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Deathsport (1978) is a prime example of the type of film that Roger Corman’s New World Pictures was churning out in the late seventies. The film is packed to the gills with gratuitous nudity, campy acting, and poorly staged violence. Allan Arkush, whose work with Joe Dante on Hollywood Boulevard (1976) I really enjoyed, seems torn between prioritizing telling the story of the hero, David Carradine’s Kaz Oshay, and explaining the post-apocalyptic world that the character lives in.

There are far fewer “so bad, it’s good” laughs to be had in Deathsport than there were in its predecessor Death Race 2000 (1975). Claudia Jennings as Deneer, when not just serving as eye candy, brings a light sense of irony to the proceedings, but those moments are rare. What seems to work best in Deathsport are the scenes featuring the “bad guys” Richard Lynch and David McLean. These two ham it up as if they were drawing exclusively on Bugs Bunny cartoons for inspiration. McLean’s choices during the scene where he tortures Claudia Jennings are moments of a particularly inspired madcap sensibility.

I don’t think anyone really watches New World films for the plots. These are films that are pure, depraved, escapist nuttiness. I watched Deathsport as a double feature with Battle Truck (1982) as a double feature DVD from Shout! Factory and though the latter film is technically superior, I prefer the wackiness of the former. Corman managed to produce a handful of seriously great B-movies during his long career, Deathsport just isn’t one of them.