chasing and dropping bombs at his car.
Okay, so our dear friend Frankenstein is somehow alive just like the Frankenstein we all know and love from the horror genre:
Except—wait—no. The doctor’s name was Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein. The monster pictured above actually had no name in the original Mary Shelley novel.
But then—over time—people just assumed the monster’s name is Frankenstein anyways, so I guess Death Race 2000 did no harm and did not commit any form of blasphemy by naming David Carradine’s pieced-together character Frankenstein.
And speaking of monsters, lets take a look at the biggest monster in the movie.
Death Race 2000 is one of Sylvester Stallone’s first films, and his introduction is brilliant. Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, ladies and gentleman:
To recap—as he pulls up to the race’s starting line—Machine Gun Joe sees a bunch of Frankenstein fans and exclaims, “Lousy sons of bitches!”
He then proceeds to open fire with a machine gun into the crowd, yet somehow manages to not hit or kill anyone with his offensive onslaught. Very believable, Roger Corman.
Anyways, throughout the film, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo verbally abuses and degrades his poor female navigator, Myra.
He even threatens physical violence by saying, “If I see you messing with Frankenstein again, I’m really gonna bust your eye”.
Then—all of a sudden—he lays down one of the most puzzling insults I’ve ever heard: “You know Myra, some people might think you’re cute. But me, I think you’re one very large baked potato.”
And Myra’s face after the insult is priceless.
Ok—so Machine Gun Joe Viterbo is a dick. I just wonder if he’ll come into play later in the movie. Let’s move on.
By now, you must be wondering where this whole article is headed. Where the hell are the bollards that ruin this thing? Keep calm, we’re getting there. Now lets quickly meet Mr. President.
Yes—in the year 2000—when the president of the United States appears on TV, he emerges from an ominous cloud of smoke. Gangsta.
Now, let’s jump towards the end of the film. In an exchange between Frankenstein and his navigator—Annie—we learn the reason why he must win the race. Why he was brought up in a government training center to be the best driver on Earth.
Apparently only one person gets to shake hands with the president. And who is this lucky person? The winner of the race, naturally. And the winner of this race will surely be Frankenstein, right? But what is the plan if Frankenstein gets to meet the president?
Well, he’s got a grenade to activate when shaking hands with Mr. President to kill him! And not just a grenade. A mother fucking hand grenade.
Literally, a grenade built into his hand. Thanks again, Roger Corman.
However, this hand shaking plan goes terribly wrong when our old friend Machine Gun Joe Viterbo gets in the way. He’s been constantly threatening Frankenstein throughout the film. And now is his chance to finally end Frankesntein and win the race.
An intense chase scene ensues between Frankenstein and Machine Gun Joe.
Then Annie—Frankenstein’s navigator—thinks quickly and takes the hand grenade off of Frankenstein’s arm…
And then she perfectly throws the hand grenade into Machine Gun Joe’s car—even though they are all probably traveling well over 100 MPH. Totally believable.
This is the result…
So Machine Gun Joe Viterbo and his navigator are dead, just like all the other racers and navigators that started the race. And now we’re down to just Frankenstein, Annie, and Mr. President.
Frankenstein vs. Mr. President
Now that we know Frankenstein’s intentions to kill Mr. President were originally with the hand grenade hand shake after winning the race, what the hell is he gonna do now that Annie used it to kill Machine Gun Joe?
Looks like he’s just gonna walk right up the president’s platform and stab him with a tiny knife.
But then—and I forgot to mention the resistance people who are related to Annie that tried multiple times to sabotage the race—the main lady comes out of the crowd and shoots Frankenstein…
Or is it Frankenstein? No! She shoots her own great granddaughter!
Ok, so where does this leave us? Where the hell is the real Frankenstein if Annie was a Frankenstein decoy?
He was hiding in the car the whole time! Annie was a decoy so Frankenstein can drive the car into the platform that the president was standing on to kill him.
So—if you think about the situation—the president of the United States is standing on a makeshift generic (possibly cardboard) platform in front of a big crowd. With a fucking road leading directly to the front of the platform.
Why wouldn’t anyone think to secure the president’s platform with bollards in case of a malicious vehicular attack? Especially at an event celebrating drivers that, ya know, drive into other human beings to kill them for points.
Here’s what the situation should have looked like.
Had there been bollards installed in front of the platform—therefore saving the president’s life—I’m not totally sure how this thing might have ended. Not sure how exactly those bollards would’ve changed the ending. I only have a couple of speculations.
Either Frankenstein would’ve thrown caution to the wind and just tried to barrel through those traffic posts with his car—only to fail miserably. Then awkwardly and embarrassingly rise from the wreckage and survey the damage he caused to his race winning vehicle—in front of thousands of fans.
Or maybe he could’ve asked people in the crowd if they happened to have an extra hand grenade to follow through with his original plan with the hand shake kill.
Either way, it wouldn’t have ended the way the movie actually ends. Well, how does it end?
Frankenstein kills Mr. President by crashing into the cardboard platform.
Then—when a president dies—we all know that the winner of a cross country death race automatically takes over as the leader of the free world immediately after murdering the former president. Common knowledge.
However, what ever happened to that annoying guy? Junior. What is Junior up to?
Well, Frankenstein and his crew decide to abolish the race. And Junior gets really upset about this news. So, he proceeds to complain to Frankenstein about the decision. And then stands in front of Frankenstein’s new car. What can possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, this…
So I got my wish. Junior dies. And Frankenstein and his wife/navigator Annie drive into the sunset and live happily ever after. This classic cult movie has finally come to an end. Surely, no one would ever try to capitalize on its reputation.
Oh wait, they did. In 2008, there was a remake simply titled Death Race. Starring Jason Statham. Just uttering those few words suggests pure badassery. Jason Statham starring in a movie called Death Race. Fuck yeah!
However, I can’t vouch for this disaster of a remake. If you’ve seen it and like it, that’s cool. I personally only made it through the first 15 minutes or so before sprinting to the bathroom and vomiting so quickly I didn’t even make it to the toilet. And I’m pretty sure it was because of the movie and not because of anything I ate that day.
And for some reason, there are three of them now.
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