Film and Plot Synopsis
It’s the year 2000, and the United States of America finds itself under a repressive dictatorship. The government has created a brutal Transcontinental Road Race as a distraction from their pitiful lives. The object of the race is to get from New York to New Los Angeles first, and along the way, score the most points. Racers obtain those points by killing innocent people. Frankenstein is the national hero for the race, and the other drivers such as Calamity Jane, Matilda the Hun, Nero the Hero, and Machine Gun Joe are looking to take the man out. However, there’s a resistance brewing, and it could spell trouble for all parties involved.
‘Death Race 2000’ Movie Summary
Looking to pacify the American population from their dystopian reality, the government creates an annual transcontinental road race reminiscent of bloody gladiatorial games. In this competition, contestants race their souped-up cars from New York to New Los Angeles quickly as possible. Along the way, drivers can earn bonus points for striking and killing various innocent people in the country with points designated by age, sex, and occupation.
The year is now 2000, and five drivers compete in the 20th annual race. Each contestant’s car has its own themed based on their persona, and their adoring fans dress up in similar fashion. The contestants are: Chicago gangster, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone); the sultry cowgirl, Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov); a neo-Nazi named Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins); a Roman gladiator called Nero the Hero (Martin Kove), and the man they are all after; the mysterious black-caped champion and national hero, Frankenstein (David Carradine).
Each contestant has their own navigator along for the ride as well, and Frankenstein’s is a beautiful blonde named Annie Smith (Simone Griffeth). However, what neither Frankenstein nor Mr. President knows is that Thomasina Paine (Harriet Medin), a descendant of Thomas Paine, leads a group of men and women known as the Resistance. It’s their combined mission to assassinate Frankenstein, and then replace him with one of their agents. Annie is Paine’s great granddaughter, and it’s her job to lure Frankenstein into their ambush to replace him.
As the race progresses, the Resistance tries to kill as many contestants as they can. However, the government blames the French for the attacks as well as for ruining the country’s economy and telephone system. They even lie to the American people as the Resistance pirates a signal to the nation to take credit for the attacks.
Soon, the Resistance manages to blow up Nero the Hero using a bomb disguised as a baby. They trick Matilda the Hun to drive off a cliff to her death—Wile E. Coyote style—using a detour sign and fake tunnel. Calamity Jane sees Matilda’s fiery death before some Resistance motorcyclists attack her. She inadvertently drives over a land mine after disposing her attackers. Now, we are down to two racers; Frankenstein and Machine Gun Joe.
We learn that Frankenstein is part of a government lie to make it seem as if he’s indestructible. In reality, there isn’t just one Frankenstein. They have one in the main role until he’s used up, and then they replace him with one of the many in line specifically trained to be him. They use Frankenstein’s mask and “disfigured face” as a ruse to disguise the men aren’t the same.
However, this particular Frankenstein has a plan of his own to put an end to Mr. President and his reign. He’s going to win the race so he may shake hands with the leader. When he does, a small grenade implanted in his prosthetic right hand will detonate; killing both men.
Unfortunately, when Machine Gun Joe attacks Frankenstein’s car, Annie must use this explosive hand grenade to blow up Machine Gun Joe. With only Frankenstein left, he wins the race. However, one last Resistance attack along the way left him seriously wounded.
Without his grenade, Annie puts on the Frankenstein outfit, and plans to stab Mr. President instead. Right before she’s able to, good ole Thomasina pops out of the crowd. She shoots Frankenstein (Annie) as she believes he killed Annie earlier in the film. In the ensuing chaos, the real Frankenstein puts the pedal to the metal, and rams Mr. President’s stage. Mr. President falls to the ground and on top of Frankenstein’s car for a swift death.
In an epilogue, Annie and Frankenstein marry as Frankenstein becomes the new President. He appoints Thomasina as the Minister of Security so she may rebuild the state, dissolves the dictatorship, and abolishes the race…but he treats us to one more satisfying death. He runs over and kills the obnoxious reporter Junior Bruce (Don Steele) for objecting to the race’s cancellation.
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