The Home of the Creative Mind

Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Comic Critic Reviews Death Race 2000 and The Return of Stickman #813

Death Race 2000 was one of the very first grindhouse films I ever saw. I believe it achieved cult status because it was timed to take advantage of the high frustration folks were feeling about gas prices and the economy. The storyline is none too subtle about it, either. In the film, a huge crisis occurs in 1978 that radically changed the political landscape, so by the year 2000 one of the means of population control is the Transcontinental Road Race. And the American Resistance Party believes that by messing with the race, they can bring down the immoral establishment. Like any wonderful grindhouse film, the premise was so ludicrous that by adding just a bit of humor to the script, the movie was able to achieve huge, if undeserved, laughs. Nobody cared about the huge holes in the plot or story, nor that the scoring system never made any sense. You just went to see some guy do what you wished you could do, and that’s what a lot of movies are about.

An interesting side note to the film is that the Video Arcades of the day were having a hard time. Kids could play Pong at home on their Atari systems, so they weren’t putting quarters into the slots at the arcades as fast as they used to. Then the Death Race arcade game come out. The goal was to run over a whole bunch of running figures. Once you did so, a headstone would pop up. The game became more and more difficult as more and more headstones got in your way. Running over a headstone would cause you to lose speed and it made a horrific noise. Anyway, a lot of uptight folks made a hue and cry over this immoral game. It was warping young minds. The story was picked up by the national news, and enquiring television programs pondered how video games were affecting American youth. All of this attention naturally drove kids back to the arcades for a chance at the machines–before it could be banned.

Some might think this to be the first movie-inspired video game, but that honor goes to Jaws. The bloodlust in Death Race was far more compelling to the media than Jaws for some reason. (Neither of the two games was properly licensed.) While it’s now de rigueur that a video game is released as a tie-in to a movie, it all had to start somewhere.

The Return of Stickman is a product of Monlux Illustration, “Home of the Creative Mind!”™