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Death Race 3: Inferno (Blu-ray / DVD)

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Death Race 3 on Blu-ray and DVDStarring Luke Goss, Danny Trejo, Dougray Scott, Tanit Phoenix, Fred Koehler, Ving Rhames, Robin Shou

Directed by Roel Reiné

Distributed by Universal Home Entertainment


Danny Trejo spouts off a line early into Death Race 3: Inferno that pretty much sums it all up: “Fuck logic!”

If you’re at all interested in watching yet another unlikely sequel/prequel to Paul W.S. Anderson’s Death Race, then you’re not at all interested in logic, and you’re not going to offended by its mindlessness so long as you get to see plenty of carnage of both the vehicular and human kind. All this is about, all it strives to deliver, all it exists for is dudes and babes driving Mad Max-ian vehicles through a desert, smashing, crashing, and blowing each other to kingdom come while the evil Death Race owner has hate sex with a sexy television executive when not yelling maniacally at whoever is pissing him off at the moment. That’s all it promises, and that’s all it delivers. This movie is an hour and forty-plus minutes, and I can assure you that is not because it is heavy on plot and character development.

Having not been a fan of Death Race, I did not bother with the previous Death Race sequel/prequel. Uncle Creepy insisted I watch and review this third one. Skipping part two mattered little since this one opens with a recap, and between what I saw in that recap and what I would go on to see in this one, I reckon the only thing I missed in the previous film was a minor variation of the exact same premise of every Death Race: The inmate behind the Frankenstein mask is one victory away from gaining his freedom, but the person in charge goes to go to great lengths to ensure that doesn’t happen for reasons that almost always boil down to not wanting to lose the top star of the most financially lucrative sport of the future.

You don’t really need to have seen the previous Death Race films or even the original 1970’s Death Race 2000 that spawned them. Hell, you don’t even have to have ever seen any movie in your life. If you’ve ever played a combat racing video game like Twisted Metal or ever as a kid taken a bunch of Hot Wheels cars and staged your own demolition derby, then you’re already ahead of the curve when it comes to this film. Every facet of this sequel is designed liked a video game brought to life, right down to the voiceover guy introducing the various nicknamed racers whose voice you’ve no doubt heard in many video games of this very nature doing this exact same shtick. The mentality with which the movie plays out isn’t that much different than a kid in a sandbox with Tonka trucks and G.I. Joe figures making explosion sounds.

Though, funnily enough, Inferno dares culminate with a Saw ending. You know how every Saw flick wrapped up with a montage explaining how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together? This mindless movie that could best be summed up with the words “vroom” and “boom” suddenly wants to impress the audience with how intricately plotted its double-crosses, red herrings, and bait and switches were, to such an extent that this reveal laughably runs on for several minutes.

The flimsy plot is as previously described. Performances can best be described as varying degrees of under or overacting. Character development rarely goes beyond establishing their race, ethnicity, or nickname. One guy is nicknamed “Psycho,” and sure enough he’s a psycho. Another driver is hyped as the first-ever female Death Racer, and yes, she is in fact a female.

The young woman (Tanit Phoenix) serving as Frankenstein’s navigator doesn’t know that the guy behind the mask (Luke Goss = Jason Statham minus an ounce of charisma) is her lover who faked his death in the previous pre/sequel upon donning the persona. When his identity is revealed to her early on, she is so pissed she doesn’t want anything to do with him outside of being required to serve as his co-pilot. That is, until the new owner of Death Race (Dougray Scott, perpetually sneering and yelling) gifts him with a whore. Suddenly she’s in tears at the thought of him having sex with another woman. Then he apologizes and she forgives him. This is what constitutes a character arc in a Death Race sequel.

Ving Rhames gets his name above the title and his face on the artwork despite only making what amounts to a brief cameo at the beginning and end. The man is all smiles, no doubt because he knows how easy this paycheck gig is.

Roel Reiné is making a name for himself as the king of direct-to-video action sequels. He also helmed Death Race 2, The Marine 2, The Scorpion King 3, and the upcoming 12 Rounds: Reloaded. I much prefer his more practical Craig R. Baxley approach to action directing than Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Fuck with me and we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk” poseur cool ADD stylizations. I must confess to having enjoyed this film more than Anderson’s.

Alas, the mark of Anderson still stains this franchise with illogical holdovers from his film.

Once again, we’re told that for an extra fee viewers can purchase access to exclusive cockpit cameras inside the vehicles. Part of Frankenstein’s appeal is the mystery of who is behind the mask, and we are constantly reminded that Frankenstein can be replaced by anyone. Goss, as was also the case with Statham, never drives with the Frankenstein mask on so anyone paying extra for his dash-cam would see his face. They’d probably also hear him saying things like, “Here’s my secret plan to kill the guy in charge of the Death Race.” Perhaps one day they’ll make a Death Race sequel where the bad guy is smart enough to listen in on the mic in the vehicle being driven by the guy he’s plotting against.

The most senseless aspect of all these Death Race flicks is the addition of hot women in skimpy outfits supposedly serving as navigators for the drivers. They rarely served any helpful purpose in the original and even less so this go-around. These women mainly just yell insults at the drivers they’re paired with or, in the case of Frankenstein’s navigatress, just sits there twiddling her thumbs while Danny Trejo radios him from the sidelines with every last bit of navigational detail he needs.

Not that this aspect really matters anyway seeing as how yet again the audience is never really given any indication about the layout of the course or how long the length of each leg of the three-day race is.

Also, could somebody get a wet vac over to Frankenstein’s holding cell? When you see the movie, you’ll understand what I’m alluding to.

Inferno’s highlight doesn’t even involve death racing. Before the race begins, the film takes a detour into Gorgeous Ladies of Thunderdome territory. A special pre-race event is staged in which 20 scantily clad babes are required to brutally murder each other with their bare hands, all manner of bladed weapons, and even flamethrowers(!) until 10 remain, earning the honor of serving as navigators. For a few minutes the film transforms into the Lingerie Bowl version of The Hunger Games. If Michael Bay were to ever remake Battle Royale, it would be exactly like this incredible sequence of cheesecake carnage.

Movies like Death Race 3: Inferno are like a piece of chewing gum – the flavor is fleeting, you spit it out when you’re done without hesitation, but it gave you the minor fix you were after. If you read this review and cannot understand how I can still justify giving it three stars, I just have two words for you:

“Fuck logic!”

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Deleted Shots Montage
  • The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno
  • Feature Commentary with Director Roel Reiné
  • Alternate Opening
  • Racing for Death featurette
  • Art Imitating Life: Goldberg featurette

    Film:

    3 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 out of 5

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    Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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    Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

    Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


    While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

    A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

    When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

    Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

    Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

    While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

    • Inside (Remake)
    3.0

    Summary

    Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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    User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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    What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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    “Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

    It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

    Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

    Let’s find out…

    For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

    Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

    That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

    You just have to get through all the angst first…

    But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

    MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

    In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

    • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
    3.5

    Summary

    Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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    Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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    Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

    Directed by Toby Canto


    I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

    Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

    Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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