"1000 years into the future, after the Great Neutron Wars, the world is divided into desert wastes and isolated city-states," boasts the opening of this bogus follow up to DEATH RACE 2000. Actually, DEATHSPORT is an ultra-cheap, rushed Roger Corman production that was obviously doomed from the start.
Wild man David Carradine stars as Kaz Oshay, a desert range guide who rides a horse and sports a cape and loincloth. He roams around with a giant sword, protecting himself from Lord Zirpola's army. He is eventually captured and is imprisoned. He then encounters Deneer (former Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings), a sexy, scantily clad range guide with a celestial side to her.
After a botched escape, Kaz, Deneer and some other rebel types are forced to compete in the DeathSport, an annihilation tournament held in a public arena. This time they manage to get away on their destructocycles, but the evil Ankar Moor (Richard Lynch) and his cronies follow them into the wasteland. After facing some mutants (actors dressed in rags with bulging eyes made from egg cartons), Kaz and Ankar duel to the finish.
DEATHSPORT is full of shabby sci-fi clichés, many of which were spawned from STAR WARS--still fresh when this film went into production. There are sword fights, laser guns that look like they were constructed from coffee cans, and the mutant desert beings are much like STAR WARS' "sand people." Sinister Richard Lynch (donned totally in black) manages to shine in a film teeming with wooden performances.
The DEATHSPORT DVD really could have used an audio commentary which would make viewing much more interesting and tolerable. Rumor has it that there was a lot of drugging and drinking on the set (especially from Jennings who died in a car accident shortly after the film's release), as well as overall disorder. Carradine reportedly was feuding with first-time director Niciphor (called Henry Suso on the credits) who had his nose broken by the undisciplined actor. Carradine claims it was an accident, but it's just one of the enticing stories that needs to be re-explored.
Niciphor couldn't complete the film in fear of Carradine, so Alan Arkush (ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL) was employed to finish the job. The film is beefed up with some nice explosions and an ample amount of flesh (Jennings goes full frontal in a sequence where she dances around a forest of electric rods). But unconvincing matte paintings, abominable soundtrack music, as well as asinine costumes and sets that furnish the film with the look of an unsuccessful, late 70s, sci-fi TV pilot, cheapen the proceedings.
The DVD is adequately given a full frame presentation, not at all diminishing Gary Graver's cinematography. There is some minor scratches and speckling on the film source, but it's not really distracting, and the color and sound are both satisfactory. Extras include brief biographies of the principle actors, the standard Roger Corman booklet, and trailers for other New Horizons DVD releases. The box states that "Film critic Leonard Maltin interviews Roger Corman." There is no such interview present on the disc, but I would love to have seen one to recap some of DEATHSPORT's hastily documented mishaps. (George R. Reis)
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