Exclusive: The Cars and Drivers of ‘Death Race 2050’
Death Race 2050, the reboot of Roger Corman’s cult classic Death Race 2000, hits Blu-ray and VOD this Tuesday. Starring Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), Manu Bennett (Arrow), Marci Miller (Days of Our Lives), and Yancy Butler (Witchblade), Death Race 2050 modernizes the original’s premise of a dystopian future where the highest form of entertainment is a three-day, transcontinental race where drivers earn points for killing pedestrians. If the premise alone doesn’t tell you as much, this one’s not recommended for kids.
Before you pop in the disc or load it up on Amazon.com, check out our inside look at the cars and characters that populate the world of Death Race 2050.
To win your own copy of Death Race 2050 on Blu-ray, enter our giveaway!
The Plot of Death Race 2050
The year is 2050 (surprising given the title, I know), and the United States of America is no more. Enter the United Corporations of America, a mostly-derelict wasteland where states have become corporate-owned territories with names like Onepercentia, Guugleplex, and Ama Zone (get it?). 99.93% of the populace are unemployed thanks to the proliferation of job-eliminating technology.
The other .07% of Americans are—you guessed it—rich pricks who convene in sprawling warehouses filled with classic cars to eat black rhino meat and delight at the poverty of the stupid, virtual-reality-obsessed masses. At the helm of the UCA is The Chairman (Malcom McDowell), a megalomaniacal, unsympathetic, and thoroughly dishonest leader who is perhaps most notable for having a truly horrendous hairdo. In short: he’s basically the current president-elect, only somehow less of an embarrassing, raging dumpster fire.
Because the population seems capable of living well beyond the age of 100 and continues to reproduce despite the presence of free sterilization clinics, The Chairman presides over the annual Death Race, which seeks to pare down the population by carving a bloody corridor across the UCA.
Over the course of three days, five drivers aim not just to be the first to make the transcontinental trek from Nueva York to New Los Angeles (which, due to global warming, is now largely underwater and known as “The Land of 1,000 Islands”), but to mow down as many pedestrians as possible along the way in an effort to rack up points.
The cars of Death Race 2050 are the brainchildren of director G.J. Echternkamp, FX Director Fernando Vasquez, and legendary producer Roger Corman. In “Cars! Cars! Cars!”, a special feature available on the Death Race 2050 Blu-ray combo pack, Echternkamp says that he intended for the cars to fall somewhere between “badass and totally ridiculous.” It is fair to say that he succeeded in that aim.
Echternkamp, knowing little about cars, focused on the various weapons that each competitor would have to work with. As for designing the cars, Corman used the experience of having dreamed up the cars in the original to aid Vasquez in the creation of the five feature vehicles. Starting with a stripped-down chassis and a rear-mounted engine, Vasquez manipulated the frame and wheelbase to achieve the desired length and stance.
Pretty much everything else that you see on the five cars is packing Styrofoam covered with painted fiberglass and papier-mâché, which makes the look of the finished product all the more impressive.
Now, let’s meet the drivers, their copilots, and their machines.
Frankenstein (Manu Bennett)
Copilot/Proxy: Annie Sullivan (Marci Miller)
The masked four-time winner of the annual Death Race, Frankenstein comes into the 2050 race intending to go out on top with one more win. Having survived numerous crashes in the past, he is said to be half-man and half-machine; some even say that he has a 500-gallon tank…in his heart.
Appropriately nicknamed “The Monster,” Frankenstein’s car is built to resemble a multi-eyed, fanged, green dragon-beast, a style that Bennett attributes to Aztec influences. The Monster sits low to the ground and features a sparse interior marked by a skull-handled shifter and a turbo button on the handbrake. It may not have the bells and whistles of some of Frankenstein’s competitors, but given its winning track record, The Monster clearly has everything it needs to win.
Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead)
Copilot/Proxy: Eve Rocket (Leslie Shaw)
The foremost rival to Frankenstein, Jed Perfectus is a scientifically-engineered Adonis bent on proving his superiority over lesser men. Perfectus is positioned as the entitled, self-assured, blonde-headed manchild who has never been told “no” in his entire life–think Eric Trump, only shredded and without the face of a sewer rat. Perfectus believes he was bred specifically to defeat Frankenstein, and he will stop at nothing to fulfill his destiny.
Perfectly demonstrating his vanity, Perfectus’ “Inseminator” bears a Sistine Chapel-like painting of himself on either side. On the left, God himself is depicted reaching up to touch Perfectus’ hand. To help secure victory, the front of the Inseminator features three harpoon guns that can be used to make daring saves, stop the progress of competitors, and score points by way of racking up casualties.
Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey)
Copilot/Proxy: Deacon Grogg (Junior Jain Taboada Palomino)
Tammy the Terrorist is a red-white-and-blue bedecked religious zealot who leads a “convoluted religion” dedicated to praying to the names of celebrities like Tom Hanks, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and Saint Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She encourages her followers in the Innerfaith Society of Inner Sanctity (get it?) to “martyr up” so that she can achieve victory in the Death Race, promising them virgins and chicken wings at the Almighty’s Hooters in the sky.
Tammy’s vehicle is, naturally, covered with religious and occult sigils. Consistent with the sainthood of celebrity, her vehicle’s dashboard is adorned with a Marilyn Monroe bobblehead. Weapons include roof-mounted machine guns and missiles on the rear wings; there is a two-barrel gun built into the front center of the vehicle, though Ramsey says that the original script called for it to be a sort of stabbing tool.
Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku)
Copilot/Proxy: Chi Wapp (Pierre Paolo Goya Kobashigawa)
Minerva Jefferson made her bones as a recording artist and–not kidding–sex tape starlet, and she comes into the 2050 Death Race with a considerable fan following. At least part of her ambition is the promotion of her new hit single, a piece seemingly written for the Death Race entitled “Drive, Drive, Kill, Kill.”
Drive, Drive, Drive, Drive, Drive, Drive, Drive, Drive
Drive, Drive, Kill, Kill, Drive, Drive, Drive
Kill, Drive, Kill, Drive
Kill the white man
With a car, car, car
Hey, say what you will, but it is by no means lyrically worse than pretty much any Black Eyed Peas single you can name.
Minerva’s car features a sort of insectoid carapace that houses exterior-facing subwoofers used both in the bumping of music and the exploding of heads. The instruments on the dash are jewel encrusted, and the center console has an integrated turntable that allows Jefferson’s copilot/DJ Chi Wapp to spin her latest single. Additionally, “Ganja” features a bulletproof windshield and roof, which Olowofoyeku says “not only protects you from bullets, but it protects you from bullshit.”
ABE (voiced by D.C. Douglas)
Copilot/Proxy: Dr. Von Creamer (Helen Loris)
ABE is a completely autonomous vehicle that is built of impenetrable steel and looks a bit like a bloated, somewhat lopsided Batmobile. ABE is the creation of Dr. Von Creamer, whose ambitions for creating the car are equal parts pleasure and business.
In addition to a built-in telematics system that can be used to manipulate drones and reprogram them to attack at will, and front-facing cameras that allow ABE to recognize and assess threats, ABE features a cushy interior that includes a convenient vibrating seat function. The core of ABE is an artificial intelligence that may or may not be so advanced that it is just on the cusp of achieving free-will.
Photos: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment