I’m sure everyone here remembers the classic cult film Death Race 2000 remarkably well. It was the heartwarming tale of a dystopian America and the massive, homicidal transcontinental race that took place every year to act as an opiate for the debased masses. Now, Roger Corman himself is doing a remake, and based on the trailer, it looks like it’ll be as bonkers as the original. Now let’s really check out the cars.
The a key part of the original Death Race was that the competition wasn’t just about racing, it was also about using cars to murder. People, animals, and yes, even babies were targets for points. Here, just watch the original trailer:
See what I mean? As they say, it’s a cross-country road wreck and the traffic is murder. It looks like the same setup is present in the new one, Death Race 2050, as you can see point values for humans right in the trailer:
(I should mention that there was also a 2008 remake, but it was a very serious, big-budget, and color-desaturated affair. This latest remake seems to retain that campy Corman cult-movie feel.)
Death Race has always been about satire and social commentary, and there’s plenty of that to be seen, right here on the big map of the United Corporations of America:
Guugleplex? Ama Zone? I imaging vast areas of warehouses and data centers. There’s also Caucasia (New Jerusalem seems to be the capital; I bet it’s a good place to get deals on Promise Rings), Onepercentia (good artisanal synthhams there), and the grim Call Center Territories.
This is not a bright future.
But, it is a future with cars, so that’s a plus. In the trailer, I think I’ve identified five competing racecars, and one other car we’ll get to in a bit.
The design of the cars is complicated, full of facets and lumps and vents and sharp tooth-and-tusk-like protrusions. Conventional aerodynamics don’t seem to apply. These are basically what Toyotas are going to look like in two years.
There’s a reason for this, of course. These cars are not just about speed and handling, like race cars as we understand them; these are also murder weapons. Since a big part of the Death Race is the ‘death’ part, the design of the cars has been developed to most effectively dispatch the living things that are unfortunate enough to encounter them.
I don’t know yet if the characters’ names will be retained from the original, so we’ll just call this one Car 1. I suspect it’s either the protagonist or the main villain’s car.
The front is well-dental’d with all kinds of nasty-looking edged and cutting tools there, like insect mandibles. The hood’s long enough for it to be front-engined, and it looks like there’s air intake in the ‘mouth.’ No visible lighting, like all of these. I guess it’s day-only, or they use night-vision tech?
This one, Car 2, is really strange. For starters, that windshield/roof assembly looks opaque, so there must be some kind of electronic vision system happening.
The look sort of reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright Mayan-inspired architecture, with its substantial bulk and ziggurat-like stepping. It doesn’t seem as deadly up front as Car 1, but I’m sure it’s no picnic to be hit by it.
Also, no visible air intakes I can see. Electric? Nuclear?
Car 3 here seems to have a pair of rear-mounted nacelles that suggest a jet-turbine-type drive system. It’s by far the most aircraft-inspired of the cars, with a sort-of resemblance to a Stealth fighter, with the flat faceted planes that make up the body.
It also has some pedestrian-mulching mandibles up front, and a big fork-like thing on the end of its long proboscis. Those guns on the roof seem to swivel, and I bet they’re an effective way to rack up some bloody points.
This one, Car 4, is by far the most aerodynamic-looking of the bunch. It’s comparatively sleek and clean, though it doesn’t really look too dangerous to people. I mean, getting hit would hurt, but it looks like you’d just roll up and over that hood as opposed to getting cole-slawed by the nose-mounted cutters of the other cars.
This one, Car 5, I kind of like. It has a sort of Art-Deco quality to it. It almost reminds me of a Max Maxxificated version of the famous Flying Wombat, the Phantom Corsair. Here, look:
See what I mean? This one also doesn’t seem quite as deadly as the others, but there’s likely hidden dangers.
Finally, we have the only recognizable car in the trailer, this Hummvee. If this movie takes place in 2050, the Hummer there would be pretty archaic; there’s already plans to replace them happening right now.
As far as what, exactly these other cars are built from, I just can’t say yet. There’s not enough good close shots to see. Knowing Roger Corman, I suspect they’re nothing expensive or fancy. I sort of think Car 5 may be built on an air-cooled Volkswagen chassis, which was a very popular way to make custom movie cars during Corman’s heyday.
I’m sure we’ll get better looks at these soon, and then we can begin the fun process of figuring out just what the hell they started life as.
This’ll be fun.