Let’s talk about motorcycles for a moment, shall we? Whether or not you think they’re complete death traps, you’ve got to admit, the people riding them are usually depicted as being cool as all hell. Cruising down the open road, leather jacket slightly open, with a half-naked co-ed clinging to them as an explosion is reflected in their sunglasses right as they do a sweet jump into the sunset.
But, as is usually the case, reality is not nearly as cool as film. The people who ride motorcycles in the real world usually either look like Santa (which is ADORABLE, by the way), or are doing so and somehow still managing to look like complete tools.
Which brings me to tonight’s film: Deathsport, a film about motorcycles. And explosions. And holy mother of God, I hope you’re ready for a lot of both.
So, as the credits begin, two words flash on to the screen. These two words will forever shift my image of a man, whom I once deeply respected as a performer, more than the time he was found dead hanging in a closet in Thailand with a belt around his neck and his dick in his hand.
Dear God. This man is a legend of cinema. Some other names scroll by, but who gives a shit, right? Fucking Bill is in this movie, and if what we’ve seen so far is to be believed, he is more important than the goddamn title. I’m going to do my best to keep the autoerotic asphyxiation jokes to a minimum, because that’s a really cheap and lousy gag. Fuck. That was an accident, I swear. I just choked under pressure. GODDAMMIT.
Anyway, not to beat a dead horse, I shall hand it over to the film’s narrator, who fills us in on the world in which this film takes place.
“A thousand years from tomorrow, after the great Neutron Wars, the world consists of desert wastes and isolated city-states. A few machines remain as symbols of the past, but only the city-dwelling Statemen use them. Between the cities roam the dreaded Cannibal Mutants and the Range Guides. Guides are legendary warriors, leading an independant, nomadic life, loyal only to their code.”
As the film proper begins, we see Carradine as Kaz, one of the aformentioned Range Guides. He is rugged, bearded, and showing waaaaaaaay too much skin. Like, I get you’re trying to make him look like some kind of wild man, but Jesus movie. A loincloth? A fucking loincloth? You’re seriously not making this easy for me, man. The temptation is right there. And you know a thing or two about giving in to temptation, don’t you Carradine? Okay, that one was intentional, I admit.
We then cut to some men who appear to be hunting Kaz. They seem to be trying to get the jump on him, but I’d like to think a man who spends all his time riding around in the woods would notice a bunch of mulleted dudes in silver jumpsuits, even if they were being super sneaky and walking on their tippy toes. Sure enough, Kaz gets the drop on them, and attacks them with what may be the least intimidating weapon I have ever seen in film. It’s plastic. You got that at the dollar store. Don’t even fuck with me, movie. I had like six of those. It even makes a cheap little buzzing noise. I’m sure they were trying to go for more of a lightsaber feel, but it’s pretty clear the person in charge of weapons had only ever heard Star Wars told to him second-hand.
After Kaz dispenses of his pretty useless trappers, men on motorcycles appear, kill Kaz’s horse (or rather, hit it with a hand blaster and jump-cut it out of existence) and capture him almost instantly. Probably should have opened with that one, guys. Way less paperwork to fill out when you get back, is all I’m saying.
Kaz is brought back to the city-state of Mat-Paintingistan or something, and we get to see our two main villans; Ankar Moor, a Range Guide turncoat, and Lord Zirpola, the sweaty, seemingly drunk, always really pissed off-looking leader of this city-state. They are discussing the capturing of Range Guides for something called Deathsport, and Moor mentions that two motorcycles were destroyed capturing four Guides. Zirpola, flying into a drunken fury, thinks that is unacceptable, stating: “People need to be made to believe that riding a Death Machine will make them as powerful as a Guide.” Whoa, hold on. Just hold the hell on for a second here. Death Machine? Did you just call a motorcycle a Death Machine? What are you, a biker’s mom?
Anyway, Lord Zirpola decides that he needs one more Range Guide to complete his collection, and Ankar Moor heads out to find one. Zirpola specifies that it be a female, which just makes you want to start insisting that you be able to see his hands at all times. We then cut back to the wilderness, where we see two female Range Guides leading a group of Statemen through the wastes. We’re not quite sure as of yet which one of them will probably be naked at some point in this movie, but the brunette has a creepy, lumpy daughter, so I’m going to go with the blonde. Some men on Death Machines attack the group, the brunette is killed, her potato kid is snatched up by some Cannibal Mutants, the Statesmen are arrested and blondie, whose name is Deneer, is captured. Ha! I was right!
We then find ourselves in a small, dirty, probably very smelly room, and David Carradine is passed out, unbathed and wearing a diaper. Such is life. As he wakes up, he realizes he’s trapped, and reacts pretty much how anyone would, given the current predicament; like a fucking chimpanzee. He starts jumping off the walls, throwing stuff around his cell, beathing his chest and generally acting like a caged animal. I guess it’s supposed to make him look feral, but honestly, I kind of sympathize with the guy. I mean, think about it: you wake up in a loincloth in a room you’ve never seen before, it probably smells heavily of piss, and the door is fucking locked. At that point, the lizard part of your brain takes over. It would happen to any one of us.
Anyway, Kaz looks through his cell window and locks eyes with Deneer. There’s some exposition about how they kind of know each other and that Deneer knew Kaz’s mom and Kaz’s mom was a really righteous chick or something, but none of that matters. What does matter is that Kaz can somehow see Deneer’s memories. He sees the lumpy kid get taken by the Mutants, and agrees to help her get the kid back after they escaped. So, what, is he psychic? Is this some ability they all share? It’s not really explained ever, so go ahead and assume which ever one of those makes your head hurt less.
We then cut to Zirpola, who appears to be having some sort of massive stroke. A doctor is called in to take a look at him, and determines that his brain is actually rotting from radiation exposure. Honestly, I feel the same way right about now. The doctor makes the (rather sensible) suggestion that Zirpola should probably step down as leader, given the fact that he is apparently going insane. Zirpola responds by arresting the guy and condemning him to Deathsport, which is a totally level-headed response, in my opinion.
The doctor is tossed in the same holding cell as Kaz, and tells him that Zirpola is going nuts and wants to start a war with a neighbouring city-state for its fuel. Kaz, apparently, thinks that this is a fucking hoot. He’s laughing at how stupid the Statemen are for letting a madman lead them to their deaths. That’s kind of fucking cold, bro. As all this is happening, the doctor’s foppish son returns to discover that his dad’s been arrested, and reacts like he just got a thirty dollar parking ticket.
Kaz and the good doctor talk about Deathsport, and we finally find out exactly what the fuck it is. In this new society, the modern prison system has been abolished. Instead, prisoners are thrown into huge gladiator matches. The winners go free, the losers get killed off. Yeah, that… that seems like a really excellent way to make sure all the most dangerous motherfuckers get out of prison pretty quickly, movie. Then, Ankar Moor shows up and starts to mock his former comrades. Deneer accuses him of having lost his soul or something really fucking stupid like that. Then, Kaz drops the big one; Ankar Moor killed Kaz’s mom. Do I smell a revenge subplot? Fuck yeah, I do! Turns out Kaz’s mom was a really good Range Guide, which obviously makes Kaz, like, also really good. As if we didn’t know that already. I mean, he eluded capture so easily. Oh, hang on a second. Nope. Not that. The other one. Got captured very easily. Yeah, that.
A group of guards arrive to do… something. They never really make it clear. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because it turns out that one of the guards is the doctor’s son, who’s here to spring his dad. His father is so happy that the two start to hug. And never stop. For the rest of the film, these two never stop giving each other the grossest dry-hump rub-down ever caught on film. It’s actually totally distracting. Kaz, Deneer and other freed Range Guides are planning some sort of grand prison break and there’s probably a big battle coming up, but I’m completely unable to break my eyes from the freaky two-man cuddle pile going on in the corner.
Oh, good. We’ve broken away long enough to watch Ankar Moor inform Zirpola of the prison break. Zirpola has the Range Guides and the man-handling father and son gassed and rendered unconcious. Kaz is taken away by Ankar Moor, and Deneer is sent to Zirpola. Remember, this is the female that he specifically requested. This sweaty, cantankerous, presumably reaking of Teacher’s Scotch, creepy old fucker. Nothing good can come of this. Literally nothing.
We cut to a dark room, and a mysterious voice says the first line of this film that legitimately had an affect on me. I am now terrified of what I’m about to witness:
“LET THE PUNISHMENT BEGIN”
I don’t know what the hell just happened. Like, I’ve got a boner, sure. But I don’t know if I should feel okay with myself over this one. Deneer was set loose in a glass dildo forest, completely naked. She’s rubbin’ up on all the dildo vines, gettin’ all in the groove, cuttin’ loose a little. But then we find out that Zirpola’s watching, and with a flick of a switch, he transforms this peaceful little softcore acid trip into a nightmare lifted straight from the mind of Sigmund Freud. She was terrified. She knew that, at any moment, she could die. And what was Zirpola doing? He was watching, and he was smiling, my friends. He was smiling.
We then cut away from this scene of utter perversion to find David Carradine, chained up in a basement, being flogged by a man while another guy watches. I’m starting to see why he did this movie, actually. Anyway, Kaz calls out Ankar Moor, challenging him to one-on-one combat, citing the code of the Range Guides. Moor, being a villan, naturally thinks the code can shove it and refuses the challenge, saying that he’ll enjoy watching Kaz die by someone else’s hand more than actually doing the deed himself. Rather odd take on hatred, but who am I to judge.
Kaz is tossed back in the cell with Deneer and the weirdos. He’s in pretty rough shape, so Deneer uses her magic powers to heal his wounds. Obviously. Then the two of them do some sort of pre-battle prayer before the doors get kicked in and guards pour into the cell. Kaz and Deneer are taken out and readied for Deathsport as Zirpola does his warmongering thing, talking about how the Death Machines will carry them to victory, acting like he’s going to drop dead any second, yadda yadda yadda. Then, Deathsport begins. Two guys on Death Machines are pitted against one another and, when one eliminates the other, the victor is set free. Again, these are just two criminals. Not necessarily death row inmates, they’re probably just your run-of-the-mill criminals. These could be a pair of video pirates, for all we know. After the battle is over and one Stateman wins his freedom in one round, the next batch of victims are picked to be pitted against Kaz and Deneer. The doctor’s cuddle buddy son is among those chosen, and the two share a lingering stare that is of an illegal calibur of creepy in modern cinema.
Moor arrives to mock Kaz one last time before the round begins, and Kaz tells him that he’d want nothing more than to just slice him up. So… why don’t you? Like, he’s right there, man. Just kill the fuck out of him. Oh, I see. There are three light bulbs running down the wall behind them, shining straight into the camera, trying to look like a forcefield. That’s a pretty bad special effect, guys. Like, I think the worst. Yeah, that’s what it is. Literally the worst. I believe the Gozdilla suit before I believe that. Moor tells Kaz that he and his mom can to fuck themselves, and Deathsport begins. Kaz and Deneer draw their plastic swords, Kaz mentions something about high ground, and the two people with dollar store weapons in loincloths set out to absolutely fucking ruin the heavily armoured Death Machine riders. We also get our first explosion and-
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THAT WAS AMAZING!
Did you see that?! That son of a bitch went up like the White House on Independance Day! That motorcycle exploded like it ran on fucking uranium! Seriously, no lie. I have watched a lot of movies with explosions in them. The ones in this movie are some of most ridiculous, hilarious, amazing detonations of any I’ve seen. These motorcycles explode in the most insane way, and there are so many that I lost count. In the first one we see, the force of detonation is so enormous that it actually launches the charbroiled motorcycle wreck about sixty feet straight up in the air. Like, holy shit. I’m willing to bet like sixty percent of this film’s budget was spent and the Acme TNT Surplus.
Zirpola is obviously angry that these assholes are fucking with his buzz by blowing up his Death Machines. So he responds by sending in more Death Machines. Not really sure how he thinks that’s going to help, but whatever. This reunites the father and son, who proceed to immediately start creeping me the fuck out again. Then, Zirpola flips a switch and HOLY SHIT MORE EXPLOSIONS FROM THE GROUND RIGHT NEXT TO THE ACTORS. Like, that looks really dangerous, guys. I hope you got stunt doubles or were insured or something. This also results in another Death Machine going supernova. It’s very pretty and full of sparks and then HOLY SHIT THAT GUY’S STILL ALIVE AND IS COMPLETELY ON FIRE! Now, I know that’s a dangerous stunt. I’ve seen professional stunt men get nervous before doing shit like this, and these are dudes that routinely get thrown from cars and off sixty foot buildings. I doubt this movie could afford a professional, though. So this was probably one of the directors less sober buddies who wanted to be in the film.
Kaz and Deneer decide they need to get themselves a couple of sweet rides, so they kill a pair of Statemen and steal their Death Machines. Remarkably, they seem to know how to pilot these machines better than any Stateman, even though they’ve never driven one and, come to think of it, never even seen them before today. They manage to blow up the force field holding them in the arena, and Kaz, Deneer, the doctor and his son escape. Zirpola flips out at Moor for letting them get away, and Moor grabs him by the collar and gets his angry whisper on. He threatens to kill the guy who’e already dying if he doesn’t simmer the fuck down, and goes after the Range Guides and the creepiest duo.
As Moor rides off into the wilderness, he and Zirpola determine that the runaway Range Guides are on their way to the city that Zirpola’s attempting to wage war on. Moor says he won’t fail, and Zirpola hangs up on him. And that’s when we realize where we are. We’re back in the nightmare factory. We’re back in the glass dildo forest of utter despair. There is some unlucky brunette trapped in there now, naked and drunkenly staggering around the room, with Zirpola watching like the creepy toad man that he is. Then he switches up the terror. Once again, the woman is terrified, and reaches out for help. Zirpola, presumably forgetting where exactly he is right now, takes her hand and is dragged into the terror room, where he dies immediately. I’m not going to miss him. Not one bit.
When Ankar Moor delivers the news to his hunting party that Zirpola’s dead, they all seem pretty okay with it. One of them even suggests that they give up the hunt and return home. This man is immediately shot dead by Moor, who says that he will kill Kaz, and return as the new leader of wherever the fuck this movie was taking place. I’m not really sure how killing a guy who broke out of prison qualifies you for political office, but this crazy future world must work differently than ours. So the team continues to hunt them, catch up to Kaz and his friends, and are killed off one by one with relative ease. There are some more epically beautiful explosions. At one point a motorcycle hurls off a cliff.
After eluding capture, Kaz and company decide to crash in an abandoned factory for the night before setting off to rescue the captured kid from the Cannibal Mutants. Oh, yeah. That was happening too, wasn’t it? Then Kaz shoots a rat to test his aim. He’s kind of an asshole, you see. The doctor and son talk about how the place used to be a munitions factory for the war. We’re never really shown anything about it, but it’s safe to assume that this Neutron War was some pretty serious business, considering it supposedly killed the world and mutated some of the population. In their exploration of the facility, Kaz discovers a pile of bones. This freaks out the kid, which Kaz thinks is funny as all hell because, as previously mentioned, the guy is an asshole.
Meanwhile, Ankar Moor and his hunting party are camped out for the night, and Moor is pissed off that they can’t hunt at night because of the mutants. So it’s sort of safe to assume that these mutants are kind of a big deal. But enough about that! Kaz and Deneer are getting it on for no reason! Kaz, even though there doesn’t appear to be a belt around his neck, and Deneer have a brief little sex scene because, hey, why not, right?
Then, it’s immediately morning again, and they’re back on the road, cracking wise about how Kaz overslept. This movie needs jokes like a sandwich needs a live beetle. But oh no! Ankar Moor has set a trap for them! Something tells me this is the end for our heroes! Oh, no, wait. Sorry, I keep forgetting. Everyone in this movie is a completely incompitent jackass. Sure enough, Kaz and Deneer manage to elude capture, but the doctor is killed. His son is so enraged that he tries to take on Moor and his entire team himself, but Kaz talks him down, making the rather logical point that the kid’s been pretty much useless so far and would probably just wind up dead. So the three survivors ride off as Ankar Moor throws a hissy fit and chases after them.
They ride around for a bit, and Deneer has some sort of memory rapid-cut flashback and figures out that the Mutants have taken the kid. I thought that was already established. I guess not. So the three heroes head into a cave to find the little girl. Kaz captures a Mutant and threatens to carve it up if it doesn’t take him to the little girl. They find her fairy easily, but are ambushed by a swarm of the terrifying Mutants, which look a lot like normal dudes in rags with crappy makeup on. The Guides very easily dispatch of the Mutants and HOLY SHIT ANOTHER FULLY BODY BURN! These people are insane! Anyway, the doctor’s son is wounded in the escape, and Kaz volunteers to stay behind and hold off Moor so Deneer and the others can escape.
Kaz leads Ankar Moor and the Statemen into a fuel depot. Oh, this ought to be good. Sure enough, it’s enormous explosion after enormous explosion after enormous fucking goddamn explosion. There are more pyrotechnics in this one movie than I think I’ve seen in literally any other. Kaz wraps up this ridiculous showdown by BLOWING UP THE ENTIRE DEPOT.
Like, holy shit. I hope that this was shot far enough away from cities that no one got nervous. I mean, this was filmed in the 1970s. Explosions of that magnitude tended to draw attention. Ankar Moor, realizing he’s totally been bested, finally agrees to face Kaz in single combat. Out revenge plot has reached its end. Finally, these two legendary warriors will meet head-to-head on the field of battle. Witnesses gather in the city’s tower to view the duel that people will speak of for centuries to come.
Kaz and Ankar Moor get to it, and you’d never know that this guy who wields his sword like it’s his first LARP session would later go on to be a master swordsman in Kill Bill. But hey, I guess everyone starts somewhere. They fight, exchange small talk and Kaz slices Moor’s head off. As he resheaths his plastic sword Deneer and Potato Kid ride up and give Kaz a horse, telling him that they will now ride together as a family. The movie ends with the three of them, riding off into the sunset, and also into the anals of legend.
Hey, I Know That Guy!: 5/5 David Carradine is hilarious in this movie, if only because he’s, well, he’s goddamn David Carradine! I don’t really feel I need to explain any further.
Ka-Blooey!: 5/5 These were some of the most ridiculously amazing explosions I’ve ever seen. They were absolutely over-the-top and, as such, perfectly fit in with the terrible acting and ridiculous storylines that make up Roger Corman movies.
I Saw A Boob!: 4/5 While there was plenty of boob to see in this film, it was always in a situation that made you feel a little uncomfortable. And I don’t care what kind of guy you are, weird boners are just that. Weird.
Overall: While this is by absolutely no means a good movie, I can’t really hate it all that much. I had a lot of fun watching it, in spite of (or perhaps even because of) its shortcomings. It entertained me, and I guess that’s what it ultimately boils down to. If you’re looking for some truly hokey acting coupled with stunts that the crew was obviously underpaid for, you probably won’t be disappointed.