Death Racers (DVD)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, Raven, Jason Ellefson, Robert Pike Daniel, Stephen Blackheart
Directed by Roy Knyrim
Distributed by The Asylum
It's the near future and society has crumbled; the world has devolved into stock footage from The Asylum's Cloverfield mockbuster, Monster. Society's worst have been wrangled into an Escape from New York-ish location known as the "Red Zone". A criminal calling himself The Reaper is forcing a scientist to make him some sarin gas to unleash into the water supply that runs beneath the Red Zone as part of his scheme to stick it to the government, which from the looks of things now consists of four people in a small room. Those four come up with a scheme to stop The Reaper: institute a death race of two-person condemned criminal teams in weaponized vehicles duking it out through the red zone with the surviving team that scores 1,000 points and kills The Reaper earning their freedom.
It's pretty sad that The Asylum's Death Racers is more in spirit with Death Race 2000 than Paul WS Anderson's Death Race. Even sadder that I'd rather sit through that remake again than this.
I believe the word "clusterfuck" was coined specifically to describe movies like Death Racers. Like an Asylum attempt to make a Troma movie, it is 100% attitude and 1,000% nonsense. Can't really fault the film for being trash cinema since that's all it wants to be. I was willing to go with the chaotic spirit of it in the beginning, but it didn't take long at all before the overly junky Death Racers wore out its welcome and became a downright grating clunker. Nothing makes sense. There's barely a plot. Every character is obnoxious. I couldn't help but notice how little racing there was to this race; the racers spent more time sitting in their parked cars or standing outside their vehicles bitching at one another than anything else.
There is plenty of killing and plenty of gore that should satisfy some, but I really wasn't impressed by any of it. Director Roy Knyrim is no stranger to splatterfests, having helmed the must-be-seen-to-be-believed Demons at the Door and the monstrous blood-spiller Cemetery Gates. I'm afraid this time he's forgotten that being mindless is one thing; being mind-numbing is a whole other matter.
"You're a dumb ass. You drive like a bigger dumb ass, dumb ass."
"That car can go from zero to suck my dick in 0.2 seconds."
Dialogue such as that is what passes for wit. The whole movie settles for a more abrasive tone loaded with dialogue more deserving of an Ain't It Cool News talkback. Even the in-movie television presentation of the race - the sort of TV breaks we've seen done with real ingenuity in films like Robocop and The Running Man - are so devoid of clever commentary it defeats the purpose. The opening few minutes of Death Racers showed promise; the introduction of the various teams including a pair of murderous females calling themselves "Vaginamyte" is as scintillating as it gets. It was all downhill racing from there.
Given the amount of screen time they get, that their music permeates the soundtrack, and the overall mindset of the movie, Death Racers is less a motion picture than it is an Insane Clown Posse infomercial. They are most definitely the real stars of the film. The ICP play themselves in the future after their music has been banned for inspiring multiple murders. This made them outlaws, and now they're driving a ferocious-looking ice cream truck in the death race. If you're a hardcore Juggalo, then this movie will probably be bliss for you. If you're not a fan of ICP (like me), this film will serve as a sturdy reminder as to why you're not.
Speaking of the soundtrack, what was up with that blatant rip-off of the Predator theme music?
What about Raven? The former ECW/WWE/TNA wrestler plays The Reaper looking like a bloated merchant seaman in dire need of a bath. He's not much of an actor, but he's not awful and certainly better than certain other bad overactors in the cast. As far as wrestlers turned actors go, I don’t think “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has any reason to be looking over his shoulder just yet.
If you're a die hard Juggalo or think Troma is the pinnacle of cinema, then maybe Death Racers will rock your socks off. Me, I wanted my time, my money, and my brain cells back.
1 out of 5