In his 1960s and ’70s heyday as the king of drive-in flicks and low-budget exploitation, Roger Corman was the single greatest patron of budding talent in the world. The list of filmmakers and actors who either got their start or their big break working for him goes on and on: Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, John Sayles, Charles Bronson, Robert Towne.
Alas, Corman has long since traded cheap thrills for pure cheapness. Given that most of his time is now occupied with Syfy monster movies like Piranhaconda, Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda, and Dinocroc Vs. Supergator, a sequel to 1975’s sleazy, tongue-in-cheek Death Race 2000 might sound like a partial return to form.
The original, directed by the under-appreciated Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul), had one of the ‘70s Corman’s trademark cocktails of talent: a cast led by David Carradine, Mary Woronov, and a pre-fame Sylvester Stallone, with cinematography by Tak Fujimoto—who had already shot Badlands by this point—and sound effects by the great Ben Burtt. (It was Burtt’s first film as sound designer; the next would be Star Wars.)
But, honestly, this looks like someone cut together the non-sex scenes from porn parodies of The Hunger Games and Mad Max and then threw together however much money it would take for the reliably “available” Malcolm McDowell to put on a showgirl collar and a charro suit in front of a green bedsheet.
Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 will be released directly to video on January 17, 2017.