The "Real" Don Steele as the lead media commentator in New World Picture's DEATH RACE 2000
“The race is the symbol of everything we hold dear; our American way of life. Sure it’s violent, but that’s the way we love it – Violent! Violent! Violent!”
Released this week as part of a trio of titles in Buena Vista Home Video's brand new line of Roger Corman "Early Films" (which is a bit misleading – are we talking about Corman’s early films as Producer, or the early films of the various actors and directors later to make it big in Hollywood?); Death Race 2000
is finally given a luminous widescreen transfer that’s thankfully better than the New Horizons edition that came out during the technology’s infancy in 1998. With packaging not unlike that earlier release, complete with Corman’s introductory blurb on the back, it splashily displays a new collage of clipart for a cover that emphasizes supporting player Sylvester Stallone’s role as “Machine Gun” Joe Viterbo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain that release’s interview with Corman conducted by Leonard Maltin, although there’s a brand new retrospective documentary featuring Corman, Mary Woronov (“Calamity Jane”), Joe Dante (who had nothing to do with the production, save for maybe editing the trailer), and scriptwriter/Second Unit Director Charles B. Griffith.
There’s a commentary track between Mary Woronov and Corman, which happens to be more enjoyable than the latter’s solo tracks for his Poe pictures because Woronov is there to jog his sometimes faulty memory. He also had a tendency to go in depth on incidents already covered in his autobiography, “How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime” (1990), on those previous DVD discussions. Corman lets out a few pieces of heretofore trivia during his talk with Woronov, the best of which is his admittance that he did some automobile stunts that the hired stunt men just would not do, either because of safety or legal reasons; it’s easy to see this maverick producer jumping behind the wheel of one of the ludicrously decorated sports cars just to quickly finish a shot before the end of the day.
It’s also gratifying to see the DVD release being dedicated to the late, great Paul Bartel (1938-2000), who no doubt contributed his own witticisms and thoughts on society’s lust for violence somewhere in the production pipeline.
Labels: Charles B. Griffith, Death Race 2000, Paul Bartel, Roger Corman