It is a thousand years in the future, and mankind has been decimated by wars, leaving a few cities of survivors with wastelands in between, which are populated by mutants. The downtrodden people are looked after by the mystical Ranger Guides like Kaz Oshay (David Carradine) and Deneer (Claudia Jennings), but Lord Zipola (David McLean) captures those two and imprisons them deep within Helix City. There the Guides are expected to take part in Deathsport, a lethal game that serves as entertainment for the denizens of Helix City - will they escape?
I didn't know David Carradine was in the Guides, did you? This film shows you that being a Guide isn't all baking cookies and helping little old ladies across the road, although I'm sure he does that too, it's a post apocalyptic tale written by director Henry Suso (actually Nicholas Nicophor) and Donald Stewart from a story by Frances Doel. As it's a product of Roger Corman's New World studio, you know what to expect: action, nudity and a brisk pace all on a low budget, and as far as that goes, Deathsport delivers. If only it didn't take itself so painfully seriously.
You might not take it so seriously, in fact you probably won't, but the only laughs here are unintentional. As Kaz (short for... Katherine?), Carradine is a rugged hero, speaking, as almost everyone does in this film, as if he's in a Biblical epic, or more appropriately, a gladiator movie. Wearing not much more than a loincloth and a cape, he is subjected to a barrage of indignities once captured, singled out because he's the son of a famous female warrior who Zipola's second in command, Ankar Moor (Richard Lynch), had a grudge against.
Talking of female warriors, Claudia Jennings' heroine gets tortured just as much as Kaz does, but she gets to do it naked. Why this is I don't know, well, yeah, it's obviously for the titillation of the audience, but it doesn't have much to do with the plot, and turns the movie into some kind of sadomasochistic soft porn for a while, with a darkened chamber that has electrified rods as a fixture featuring heavily.
The most amusing performance is from Lynch, who sets out to recapture Kaz and his friends after they inevitably escape. He threatens his boss, gazes into the middle distance while talking about his nefarious plans, and, of course, shoots one of his henchmen when the poor fool has the temerity to suggest that chasing after Kaz is a waste of time ("Any more suggestions?!"). Lynch steals the film, and is far more entertaining than the po-faced Kaz, with his plastic sword and monotonous chivalry.
And what of the Deathsport? After half an hour's wait, we finally discover that it consists of zooming around on motorbikes shooting disintegrator rays at your opponent. Much like every other action scene in the film. The bikes are treated to way over the top sound effects, it's like listening to a Hanna Barbera cartoon, and they not only make the sound of a jumbo jet flying over, but a TIE Fighter from Star Wars, too. Anyway, after a lot of padding about saving a little girl from the mutants, it all ends as you would expect: with loads of Italian imitations. Music by Andy Stein (and Jerry Garcia on guitar, for some reason).