Saturday, 19 November 2011

On Yer Bike [Review: Deathsport]

Deathsport is a film produced by a certain Sir Roger of Corman, where battles between post-apocalyptic city dwellers and desert rangers take place on dirt bikes or "death machines." It is a safe bet that this film was an attempt to capture some kind of 1978 motocross zeitgeist. It stars David Carradine and Claudia Jennings and was filmed in the California desert.

Deathsport is occasionably watchable but mostly failed for me: as a science fiction film, the plot is confused, the concepts are unoriginal and mundane, the effects are lacklustre, the heroes and villains only ordinarily heroic or villainous, and the script and soundtrack both attempt to sound portentious but fall flat. And if the villain has a penchant for electrocuting naked women in rooms full of hanging phosphorescent tubes, while this is certainly an interesting aspect of his personality, I would like at least some clue as to why. Perhaps in the year 3000 this will be a common pastime or hobby.

As a film about dirt biking it fails to capture the imagination or sell the sport: while about 80% of the film takes place on the bikes, the action is repetitive and pointless, the stunts are not really death-defying and there's no attempt to make the bikes themselves interesting. A short sequence towards the end, where David Carradine rides through a series of tunnels, shows what is missing elsewhere: POV shots providing a sense of speed.

This article at Schlockmania includes some ideas about why the film is such a mess. It's more charitable than my review and points out, fairly I think, that Carradine and Jennings bring a lot of charisma and even some chemistry to the film.


Maurice Mitchell said...

The Deathsport trailer looks amazingly bad.

Any movie set in the
"year 3000" automatically gets the B-Movie treatment. But, really. Is it bad-good or bad-bad? Because bad-good movies are one of my weaknesses. :)

Sci-Fi Gene said...

It's kind of bad-bad-bad-bad-bad-good-good-bad. Which is one of my weaknesses...