My Geeky Trivia
By Geeky Gem
When I was younger I had yet to really set out on my path to loving movies. However my Dad used to go on and on about a movie, especially when he was driving somewhere, and he would work out how many points he would get if he knocked down little old ladies crossing the road. Now I want to point out he’s never knocked anybody down! It wasn’t until many years later that I got my hands on this movie on DVD to see what the hell he was talking about. If you haven’t worked it out this movie is Death Race 2000.
The film retains only the basic premises of the original short story by Ib Melchior; the characters and incidents are all different. The story focuses on just one mechanic and driver, and one anti-racer. In particular, it does not include the President or the special driver Frankenstein.
The car in which President Frankenstein and Annie drive away in after their wedding is a Richard Oaks Nova kit-car, actually based on the Volkswagen Beetle chassis (but obviously not the body). These were available in kit form for many years starting in the mid-1970s.
Several of the cars in the movie are re-bodied Volkswagens, including a VW Karmann-Ghia (Matilda’s Buzz Bomb). The white Resistance Army car that chases Frankenstein very briefly before crashing and blowing up is a 1965 or 1966 Ford Mustang. Nero’s car was based on a Fiat 850 Spider, and Frankenstein’s on a Chevrolet Corvette.
Roger Corman wrote the original treatment of the film, which was serious in tone, but thought it was not right and, in his words, was “kind of vile”. He decided the dark material of the story would be better served by making the movie into a comedy and had Robert Thom rewrite the treatment.
Both Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine did much of their own driving. In addition, producer Roger Corman drove in scenes that were shot on public streets, since the custom-built cars used in the movie were not street legal and the film’s stunt drivers did not want to be caught driving them by the police.
Mary Woronov, who plays Calamity Jane, did not know how to drive a car, so a stunt driver did all the actual driving for her in the movie. For close-ups, Woronov sat in a car towed behind a truck with a camera crew riding in it.
Another week of geeky trivia has come and gone, I would like to say thanks to my Dad for going on about this movie so much when I was kid, it’s thanks to him that as an adult I loved it.