Deathsport (1978)

R | 83 mins | Science fiction | 19 April 1978

Directors:

Henry Suso, Allan Arkush

Producer:

Roger Corman

Cinematographer:

Gary Graver

Editor:

Larry Bock

Production Designer:

Sharon Compton

Production Company:

New World Pictures
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HISTORY

The sequel to Death Race 2000 (1975, see entry), Deathsport was known by different titles throughout its development and release. While several sources, including the 8 Jul 1976 HR, the 12 Jul 1976 Box and the 21 Apr 1978 LAHExam, referred to the movie as Death Sport, a 20 Oct 1976 Var advertisement and a 19 Aug 1977 DV news brief called it Deathsport 2020.
       Voiceover narration at the beginning of the film explains the story’s futuristic, post-nuclear war setting and the division of human life into Statemen, mutant cannibals and the nomadic, warrior-like range guides.
       The character of the little girl in the movie is called “Tara,” but neither that role name nor the young actress’s name appears in the onscreen credits. Although an article in the 7 Jun 1976 DV noted that Jon Davison was producing the film, he received no credit in the movie.
       According to DV on 19 Aug 1977 and 5 Jun 1979, producer Roger Corman hired screenwriter-director Nick Niciphor directly from the University of Southern California’s film school. Niciphor is listed as “Henry Suso” in onscreen credits.
       HR on 8 July 1976 and Box on 12 July 1976 and 19 Jul 1976 reported that Deathsport would begin principal photography Fall 1976 and a full-page advertisement in Var on 20 Oct 1976 announced the project was “now filming.” However, on 19 Aug 1977, a DV news item stated the movie was scheduled to start ... More Less

The sequel to Death Race 2000 (1975, see entry), Deathsport was known by different titles throughout its development and release. While several sources, including the 8 Jul 1976 HR, the 12 Jul 1976 Box and the 21 Apr 1978 LAHExam, referred to the movie as Death Sport, a 20 Oct 1976 Var advertisement and a 19 Aug 1977 DV news brief called it Deathsport 2020.
       Voiceover narration at the beginning of the film explains the story’s futuristic, post-nuclear war setting and the division of human life into Statemen, mutant cannibals and the nomadic, warrior-like range guides.
       The character of the little girl in the movie is called “Tara,” but neither that role name nor the young actress’s name appears in the onscreen credits. Although an article in the 7 Jun 1976 DV noted that Jon Davison was producing the film, he received no credit in the movie.
       According to DV on 19 Aug 1977 and 5 Jun 1979, producer Roger Corman hired screenwriter-director Nick Niciphor directly from the University of Southern California’s film school. Niciphor is listed as “Henry Suso” in onscreen credits.
       HR on 8 July 1976 and Box on 12 July 1976 and 19 Jul 1976 reported that Deathsport would begin principal photography Fall 1976 and a full-page advertisement in Var on 20 Oct 1976 announced the project was “now filming.” However, on 19 Aug 1977, a DV news item stated the movie was scheduled to start shooting a year later in Fall 1977 and on 27 Jan 1978, HR reported that the film was in production.
       Although a Nov 1978 article in Chic mentioned that the movie was budgeted at $600,000, an article in the 5 Jun 1979 DV reported that the picture’s final budget was closer to $1 million.
       A 27 Jan 1978 HR news brief stated that production company New World Pictures would release Deathsport between Apr and Sept 1978; according to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 19 Apr 1978.
       On 17 May 1978, a full-page advertisement in Var stated the movie made $442,870 its opening week in Los Angeles. Reports in the 15 Jun and 28 Jun 1978 HR placed the movie’s two-month grosses at approximately $4 million and HR announced on 26 Dec 1978 that Deathsport had earned $9 million worldwide.
       Describing Deathsport as “shrewd” and “high-energy,” the 21 Apr 1978 LAT review concluded the movie “may be too impersonal to transcend its exploitation genre, but it sure is lots of exhilarating fun.” Other commentaries were less laudatory, with the 19 Apr 1978 HR pronouncing the film “a limp science-fiction effort whose obvious budget deficiencies are equal to its lack of overall invention,” and the Dec 1979 Films and Filming stating that, “rubbish of this sort needs either wit or production values to survive, and both these . . . are missing here.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Chic
Nov 1978
p. 77.
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1976
p. 32.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1976.
---
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1977.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1978
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1978.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1979
p. 1, 12, 40.
Films and Filming
Dec 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1978
p. 1, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1978
p. 48.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1978
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1978
p. 1, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 1978.
---
LAHExam
21 Apr 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1978
p. 21.
Variety
20 Oct 1976
p. 51.
Variety
26 Apr 1978
p. 19.
Variety
17 May 1978
p. 87.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
New World Pictures presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Spec lighting eff
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop master
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Synthesizer
Guitar
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mattes, Spec photog eff/Titles and opt
Cam, Spec photog eff/Titles and opt
Opt, Spec photog eff/Titles and opt
Lineup, Spec photog eff/Titles and opt
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Scr supv
Explosives
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt consultant
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Deathsport 2020
Death Sport
Release Date:
19 April 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 19 April 1978
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
MGM Laboratories
Duration(in mins):
83
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the aftermath of a nuclear war, one thousand years in the future, most people, called Statemen, live in isolated city-states separated by desert wastelands that are occupied by cannibal mutants and solitary nomadic warriors with legendary abilities called "range guides." Former range guide Ankar Moor leads a group of Statemen in capturing a particularly talented guide named Kaz Oshay and takes him back to the city-state of Helix. There, Ankar Moor and his master, Lord Armando Zirpola, discuss the importance of the death machines, motorized two-wheeled vehicles used by the Statemen, to Zirpola’s campaign against rival city-state, Tritan. Zirpola wants a female range guide captured and forced to fight in the upcoming Deathsport competition. Elsewhere, Zirpola’s men attack range guide Deneer as she escorts a group of people to Tritan. While one member of the group, Marcus Karl, protests he must get to Tritan, mutants kidnap the only child, a little girl named Tara. Statemen force the travelers back to Helix, where Deneer is placed in a cell near Kaz. The two range guides recall their previous meeting and plot their escape. Later, Zirpola learns from Doctor Agust Karl that he is suffering from a degenerative brain disease that will lead to madness and eventually death. Instead of stepping down and naming a successor as the doctor suggests, Zirpola accuses Karl of treason and has him imprisoned with Kaz. Meanwhile, Marcus learns his father, the doctor, has been jailed. In their shared cell, Karl reveals to Kaz that Zirpola is going mad and plans to tell his people they must to go to war with Tritan for ... +


In the aftermath of a nuclear war, one thousand years in the future, most people, called Statemen, live in isolated city-states separated by desert wastelands that are occupied by cannibal mutants and solitary nomadic warriors with legendary abilities called "range guides." Former range guide Ankar Moor leads a group of Statemen in capturing a particularly talented guide named Kaz Oshay and takes him back to the city-state of Helix. There, Ankar Moor and his master, Lord Armando Zirpola, discuss the importance of the death machines, motorized two-wheeled vehicles used by the Statemen, to Zirpola’s campaign against rival city-state, Tritan. Zirpola wants a female range guide captured and forced to fight in the upcoming Deathsport competition. Elsewhere, Zirpola’s men attack range guide Deneer as she escorts a group of people to Tritan. While one member of the group, Marcus Karl, protests he must get to Tritan, mutants kidnap the only child, a little girl named Tara. Statemen force the travelers back to Helix, where Deneer is placed in a cell near Kaz. The two range guides recall their previous meeting and plot their escape. Later, Zirpola learns from Doctor Agust Karl that he is suffering from a degenerative brain disease that will lead to madness and eventually death. Instead of stepping down and naming a successor as the doctor suggests, Zirpola accuses Karl of treason and has him imprisoned with Kaz. Meanwhile, Marcus learns his father, the doctor, has been jailed. In their shared cell, Karl reveals to Kaz that Zirpola is going mad and plans to tell his people they must to go to war with Tritan for fuel. Karl believes society won’t survive another war, so they must escape and stop Zirpola. Karl explains to Kaz that in lieu of the death penalty, condemned prisoners are sentenced to Deathsport – a gladiator-style battle in which inmates are forced to fight each other while the Statemen watch. Losers die on the field, but the winners gain their freedom. When Ankar Moor visits the prison, Deneer and Kaz criticize him for renouncing range guide ways and inform him his name is synonymous with dishonor. In retaliation, Ankar Moor taunts Kaz with the revelation that he is the one who killed Kaz’s mother, the most famous and powerful range guide of all. He now desires to see Kaz die. Sometime later, Marcus tries to free his father but the prisoners end up trapped in the building and the two range guides are taken away. While Zirpola tortures Deneer, in another chamber, Ankar Moor watches as Kaz is whipped. Kaz urges Ankar Moor to fight him alone in compliance with the range guide code but Ankar Moor refuses. When the range guides are reunited, Deneer uses her special powers to heal the lash scars on Kaz’s back. On the day of Deathsport competition, Kaz and Deneer use their swords to fight Statemen prisoners and commandeer two death machines. When the battles trip a land mine that destroys the force field confining the fighters to the battlefield, the range guides and the Karls escape from Helix. As Ankar Moor and a group of Statemen pursue them, Lord Zirpola dies by his own torture machine. When word of his master’s death reaches Ankar Moor, he insists the Statemen continue on the quest to catch Kaz. As Kaz, Deneer, Karl and Marcus ride toward Tritan, Karl explains to his son that since range guides live solitary lives, any unions they form last only until they achieve their common goals. Although they are in different parts of the wasteland, Ankar Moor and Kaz realize simultaneously that a flash wind carrying radiation sickness is heading toward them. The Statemen kill the doctor and resume their pursuit. Later, Marcus urges his companions to continue on to Tritan, but Kaz and Deneer insist on stopping to search for the child who was lost when the Statemen captured Deneer. She senses that the mutants took Tara and that the girl remains nearby. Marcus suggests they find shelter from the poisonous wind and Ankar Moor, but Kaz insists they go into the mutants’ caves to retrieve the lost child. After battling the mutants, they rescue Tara and return outside. Deneer, Kara and Marcus ride to Tritan while Kaz stays behind to face Ankar Moor. Kaz leads Ankar Moor and his men to an abandoned fuel base and destroys most of his pursuers. Ankar Moor sends the surviving Stateman back to Helix and faces Kaz alone. The two agree to fight with swords. Deneer, Marcus and Tara join Tritan’s residents as they rush to the city’s towers to watch the swordfight, which ends when Kaz beheads Ankar Moor. Moments later, Deneer and Tara approach Kaz. Kaz asks Deneer her plans and is surprised to learn that, contrary to the range guide code, she desires to go with Kaz. He agrees and the three ride off on horseback. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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