Did any else know that there was an Asylum rip-off of the Statham reboot of Corman’s Death Race 2000 and that said rip-off featured the Insane Clown Posse? I sure didn’t, but if I have to be burdened with this knowledge, so do you.
Over gritty and filtered stock footage, we get voice over that it’s 2033. The president declared martial law and criminals have all been exiled to a burnt out, slightly urban area in the middle of nowhere called the red zone, ala “Escape from New York”.
It just so happens that inside the prison city, terrorists are making saran gas. Word leaks (there’s a kid in the red zone filming everything with an old camcorder somehow hooked up to wifi) and the governor has to find a solution. His solution is a death race inside the red zone, complete with a Secret mission – to kill the terrorist. He breaks it down to the racers – you get points for killing inmates, but you get the most points for killing the terrorist… Maybe even enough to win your freedom.
And also ICP is there.
The cars are largely uninspired, guns added to a sports car, a missiles added to a jeep, spikes on an average cars tires. ICP are really the only ones with a monster machine, an ice cream truck with a snowplow front, meatgrinder, guns and missiles. The cinematographer tries to make up for the cars lack of visual excitement by giving us tight frames of the more interesting areas; cockpits next to guns and details that are very visually interesting.
As the race begins, the other prisoners chase after the cars, attacking. Some get shot down, others get run over… But it’s usually a cut away with blood thrown onto the car from off screen. The budget doesn’t seem to have allowed for much in the way of stunt people and these cars are almost certainly all rented. Still, they manage some fairly ridiculous gore. Indeed, the gore level in this movie more horror film chunky as opposed to mere action movie blood. I assume that’s ICP’s influence.
The Asylum attempts to mimic the media blitz aspect of the Statham films, with their own news commentators constantly giving updates on the race it’s self. It’s not quite as slick with all the computer graphics and statistics of a big budget production. Instead of extreme sorts commentators, they come off looking more like your local evening news. As our racers fight their way through the red zone, these newscasters pop in periodically to explain a little bit of what’s going on – kind of a necessity considering the plot is a little bit more convoluted than strictly necessary (I’d have expected a little something more straightforward from this movie).
Interestingly enough, this is actually an ensemble piece. ICP gets a little more screen time than the others, much the way Captain Picard got a little more screen time then other characters when Star Trek was on TV, but there is actually something for everybody to do here. It’s a wise idea, because the clowns aren’t actors, and it shows. Then again, a lot of the people surrounding them aren’t much better, but instead of watching them struggle to carry a movie by themselves, all the actors together contribute to a pool of mediocrity. It’s a whole swirling bucket of suck where no one person stands out too much. If anything, the only reason ICP stands out at all is because they don’t quite belong in this world. The film leans far more heavily in the direction of being a Death Race movie rather than being a long ICP video and as a result, they kind of feel out of place. I realize they’re here for the star power, but it’s a strange match up. Their music is all over this film as well, and quite frankly it might of been better served with A heavier rock score.
All that said, it’s not as terrible as it sounds. Much to my surprise, it passes the watch test easily and is just loony enough to be fun instead of cringed worthy. Indeed, it’s still a better entry then Corman’s Death Race 2050 released around 2016, and is even superior to Death Race 3. If you’re a stickler for continuity like I am, I can actually fit this in, right before 2018’s Death Race : Beyond Anarchy, showing how the race got started up again and showcasing the increased governmental obsession with the “morality” of the prisons and the race. Death Racers is worth a look as a curiosity if nothing else.
For those keeping score BTW, the proper order for the Death Race films then is;
1. Death Race 2
2. Death Race 3
3. Death Race
4. Death Racers
5. Death Race : Beyond Anarchy
6. Death Race 2000
7. Death Race 2050