Click to viewMaybe the Olympic Games are all about fostering world peace and crap like that, but we know that sports of the future will be the stuff of bloody, oil-fueled nightmares. To celebrate all the sports that don't foster cross-cultural understanding, we bring you a list of the very best scifi death sports captured on film. Competitive games should always lead to death, or at least maiming, don't you think? Well, yeah — duh. Check out our entrail-spattered list of future entertainments that kill. Rollerball Screw the remake — the original 1975 Rollerball with James Caan (pictured above) was a masterpiece of blood, wheels, and oil fires. Set in a corporate dystopia, the flick follows rollerball star Caan. Trying to prove that individuality is better than corporate conformity, Caan wins by becoming the best at this violent racing/skating/stabbing/flame-throwing game (and killing a lot of skaters in the process). Yay, individualism! Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome No deathsport is more iconic than the "thunderdome" from the third Mad Max post-apocalypse flick. Our hero Max (Mel Gibson) must fight some dude in body armor, with only his mullet to protect him, while Tina Turner watches regally. Rules of thunderdome? "There are no rules! Two men enter! One man leaves!" Oh, also, there are bungee-jumper cables and a chainsaw. So many people have seen this movie and wanted to play its deadly game that a bunch of people recreate the thunderdome every year at Burning Man. Without the chainsaws. Death Race 2000 As with Rollerball, there can be only one Death Race movie: Fuck the remake, and watch this 1975 gem directed by cultmeister Paul "Eating Raoul" Bartel. David Carradine is the black-hooded racer in this flick where the world becomes your deadly game, and competitors try to murder as many people as possible with their cars (women are more points than men; the elderly are more points than anyone). Plus, there is just a wee bit of political satire. You know, like making fun of Nazis and stuff. And lots of death. Did we mention the death? Kill! Kill! The Phantom Menace I think we can all agree that we'd like to forget The Phantom Menace, but you can't deny that the podracing scene was pretty cool. Though this was a kid movie, Lucas wasn't afraid to show little Anakin zooming through Tatooine's desert valleys and rock formations while his competitors blow up and die around him. This is a seriously long scene with multiple alien deaths and tons of shit-talking in those goofy alien languages that Star Wars is famous for. Plus, explosions! And the whole thing is even cooler when you think about all the ways this murderous sport trained Anakin to be a great leader in the world of murdering. Hard Target Alright, so Hard Target is more on the "thriller" side of the scifi/thriller fence, but it is definitely set in an alternate reality where a rich dude (played by Lance Henriksen) and his pals hunt down a homeless Vietnam vet for fun. Using crossbows. In the Louisiana bayous. But the very ultra-best part of this slaughterfest is that the guy they are hunting turns out to be a "hard target" because he's played by . . . Jean Claude Van Damme! Not only does he have the same mullet that saved Mel Gibson in thunderdome, but he's also chewing up the scenery and kicking shit around like a pro. This was also John Woo's first U.S. film, and despite everything it shines the way only a Woo film can. And yes, Jean Claude gets spicy-handed with the guns in one scene. A.I. — Artificial Intelligence Blah blah human story of a young boy robot who wants only to love his mommy . . . blah blah emotions . . . human love overcomes all blah blah . . . FLESH FAIR! In the middle of his sometimes-brilliant, often-smarmy film A.I., Spielberg lets the usually-hidden evil side of his imagination go wild with his depiction of the Flesh Fair where anti-mecha humans torture and kill escaped robots. They kidnap these mecha while they are on the run, and then invite a huge audience to the fair to watch as the ringleaders shoot them out of cannons, rip them up, or melt them with acid. Hey, that's show business! And a seriously fucked-up deathsport. Predator If there's any sport more fun to watch than Lance Henriksen stalking Jean Claude Van Damme with a crossbow, it's Predator hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger with a whatever-the-hell alien technology gun he has. Humans never tire of making movies where they are the prey to some scary hunter, and Predator is king of the "you are the hunted" subgenre. Tron Everybody knows the light cycle scene in Tron is one of the coolest ever — even the Sweded version kicks major ass. But what few people remember about this sport is that it kills. Programs that the Master Control Program doesn't care about anymore are sent to ride the light cycles until they die. Humans in the real world who are playing the videogame in arcades don't realize that each time they die, they are actually killing some poor accounting program who is screaming in agony. The Game Before the Batman alternate reality game (ARG) had people receiving phone calls from the Joker and going to bakeries in the real world to get cakes that contained cell phones, The Game was about an ARG gone wrong. A bored rich dude played by Michael Douglas (who pretty much owns the "unhappy middle-class white guy" role) decides to play a game that will make his life more interesting. Like an ARG, it starts out with phone calls and "fun" stuff designed to make it seem like he's being stalked by bad guys who want to kill him. Then it turns out he really is being stalked. What is real? What is the game? Why does Douglas always get to make it with some freaky blond chick who is fucking with his head? T.A.G. the Assassination Game From the same subgenre that brought you The Game comes this forgotten 1980s gem that featured both Linda "Terminator" Hamilton and Robert Carradine. I know this will shock you, but it turns out that fun college game where everybody tries to assassinate somebody with fake darts is actually . . . REAL! Dum dum dum! Who has yanked this silly college comedy into the realm of speculative weirdness by turning Animal House into DEATH HOUSE? Watch and find out. Proving that demented minds think alike, John Scalzi has also posted about scifi deathsports — and he includes several that I forgot to mention here!
Series 7 was awesome too. I could see why it wasn't included, since it's not really sci-fi, but I love the whole premise of it; the idea of a reality show about people sent out into a city with orders to kill each other, framed with all the reality show cliches like the whole confessional thing, etc.
And on The Running Man... eh, the book was better.