Without even realising it at the time, Deathsport prefigured Mad Max 2 (1981) and its trend-setting depiction of the post-holocaust landscape as a realm inhabited by motorised crazies and loner heroes engaged in gladiatorial combat. Of course, what Deathsport was trying to imitate at the time was Star Wars (1977). While it uses the post-holocaust landscape instead of outer space as its playground, the film otherwise features the same type of story involving rayguns, heroes with mystical training, helmeted villains in black, and with motorcycle chases in lieu of interstellar dogfights.
Certainly, the idea of the mystical Range Guides gives the Mad Max copy a more intriguing and potentially substantial theme than usual. In actuality though, it is just David Carradine back in Kung Fu (1972-5) mode uttering imponderable epigrams and here the prose really does become quite purple. Ultimately, it is this and the cheapness of the production that does Deathsport in. The film has a single matte painting of a futuristic city background for the arena and uses it several times over and obviously so. The same motorbike stunts and explosions are repeated several times. Worse the middle of the film turns into a lot of buzzing around the desert on motorbikes. The film clearly considered this would be enough in itself to maintain interest and this gives Deathsport extremely limited appeal beyond those that are motocross fans.
Director Allan Arkush went on to direct Hollywood Boulevard (1976) and the cult RocknRoll High School (1979) for Roger Corman, as well as the cute robot romance Heartbeeps (1981) and the fairytale spoof Prince Charming (tv movie, 2000). These days he directs a good deal of television. Henry Suso, alias Nicholas Niciphor, directed the obscure Goodbye Cruel World (1982) and these days writes for tv in Germany. The heroine of the piece was played by Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings who died in a car crash shortly after the films release. The soundtrack also features the peculiar novelty of no less than The Grateful Deads Jerry Garcia on guitar.
Full film available online here:-