Though April 5 was Roger Corman’s 90th birthday, he’s still working like he’s 20. In recent weeks the legendary filmmaker has been prepping Death Race 2050, a modern spin on one of his most famous movies, which will feature two female leads and lots of new twists.
This time around Corman’s just producing (G.J. Echternkam is directing), but he took a few minutes to chat with us about the movie, and debut some exclusive images from the set, which you can see above and below.
Gizmodo: Does you feel like Death Race has more to say now than back in the 1970s, with so many killing sprees? Is this still kind of a relevant social satire?
Roger Corman: Death Race is still pertinent to the seemingly endless series of killing sprees, shootings, and other acts of violence happening in this country. We portray a world of income inequality in which violence is used as entertainment, and I think that the themes of inequality and the negative outcomes of it are more relevant than ever.
In addition to that, I see a continuing rise in violent entertainment, including things like MMA and video games. One thing you see more and more, whether it’s the growing popularity of female MMA fighters or female action stars like the ones in Mad Max, is a push toward depicting women as fighters. Death Race 2050 continues that thread with two strong female drivers.
Does you feel like the Paul WS Anderson remake captured what makes Death Race great?
Corman: Paul WS Anderson made an excellent film. He went in a much more serious, dramatic direction, and he did a very good job depicting the race and the competition between the drivers. Our film of course still has the race, but with the added element of getting points for killing pedestrians. This distinguishes the film by turning it into more of a black comedy and a satire on things like the violence in American culture.
How is this Death Race going to raise the bar or distinguish itself from the original?
Corman: The most significant update to the film is through the depiction of technology. We are already seeing with social media and people being addicted to their various devices that we are becoming passive consumers of our own lives. Death Race 2050 tackles that idea by heavily featuring virtual reality, drones, and other forms of modern technology.
What is your role on set on a daily basis?
Corman: My role on set is limited. My work as producer is heavily done in pre-production. Generally, I go on set for the first few days and make sure everything is going well. I remain available to come back after that, but I leave the primary work to the director and production manager. Having been a director, I communicate as producer but try to stay away because having the producer on set can take away from what the director is trying to accomplish.