Friday, January 11, 2013

Deathsport (1978)

The saving grace of Roger Corman’s cheapo productions is usually a sense of humor, and the importance of jokes to low-budget crap is obvious when watching the Corman turkey Deathsport, which is monotonously grim. A sci-fi thriller set in the same sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland seen in a gazillion other movies—gladiator contests organized by an authoritarian regime, radioactive mutants, and so on—Deathsport is so close to self-parody that it would have been easy to tip the thing into full-on satire. Instead, Deathsport is played straight, even though it’s filled with cartoonish costumes, over-the-top violence, and ridiculous dialogue. (In the finale, the hero announces, “Now we will have our duel,” and the villain replies, “I agree.”) David Carradine, seemingly unaware that he’s appearing in a piece of shit, lays on the gravitas to portray Kaz, a quasi-mystical warrior who roams the wasteland protecting common folk from overlords. He gets captured by bad guys who force Kaz and other warriors, including Deneer (Claudia Jennings), to participate in “Deathsport,” an open-field battle between warriors on foot and soldiers on motorcycles. During the game, Kaz and Deneer mount a rebellion/escape because they need to rescue a little girl from mutants. All of this is set to a chintzy synthesizer score that sounds as if it’s being played by a keyboardist whose day job is pounding away at a roller-rink pipe organ. Co-written and co-directed by Nicholas Niciphor (Corman and Allan Arkush also helped direct the picture), Deathsport is dull, grungy, and unpleasant, featuring not one but two scenes of nude women getting tortured in an electroshock chamber. Still, B-movie fans may enjoy the absurdly somber performances of Carradine and main villain Richard Lynch (a genre-flick favorite memorable for his badly scarred face). Furthermore, leading lady Jennings, a former Playboy model, is easy on the eyes whether dressed or (as if often the case here) not.

Deathsport: LAME

1 comment:

Joe Martino said...

Allan Arkush does a great TRAILERS FROM HELL piece on this...enjoy