Today is the last day of June and sadly, month of Corman must draw to a close. I have chosen Deathsport to wrap up this month of B movie magic. Directed by Allan Arkush and Nicholas Niciphor, Deathsport is a what you would get if Mad Max and Barbarella had dropped acid and had a psychedelic love child. It is set in the distant future ‘A thousand years from tomorrow’ after the neutron wars (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean), and stars the immortal David Carradine and the ultra sexy Claudia Jennings.
The setup is pretty convoluted so let me summarize by saying that in the year 3000 the Earth is an irradiated wasteland (Mad Max) and the population is reduced to living in major city states (Judge Dredd) and those not living in the cities are mutated cannibals who feed on people passing between cities (the Hills Have Eyes). There is a warrior class of pilgrims that help guide people from city to city (Knights Templar), and the ruler of one of the city states captures some of them to fight in the Death sport (Gladiator) which utilizes over powered motorcycles as weapons.
The hero, played by Carradine helps the love interest played by Jennings to rescue a child from the mutants and then has a final duel with with his arch nemesis (played awesomely by Richard Lynch) who betrayed his order and killed his mother (Star Wars). Sound complicated? it is really hard to make sense of this movie but what it lacks in plot and storytelling, it makes up for in Carradine loincloth wardrobe malfunctions. Carradine wears less than Zardoz and spends most of his time jumping at such angles which force us to stare deeply into his skimpy man diaper. I can only imagine what majesty the theater audience beheld as his loosely wrapped meat and potatoes gyrated from one side of the screen to another.
Watching this film you would have to wonder if the whole cast were on some drug fueled bender during the 6 weeks it took to make the whole movie. You would be right, as David Carradine was reportedly stoned out of his mind during every shot he was in, and Jennings had basically reversed the polarity on a snow blower and pointed it up her nostrils. At one point Claudia Jennings had to be physically carried off set because she was always on the verge of a cocaine overdose. She was so out of control that she died in a car crash shortly after the release of the film. The co Director Nicholas Niciphor was fired at some point during the filming because he didn’t get along with Carradine and Jennings and there was an altercation on set that led to the director getting his nose broken Kwai Chang Caine style.
The story of Deathsport is a fascinating one not for the actual story of the film but how the production went and how it was even a miracle that it got finished without someone getting decapitated. There were notoriously dangerous aluminum kits that got duct taped to Yamaha dirt bikes and there were enough explosions and fire to make Michael Bay ejaculate in his tighty-whities. By the end of the film Carradine had injured his knee and a stuntman was accidentally set on fire. I guess this is an occupational hazard when dealing with a production crew running on cocaine and doughnuts with access to more explosives than the IRA.
If you don’t watch the film for yourself I can understand, but you should atleast behold the totally NSFW trailer below. That about does it for Month of Corman! It’s been a lot of fun and I can’t wait for next June when we can explore Roger Corman’s films even further. Enjoy!
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.