Anderson On His Race With Death

Perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects this September is the pending release of new updated version of the classic Roger Corman, B – Movie Death Race 2000. This movie made in 1974 tought a whole generation the best way in which to run over their grandmother and even score points for doing so – and to this day remains a cult classic in the hearts and minds of the baby boomer generation.

The original starred David Carradine as champion Death Race driver Frankenstein who would go to any lengths to win the Death Race event. His main rival was played by a young up and coming actor at the time Sylvester Stallone who played the role of Machine Gun Joe. The action was comic book – and the movie was spiced up with odd shots of nudity and sexual content like the majority of Cormans movies at that time. It was all good fun and perhaps the closest a movie could come to an adult comic book in the 1970’s. The plot – what little there was revolved around a future society which had broken down to the point of getting their jollies through watching a bizarre barbaric Death Race played out on Television – if only Big Brother could be like this – I mean 13 weeks man.

The remake of this movie is being handled by Paul W.S. Anderson who is perhaps best known for his work on the Mortal Kombat Movie. It stars British actor Jason Statham and features Ian McShane in the role of Death Race coach.

Anderson talked a little about his take on Death Race in last months Empire Magazine – below are a few snippets from his interview in the mag.

Death Race has been a subject close to Andersons heart for quite some time. In fact this movie has been 12 years in the making. It first came up over a dinner conversation he had with famed movie producer Roger Corman who asked Anderson what movie he’d like to make next… The answer of course was Death Race.

Since that conversation Anderson has revisited the 1974 movie on a number of accasions and came to the conclusion that in order to update the movie he’d need to re-imagine it.

“It really has dated so badly,” he admits, “and it’s nowhere near as cool as you thought it was. In many ways I’m remaking the movie that I remembered seeing rather than the actual movie that it really is.”

Anderson confirms that all elements from the original Death Race 2000 remain – only this movie is set in the near future in a America that is going through a second great depression. You still have characters from the original such as Machine Gun Joe – only this time out the Death Race is raced by Prisoners as part of a sick and twisted reality television show to entertain the masses. Statham plays the role of Jensen Aimes who is a prisoner who has been thrown in jail for crimes he didn’t commit. The warden of the Prison offers him the chance to race for his freedom in the Death Race – an offer he reluctantly after some coaxing accepts.

“It’s the idea of reality television run amuck, brutal voilance for entertainment,” says Anderson. “Where Corman’s film was very low – budget, we’re spending some significant money and big resources.”

One thing you won’t see in the new ‘Death Race’ is CGI. All the car crashes are for real. Anderson has latched onto the idea of making his movie as realistic as possible – following a trend, which was set in 2005’s Batman Begins.

“We’re all rust and grime and dirt and voilance and blood. We’re very much going to be an R – Rated movie.”

What’s interesting about Death Race 2000 is the fact that it was probably among the last of the great B – Movies. In the latter part of the mid 1970’s B – Movies slowly become a rarity as the likes of Steven Spielberg created the Summer Blockbuster out of what were very much B – Movie plots.

“You know, the B – movie has become the high concept for a movie, from Jaws on,” he says. “Steven Spielberg made a film about a f_____ shark eating people – that’s about as B – movie as you can get, and that became the box – office monster that reinvented Hollywood. That’s why Death Race is a very cool idea for a reimagining, and a lot of planning and effort has gone into making this an extremely good A movie.”

Death Race comes to UK theatres on 26 September.

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