This was supposed to be part of Friday Night Drive-In, but things were delayed a day this week by the holiday. I tried to get my family to watch Death Racers on Thanksgiving, but they weren’t going for it.
“But it’s stars the Insane Clown Posse!” I protested. “Imagine a posse, but it’s made up entirely of clowns. Now–and this is the important part–imagine the clowns are insane!”
The idea behind Drive-In movie nights is to gather friends, snacks, and beverages and enjoy making fun of some really cheesy bad D-movies. But let’s be very clear up front: Death Racers is definitely going to test you and your friends’ boundaries of what is funny bad and what is just awful bad. The only people who are not going to be offended, disgusted, or mostly just bored by this film are fans of ICP, horrorcore acid rap, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and the Rob Zombie retro school of ’70s-style gore-splattered exploitation films.
If none of the above made any sense to you, then please, please trust me: Do NOT watch Death Racers. It will only result in unnecessary therapy and carpet-cleaning bills.
For those brave (or chemically altered) souls still determined to watch Death Racers, here’s what you can look forward to.
Death Racers takes the artistic leap of ripping off this fall’s Death Race, which itself was a remake of the ’70s exploitation flick Death Race 2000. The film’s narrator tells us that “Three years from now the war began,” and already your mind is totally blown as you try to wrap your head around the space-time grammar continuum. The film jumps ahead to 2033 as a master wrestler-terrorist named the Reaper is producing sarin gas inside the Red Zone, a massive walled-off prison area of the U.S. (Reaper is played by the WWE’s Raven, so names of characters or actors really aren’t all that important here.) To stop him, the government (represented by a governor in an office full of books and an American flag, so we know he’s powerful) holds a televised Death Race and sends in four two-person teams of sociopathic drivers to kill the Reaper.
In what is going to be an ongoing theme, I can’t even tell you names of some of the teams. Likewise, I can’t really tell you what they do inside the Red Zone–there’s just no way to euphemistically refer to these things on a family blog. But I will say that the rest of the film is a mostly nonstop parade of blood, severed limbs, heads popping like champagne corks, an ice cream truck that doubles as a meat grinder, and back-alley bedroom talk that will make you want to bathe in antibiotics.
Most of Death Racers‘ interior scenes appear to have been filmed in gas station restrooms–the cinematography has a sort of gangrenous glow that makes the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like Days of Heaven. Shot with less style and grace than most homemade skate-rap videos, the movie looks as if a camera threw up and then filmed the throw up. In terms of editing, pacing, and production values, this is definitely a film made by people who have heard tell of films.
Death Racers is a nihilistic gorefest, to be sure, but the gruesome effects are more of the “too-cheap-to-do-much-creative-or-shocking” variety. Still, visual ineptitude aside, it’s clearly made for those who were disappointed that all the murders in Seven happened off-screen. Yes, Death Racers is the sort of artistic endeavor on which groups like
Focus on the Family can launch an entire season’s worth of fund raising.
And at the center of it all are our intrepid anti-heroes, rappers J and Shaggy of the aforementioned Insane Clown Posse. Covered in their trademark black and white kabuki circus make-up and lacking the moral center and social restraint of KISS, the ICP have a mesmerizing screen presence. All awkward pauses, stiff poses, and tone-deaf line readings, these rappers-turned-actors finally answer the age-old thespian question What do you do with your hands? Grab a hatchet and get to work, of course!
And because it’s highly unlikely even the most stalwart of you will get all the way through to the finish, here’s how it all ends. Spoiler alert! Rub on the Inviso-Text! Murderous, brutal carny folk through and through, J and Shaggy at least get to go out as twisted anarchist heroes, both shouting “[To heck with] the world!” just before their clown heads vaporize.