Make no bones about it, Roger Corman's Deathsport is a terrible film (sporting the best DVD art ever!) -- but if you have a penchant for the B-King and post-apocalyptic hilarity, then look no further. Add to that David Carradine looking a little worse for wear, Richard Lynch spewing his signature one-liners, and Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings -- and you have yourself an oddball, nomadic bonanza. The film rips off Corman's own Death Race 2000 as much as it does Star Wars -- only Deathsport trades Tie-fighters and X-Wing fighters for motorcycles.

The story (if you can call it that) takes place after the great Neutron Wars (not to be confused with the Neutron Dance ... ), where the world becomes a barbaric wasteland made up of mutant cannibals (complete with goofy eye goggles) and Range Guides. After that I couldn't tell you much, but there are guys in silver jumpsuits, solid gold gladiator helmets, and the ultimate face-off between Darth Lynch and Carradine Skywalker (did they spend three bucks on that head, or what?). We are never really told what the Deathsport is, but you can gather from the action that it involves revenge and dirt bikes. There's also the usual Corman explosions (several!), a terrible landscape/backdrop painting, swords that make sounds like light sabers, and naked dancing girls (in case you got bored and needed breasts to wake you up ... ) who shake their moneymaker while being electrocuted by Lord Zirpola (David McLean).

Deathsport is a fun, late-night movie experience, but definitely not Corman's finest hour. Despite its misfires, you still want to root for anything under the beloved director/producer's banner. Check this one out for nonsensical fun at its finest.

Hit the jump for a look at Battletruck ...

Battletruck (aka Warlords of the Twenty-First Century) wasn't produced or directed by Roger Corman, but it was distributed by his New World Pictures imprint. Like so many things when it comes to filmmaking, Corman was apparently ahead of the curve with Battletruck too; filming took place in New Zealand -- a location where many companies want to shoot now, because everything looks like Middle Earth there -- and by tackling a story that takes place after World War III/The Oil Wars. At its worst, Battletruck is like a cheap Mad Max ripoff and at its best, it combines sci-fi and western elements with heart (and an extra side of cheese ... ).

Looking a little like the truck from Land of the Dead, Battletruck is the granddaddy of all badass oil-guzzling machines. Colonel Straker (James Wainwright) invades a peaceful tin shed Quaker-ish community, and Michael Beck on a motorcycle rides in to save the day. Straker's runaway daughter is fighting against her father, to take down the massive, heavily armored Battletruck and Cliff Clavin from Cheers (John Ratzenberger) and friends help out.

Despite the DVD picture featuring a Terminator of a truck plowing through the land, there just wasn't enough to keep me totally interested in Battletruck's story. The characters are kind but boring, and the action is slow until the end where the payoff comes too little too late. Points for trying though -- Max Rockatansky wannabe and all.

Shout! Factory has come through again on this double feature in the Roger Corman Cult Classic's Collection. They don't skimp on the features, despite the skimpy budget: commentary tracks, still galleries, trailers, and TV spots are sure to entertain. I can't imagine the quality of the film that Shout! was handed when they got a hold of these flicks -- there's some scratches and grain that may be more noticeable than the other movies in their lineup, but it actually adds to the ambiance in an exploitation-happy way. Corman and I must listen to the same music, because these low-budget gems have the best synth-blippy music ever. Jerry Garcia even provides some guitar muzak on Deathsport that sounds nothing like the Grateful Dead (thank goodness!).

Pick up a copy of Deathsport and Battletruck over here to check out the low-budget fun for yourself.


CATEGORIES DVDs, Features, Reviews, Sci-Fi