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Grandstands, half real and half crudely-illustrated.

Historical Futurism

Hand Made Death

If you cross The Amazing Race with The Purge, what do you get? Death Race 2000 (1975), an insane romp, where five driver/navigator pairs race in a deadly cross-continent trek from New York to New L.A. It’s not entirely clear how the winning driver is chosen, as getting to the destination first is not the only goal—there is also a morbid points-system for hitting pedestrians along the way.

The drivers use stage-names, and their silly, decorated cars match in some way: Nero the Hero drives a Lion car, with protruding fangs and cat eyes for headlights; Calamity Jane drives a bull car, with horns and a nose ring; Matilda the Hun drives a Nazi-themed car, painted camo; Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stalone) has a car with 1920s mobster Tommy Guns pointing out; and Frankenstein’s car (David Carradine) is green and scaly.

Frankenstein's fan club and the film's typical sign painting.

The type in the film very limited, and most is hand-drawn—including the logo for the race itself, which can be explained in two ways. The fun explanation: throughout the film, the President of the United States continuously mentions the collapse of the economy; perhaps the economy has fallen so far that even printing is out of the question, forcing everyone to make their signage the old-fashioned way. The realistic explanation: the film’s budget was so low, and the design so lacking that the creators simply threw things together. As evidence for this second theory, I submit the opening scene: You can see the limits of the production budget in the obvious transition from real footage to poorly-illustrated background, complete with lime-green, sky-train.

Futura for scores on TV. Akzidenz Grotesk for the hospital

The first instance of actual type comes when explaining the points, where the broadcasters use Futura. The second is during the race, when Mercy Hospital (set in Akzidenz-Grotesk Extended) wheels their elderly out onto the road for “euthanasia day.” In a twist of ironic justice, Frankenstein swerves to hit the cruel nurses instead.

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