By Breanna Whipple
“I am the Night Rider… I’m a fuel injected suicide machine… I am a rocker! I am a roller! I’m an out of controller! I’m the Night Rider, baby!” Paraphrasing the lyrics once wailed by rock and roll icon Bon Scott is a scruffy faced maniac behind the wheel of a stolen patrol cruiser once belonging to the officer he had just slain. Only a mere few years into the wake of a global energy crisis, the Main Force Patrol (MFP) are the sole remaining defence against complete and total anarchy. The Night Rider, one of many nefarious miscreants belonging to the motorcycle gang led by the especially heinous Toecutter, blazes up the Australian highways, evading his initial pursuers with stupefying ease. His maniacal laughter in the wake of expectant victory turns into blubbering tears upon finding himself in a game of chicken with the MFP’s strongest arm of the law – Max Rockatansky. Quickly meeting his end in an explosive wreck, only a portion of the societal cancer has perished. Responding to the fiery death of their brother in arms, Toecutter’s lemmings retaliate by meeting locals with inconceivable acts of violence. Without spoiling anything for first-time viewers, Max makes an educated decision to retire from the MFP and take matters into his own hands – this being only the beginning of the legend that would become known as Mad Max.
George Miller, director of all four films contained within the Mad Max quadrilogy, only had $350,000 to work with and a boatload of ambitious ideas when it came to his 1979 sci-fi adventure flick, Mad Max. Though it could not be known at the time, the Ozploitation (Australian exploitation) film’s impact on popular culture was beyond significant and caused an incendiary shift in the expectations of action films. Never before were such high-risk stunts displayed on screen, resulting in rumours ignited across seas claiming that stuntmen had actually died as a jealous attempt to discredit the film for pushing boundaries. Vehicular destruction and uproarious explosions, too, are handed out throughout the franchise like candy on Halloween night. If this alone wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll enough, let it be known that due to budgetary restrictions the vast majority of those working on the debut film were simply paid in flats of beer. Cinematic universe aside, the aesthetic of the Mad Max franchise in and of itself became iconic and influential. Blending hockey and football equipment along with the leather and chains of sadomasochism sex gear created the post-apocalyptic visual universally accepted today.
Inspired by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, George Miller was always a firm believer in visual storytelling. His goal as a filmmaker was to create movies that could be shown anywhere around the world without the use of subtitles. Because of this, all four films rely very little on dialogue – undoubtedly adding a sense of realism to the idea of solitary confinement within the Australian dystopia. With over three decades between the release of Mad Max and the latest installation, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the visuals presented have become nearly unfathomable. Contrasting the 150 million dollar budget to the 350 thousand granted with the first film of the series, having the means to fully bring the desired imaginings to fruition resulted in complete sensory overload.
Genre fans have a tendency to be more loyal than most, often meeting sequels and reboots with a pinch of hesitation. It is an unnecessary worry in this case. All four films harness what is to be loved about them – dangerous villains, leather-clad heroes, vehicular violence, and innumerable explosions.
Catch Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior on December 8, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max: Fury Road December 9 at The Globe Cinema.Globe, Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Quadrilogy, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max: Fury Road December, post-apocalyptica, The Globe Cinema