Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Deathsport (1978)

The return! And what better way to come back than with some Roger Corman action?

Deathsport is a 1978 post-apocalyptic action/sci-fi flick from legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman. The year is 3000 and we are just passed the Great Neutron Wars in a world of desert wastelands and independent city-states that are somewhat futuristic in appearance. The film never goes into detail on what exactly the Great Neutron Wars were, but if in the year 3000 futuristic machines are dirt bikes with aluminum attached to it they must have done some damage.

The late David Carradine (KILL BILL vol 1 & 2) stars as Kaz Oshay, a legendary Range Guide. A Range Guide is pretty much a nomadic, loner that helps statesmen navigate the open wastelands to another location. They are similar to Jedi in this sense, though they don't have the force and their main weapon is a very unwieldy fiberglass sword. Kaz is ambushed and captured by Lord Zirpola's henchmen. Since there are no rules in this post-apocalyptic world Kaz is imprisoned and sentenced to deathsport (deathsport seems to be the only punishment no matter the crime or lack of).

While imprisoned Kaz meets Deneer (Claudia Jennings) another Range Guide. They are paired together during their round of deathsport. Now deathsport is a game, usually between two prisoners, that is a fight to the death. Each inmate is given a hand blaster and one of the futuristic motorcycles and ride around in an arena going at each other until there is only one survivor. The survivor is then freed.

Now you may be thinking this sounds an awful lot like Death Race 2000... that's because it is. Corman decided to cash in on his biggest grossing film up to that point but change out the cars with motorcycles. This is why we love Roger Corman.

As the Range Guides fight for their survival against a handful of statesmen, then a few more, then a few of Zirpola's henchmen they eventually get a break as the endless explosions knock out a force field generator and they escape. The chase and hunt for the escaped warriors (and a couple of imprisoned statesmen as well) is on, led by Ankar Moor (Richard Lynch), Zirpola's second in command and a man who has bloody ties to Kaz.

After Zirpola dies from an unkown illness, Moor takes over and exhausts his resources to tracking down Kaz and Deneer, who seem to getting very close. After a run in with some mutant cannibals who have kidnapped Deneer's daughter and a chase through the refueling depot for the motorcycles which is just another reason for explosions and burnt bodies (not complaining) the group finally makes it to the city of Triton and Kaz and Ankar Moor have a duel with only their swords (Moor never had a sword until the duel began of course).

Does this sound a tad bit confusing and nonsensical? Sure. Does it matter? Not really. Any fan of these types of movie knows to leave your brain at the door. It honestly seemed like they have made up a good bit of this as they went along, but if that was the case it worked out, at least in the case of entertainment value. This isn't Corman's best production nor the most entertaining but it is worthy of my praise and a spot in my collection. While it doesn't seem to have any real plot the cast, which is surprisingly competent for the script they had to work with, which let us be honest, isn't high art.

Grab some beers, turn your brain off and enjoy this mish-mash of elements from Star Wars, Corman's own Death Race 2000 and a desolate future.


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