Crazy gonzo revenge exploitation movie MAD MAX was Director George Miller's 1979 debut that spawned a multi-film franchise and propelled Mel Gibson to Hollywood stardom. Inspired by real-life fuel pump shortages and outbreaks of civil disobedience during the global oil crisis in the 70's, Miller conjured up a grim vision of civilisation on the edge of apocalypse, with the fabric of society collapsing and morality correspondingly decaying. A world where murderous gangs of highway roaming bikers led by villains named Toecutter terrorize rural communities, with only the under-funded Main Force Patrol around to uphold the law, and a place where hotshot cop Max Rockatansky (Gibson) will eventually set out to exact a very personal revenge.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to think of Australia as a barren, irradiated wasteland but that's not where Miller's genius and ingenuity ends as he conjures up an inventive world - ripe for expansion as further instalments of the franchise will prove - and spectacular stunts which imbue the film with a constant sense of motion and pushed the envelope of guerrilla action film-making. Though time leaves the original MAD MAX feeling a little crude and raw in comparison to its bigger budget sequels, this is still an exciting and often intense slice of genre film making which makes for continuing compelling viewing.
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Sidey: It's all about the maxes this
Reegs: week. Yeah.
Sidey: Kicking off, I think in the logical place with Mad Max 1979. One year after I was born.
Sidey: Which is not interesting. These are all on prime, so that was like completely by chance. No.
Reegs: yeah. The whole series are, I wish I had time to watch all of them. Was this the first time you'd seen
Sidey: Right. So going into it, I was like, I've seen this before. I would've sworn. And I'm still like pretty certain I had seen it, but I couldn't remember anything when I was watching it. I was like, don't remember that. Don't remember any of this. Yeah. Don't, so it
Reegs: don't, don't remember that. It sets up the premise of the film saw right at the very end.
Sidey: Yeah. It felt like I was watching it for the first time, so let's just say that it was
Reegs: yeah. Yeah. This was maybe the second or third time I watched it and I had the same sort of experience, like, oh yeah. Right. It's a crazy seventies. Yeah. Like exploitation, revenge movie. Do, how, how do I not remember that?
But yeah, mad Max, So this is director George Miller's debut. And the backstory that gets filled in later in all that other stuff is not really there in, in this movie.
We, we get the title of a few years from.
Reegs: and uh, it's not kind of post apocalypses as it's, as you sort of expect from the Mad Max franchise. It's sort of may just before or as the apocalypses happening the fabric of society and its infrastructure is starting to collapse. You know, it's a place in Australia where.
Gangs roam the highways and small towns, and they cruise from place to place, bent on destruction and rape and all that stuff. But yet they still report it on the news. And it's also on the, you know, the news as all goes. So the world isn't quite a lawless, irradiated wasteland, but it's on its way.
Sidey: They've got a remnants of a police force. Yes. The M F P.
Reegs: The Main Force patrol side.
And they're, they're basically almost as homicidal as the gangs that they chase and they're tasked with trying to impose some kind of law in this outback.
Sidey: Yeah. We we're thrown into some action pretty much straight away with the night,
Reegs: the night rider.
Yeah. So it's like this furious chase sequence. Like there's several spectacular car crashes and wrecks. There's like one that goes straight through a caravan, I think like strongly reminiscent of stuff that you see on top gear about 20 years later with them
Sidey: not as good
Reegs: not, not as good. And yeah, it's the, the night rider.
He what does he say about himself? He calls himself the suicide machine or something. It's amazing. The fuel injected suicide machine. That's what he calls himself. And it, yeah. So he, he comes out and causes load of carnage.
Sidey: Well he's, he kills one of the MFPs and steal his, steals his wagon cuz he's, they're part of a, a motorcycle gang, like a Hell's Angel kind of proxy, I guess.
Yeah. Yeah. And so, yeah, he's going down the road with his lady in the passenger seat just screaming constantly and like a rampage. Yeah. He's, he's like fucking lost the plot.
Reegs: And they send out the top guy, which is Max Roski. That's Mel Gibson.
Sidey: I've had another Cism on this. . Oh, right. I thought Mel Gibson played Mad Max.
When did he?
Reegs: very young in
Sidey: was like, that is him. It's like, get the fuck
Reegs: out . Yeah, yeah,
Reegs: He makes his badass credentials known by immediately playing chicken with a guy. He's, they're in these bright yellow and blue, 1976 Ford Falcon XB side.
And he runs him off the road into the night rider, into a load of crash cars. I don't think it was Michael Knight.
Sidey: No. No
Reegs: night rider.
Sidey: No. His hair wasn't as good.
Reegs: It's a really funny joke. In the next scene where we see Max at. With his son named Sprague and he's drinking a beer and there's like sexy saxophone music of the type that might be in the seventies music where somebody's like thinking about what might just have happened and then they cut and it's his wife playing the
I did all of that actually
Reegs: And they play happy families and she's grumpy when he has to go back to work and he grabs this Halloween ghoul mask and they do this sign language. I'm crazy about you type thing.
Sidey: that's right. But he is fairly disgruntled about the whole police business. It's sort of reached. at the end of its life for him. He's not that into it. It's just a endless catalog of, you know, chasing bad guys and misery and crashes and stuff. Yeah. So he's kind of had his, his his fill of that, but they kind of bribe him or coerced him into staying by giving him a, the latest, souped up new wagon.
And he's stole, he's into it.
Reegs: And it is a crazy machine as well, and it is his iconic car that you see throughout the rest of the series.
A 1973 Ford Falcon, XB, G T
Sidey: Great stat. It looks, I thought it looked, actually looked like a fi a pon out Firebird. But no, this is, like you say, it's the Ford.
Reegs: it's, I'm not a car guy, so I know it's got a bit of like an extra thing that comes out of the , the top
Sidey: and it goes, yeah, it makes
Reegs: noise. Say it goes 600 horsepower and it's got turbo and all that.
Anyway, there's a series of attacks and wreckx and stuff that occur and at one of them, the police chief, a guy called Fifi Mcfe Fifi McAffee, he's like a
Sidey: ferocious He invented the antivirus
Reegs: Yeah. . That's the guy. Yeah. He's a cigar chomping, bald-headed mustachio guy who's later gonna turn up wearing only a scarf.
For some reason,
Sidey: I thought he was the strong man character from Raiders of the Lost a who gets shredded by the Propel. He looked like just like
Reegs: it. Yeah. Yeah, he does. So yeah, he warns them that the rest of the night rider gang are gonna come after him. And indeed that's what we do see next. Maybe 20 of them revving their engines and scaring up a little town.
Led with by a real nasty piece of work with a flair for the theatrics called toe cutter.
we're gonna see him later on. This franchise?
Reegs: Yes. We.
Sidey: Mm. But yeah, he's got like a Kevin Peterson style raccoon hair, hair, like hair thing going on where, yeah, it's dark hair, but just a, like a, like a poodle, quiff sort of thing going on of blonde and his really creepy looking sidekick what was his name?
Reegs: Oh what is that Johnny The Boy
Sidey: Johnny Boy is the, the Johnny the boy is the crazy one who gets who gets let off. Yeah. For being crazy.
Reegs: Bubba Z. Etti. Yeah. The blonde hair
Sidey: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Used to play Forton Milan. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. He was Toko a second in command. He was, he looked like a villain. He was like creepy. I didn't like him at all.
Reegs: Their plan is sort of to harass the locals and get the cops to su to show up so they can start a war with them.
And they've gone to repatriate the body of night rider who's turning up on a train and tow cutter grabs the station master's face and he says, remember him when you look at the night sky. That's great. It's great. And then there's a couple of hippies. They're like making out in a car or something.
Sidey: Yeah. Quite often it, it happens quite a few times at the start of the film. You see them getting off each other.
Yeah. One of 'em, one of 'em. Perving at them with some binoculars at the start. Yeah.
Reegs: And they end up being terrorized and chased down and they smash the car while they're in there. And then there's a cut later when the police turn up.
You see the boyfriend running away from the naked, from the waist down. Like he'd been raped as well.
Sidey: Yeah. I think the implication was they'd, they'd raped both of
Reegs: Yeah. And the girls got a chain around her and she's been raped. And then there's a member of the gang, Johnny, the boy that we were talking about before, just sort of gibbering away out of his mind in the wreckage.
Cuz he's high on all sorts of
Sidey: goofballs. Goofballs. Yeah.
Reegs: So they bring him back to the halls of justice, which they operate out of the, that is literally what it's called. It's amazing. And it looks like a sort of abandoned asylum
Sidey: almost. Yeah. Like a cemetery gates on it. Yeah.
Reegs: yeah. And he's holding in front of a judge, almost sort of ju judge dread style.
This like instant justice. Except it can't be because there were no witnesses. The townspeople, I guess, in fear don't turn up to testify and something or other. And Goose loses it at this point because Johnny's gonna get away. Scott free.
And he does and goose like beats him. But yeah, eventually Johnny, the boy's gone.
Sidey: Yeah. Don't they do something to his,
to Goose's bike. Yeah.
Reegs: So there's a scene where they're on the beach and he's shooting a mannequin and he's trying to stir up aggression against the bronze. That's what they call them, the M F P. And then, yeah, after that, Johnny the Boy, you see him going away as goose goes off for like four minutes of cabaret for some reason.
And then when he comes back, he gets on his bike and then he does, he burns it off down the highway and as he's going, the rear wheel locks up and he just goes thrown through the air. It's an incredible stunt. But yeah, he sort of walks it off pretty much. And then commander's a, a van and he's driving that back.
And then another great sequence where you see the guy just lob, I'm not even sure what it was. A tire or something?
Sidey: Some like spare wheel or something through his window. Yeah. Or through the roof or something. And then he, yeah, he crashes. And they, they burn him. They do,
Reegs: They burn him alive.
Horrendous toe cutter forces Johnny the boy to do it. Yeah. max turns up at the hospital now to see Goose. He's heard what's happened and he sees, first he sees like his charred hand
Sidey: Yes, Megan.
Reegs: and then he peels away the blanket. You don't get to see what he looks like, but there's like a cool like ching like fractal shot where Max's psyche is breaking.
Sidey: Yeah. He loses it. He's it's a suboptimal day for him
Reegs: and he, when he walks out, he says, that thing in there is not goose.
Sidey: That's right. Yeah.
Reegs: that's when he's disillusioned and he decides to quit. And his boss is only wearing a scarf for some reason.
Sidey: Does, he quit the force completely there and
Reegs: in the Yeah, I think so. Yeah. He hands in his notice and they go on holiday. It's all lovey dovey and more saxophone and um,
Reegs: There's running through the fields and swinging into lakes and frolicking, but it can't last
Sidey: No, it wouldn't, it wouldn't be a great end to the movie.
Reegs: No. And first of all, they have to go and get a tire, don't they? And while they're waiting, while he's waiting to get a tire at the gas station, Sprague and Jesse, his wife, go down to go and get an ice
Sidey: Ill advised.
Reegs: Mm-hmm. And would you, wouldn't you believe it, but toe cutter and the gang are there.
Yeah. and they sort of stalk her. One of them is like climbing on the roof and pretending to be a cat. You see that Anyway, they are, they sort of chase, they, they sort of sh they'd go to intimidate her, but she knees toe cutter in the bocks and they get away and they retreat back to the farm where they're staying.
Reegs: And I think really rather Ill advise pretty soon Jessie decides to go for a little swim at the beach, Yeah.
Sidey: yeah, you just, you just hunker down and just Yeah. Stay safe at
Reegs: doesn't. And then there's a scene where you think she's being watched, but it's actually by the, the farm hand. But when she does get back, she's all like panicking and Max runs out into the forest to look for this assailant with his gun.
This was a harrowing, harrowing scene. She sits down, it's a moment of calm after all this stuff like dodging and is who's watching her and all this stuff, and then suddenly she. Where's the kid? Yeah. And she runs out and it, like, the kid is not, there's the shot of like the empty blanket and you're like, as a parent watching, you're like, oh my
Reegs: And yeah. Toe cutter and the gang have got the kid.
It is fucking Barron. And worst to come as well. . Yeah. It's fucking bleak. Because everyone dies.
Yeah. pretty much,
Reegs: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they do manage to kind of get away and there's an old woman with a shotgun who helps them, but yeah, they get eventually, yeah. run down,
Sidey: get mowed down on the roads like it's horrendous.
Reegs: It is
Sidey: horrendous. It's absolutely horrendous.
Reegs: And Max turns up just as you know, just in time to kind of see the aftermath, but not do anything about it. And there's a great like, no. Then the next scene is his wife in hospital. She's lost an arm. The kid is callously written off as DOA by a single line of dialogue from a
Sidey: yeah, they did just kind of brush that away. But that then, I don't think the.
She dies, doesn't she? She dies as well. Well,
Reegs: no, she's still
Sidey: She's still alive, but not expected to survive.
Reegs: Well, that is kind of the ipl. Well, she's had massive trauma, but he doesn't care. He's just
Sidey: the kids don't, so that's enough. That's enough, yeah. Enough motivation to go on a rampage.
Reegs: Yeah. And he gets all geared up in his police ship
Sidey: where goes on his mission to, to do what needs to be
Sidey: But he's but he, he, he kind of drives a load of the bike cuz they're all bikers aren't they? He drives, load 'em off a, off a bridge. And we get down to like the, the, the top brass of the, of the gang. But he walks
Reegs: Oh, we get a pretty spectacular for the time thing of them because the the, you start to see the genesis of some of the ideas of like fuel shortages in
Sidey: the world.
Reegs: and they pole vault onto a moving,
Sidey: that cuz I.
I watched them the wrong way round, if you like. All right. So I, and I was thinking, God, this is nothing like Fury Road. And then you see that guy pole vault onto and he is like, oh, there you go. There's, there's like a definite, you know, nod to what was about to
Reegs: I did it the other way around. Way around. And I would strongly recommend doing that
Sidey: cause Okay. It was,
Reegs: it was, yeah. So yeah, they siphon off some fuel and whatever. Yeah. And there's more chicken and people falling off bridges and shots of people's eyeballs as they crash into stuff.
Sidey: Yeah, we get a few good ones. Then night the night.
He does it and then we get one. Right. The, the culmination of everything, it's fucking really, really good. But at this point max, in his rage, he falls for a really basic trap, if you ask me. Yeah. Of one of the guys has appears to have crashed his bike. He's prone, like lying on the, off, off the side of the road in certain, like some field it doesn't quite know whether to believe it or not, but mistakenly like just
Reegs: He's still almost a cop.
Sidey: Yeah, he's sort of procedural, but it, it is a fucking like, complete trap. And he gets shot. Mm-hmm. from fucking miles away. Yeah. I think it's Toko like shooting, basically kneecaps him and he's fucking out. And then Javier Antti gets on his bike and he's gonna mow him down, but he just manages to reach his son off.
Reegs: Well he runs over his
Sidey: He does get him, he does get the arm first, but then as he comes back with a kill shot.
Max gets to sort off and is able to like gun him down. Almost like point blank at that point. Yeah. So
Reegs: and they're great stunts cuz you see people like being thrown off bikes and all sorts of stuff. Yeah, there's a, there's a shot where we didn't talk about it earlier, where, where he is going through the biker gang and there's like a big pile up and you see the, a bike just bounce off a guy's head.
Sidey: Yeah, I was wondering if that was, cuz that would cause some damage, right?
Reegs: no faking that.
Sidey: No, I was thinking, God, that.
There must have been some form filling out after that. Cause health and safety, that was pretty fucking
Reegs: we can talk a little bit about some of that
Sidey: Okay, cool. So it gets down to Mr. Z's gone, so it's just to Cutter and Johnny the Boy left, isn't it? and
to Cutter goes first.
Reegs: is it to Cutter who gets driven into the
Sidey: truck. He goes first. He just, it's just.
bombing it down the road at like a gajillion miles an hour, and it's another one of these scenes. , you get the cut like an extreme closeup of his face with his eyeballs, almost like they get about to burst out his
Reegs: Like total recall
Yeah, exactly like that. Yeah. And then a fucking immense shot of his bike just hitting this fucking big rig, you know? Yeah. Like huge Lori and just fucking smash. And this, I'm assuming it wasn't a real human, but like some dummy that goes under the wheels. It's fucking brilliantly done. I mean, it's awesome.
Reegs: Yeah, it is really good.
Sidey: That guy was just some trucker. They paid 50 bucks to like drive his Laurie into a remote
Reegs: Amazing. Amazing. Just drive your Laure into that. Brilliant. And so then after this, we are now only about six or seven minutes from the end because after that he finds Johnny the boy at the scene of a crash, and Johnny the boy, is he's saying, oh, I found this guy like this.
So he's just stealing his shoes. But anyway, he. Max forces himself to leg cuff him to the, for frame of the car. And then he rigs up this device, I dunno what it is but it's to delay the car exploding. And he gives him a hacksaw. And the choice of like, you've got, you know, you can either try and do the handcuffs, it's gonna take you 10 minutes or your leg, it's gonna take you five minutes.
Sidey: It basically pours fuel into a smashed up. headlight.
I saw that. But then he's making a fuse or something. How did he make the
Sidey: it's, it's gonna pour, it's when that fills, it's gonna, the fuel is gonna pour down this think it was the, the the upturned bumper. And it's gonna, that's going to pour down to where he's left the zippo lighter lit at the bottom.
And that's, that's gonna cause it all to detonate. And he says you've got 10 minutes to, you can 10 minutes. It
probably cost. Says it'll probably take you about 10 minutes to hack store through. Metal frame or five minutes to go through your ankle. Or you just fucking sit here and blow up. And the guy, oh fuck.
So like you say, yeah, it's a, it's a precaster to goos like, , hostile and sore and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, it's fucking grim.
Reegs: And that is pretty much the end of the movie. Walks off, leaves the guy uh, I mean as soon as he gets to the top of the hill, the car blows up anyway, so , yeah. And Max drives off into a dark gray sky amidst a moody score, and that's the end of the movie. And he never had bothered to check on his wife again.
Sidey: No. She was a write off, I think. He was just in full vigilante mode after that. There's no room for, for love affairs. You.
Reegs: Yeah. So what did you think?
took me a little while to get into it cuz I had just watched Fury Road.
And so like resay back to the start, excuse me. I'm not gonna say it looks primitive, doesn't it? Primitive, but it, it is, it is a good step back in time. You know what I mean?
Reegs: Oh, it's 70 same year as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and stuff like that. And it is definitely a product of its time and
It's a, it is like really, really, it's impressive still. Like the crashes, the head on collision and stuff like that look really good. Some great stunts and some of it you can tell people probably got hurt doing some of these stunts, so we can talk about that. But there was quite a lot of stuff. There's, there were quite a few scenes of Chases where it was just like on press fast forward, you know what I mean?
Where you could tell it was just like that, that bit of footage sped up a bit. It, which was fine. Didn't really take me outta the movies. Yeah, I mean, it was fucking cool as
Reegs: I think just gives that sense of momentum, speed, cuz he does that sort of frame rate shit as well in fury Road too. But
Sidey: No, I really enjoyed it.
Reegs: good. Yeah. Yeah. I, this is great. And definitely the way I really wish I'd got the chance to watch them all in order, but I watched this and then I watched Fury Road afterwards and you can see so many ideas between the two of them.
That's great. And you know, Just in interestingly interesting sort of culturally, because it was in the seventies, you know, global warming and climate change and the stuff that it's sort of talking about and the global oil crisis that inspired the idea behind it was not stuff that was really in the public consciousness.
So, you know, that sort of environmental theme that carries on throughout. It's pretty cool and it looks crazy, and it was really dangerous. It took them six weeks to shoot. They closed loads of roads when they just didn't have the permits and
Yeah. . They were having to sweep up the roads afterwards and it was all, it's like gorilla filmmaking, which I would love. Yeah, it's cool. Yeah, so
Reegs: it's a wonder that no more people didn't die. Rose Bailey was an actress who was initially cast as the wife, Jessie, but she was involved in an accident four days into filming, and she was unable to complete the film. But she was, she did continue to her acting career and all that.
She was all right. But yeah. Really good. This great. I enjoyed it.
Sidey: Yeah. I was looking at the, the money side of it, and so the budget was 300,000 us, which adjusting for inflation is like north of a million. So not a huge amount of money, but not
Reegs: well it was edited in his friend's apartment on a homemade rig, that thing he had, you know, so it was all pretty low budget.
Sidey: And he, but he pulled the money together by working in a hospital emergency room. But I was thinking, well, yeah, but it's still like a million. It's like quite often working in a Yeah, he must have been doing all right. And he was inspired by seeing all these injuries and stuff in the emergency room for making this industry.
lovely. Horrid. Yeah. lot of the extras were paid in beer, which kept the, the budget down,
Reegs: Yeah. And they were members of an outlawed biker gang as well. Yeah. And he got them to drive from Sydney to Melbourne cause he couldn't fly them there, so they went on their bikes
Sidey: I read that a lot of them had to turn up in, you know, in their costumes or whatever.
So they were driving. . There was a joke in, well there's this line in the film about having a g a jail free card, which was a joke because all the bikers had letters from the production team. Oh right. In case they got pulled over cuz they were driving in these fucking like crazy gaps with like prop bikes and prop guns
Reegs: on them.
Sidey: yeah, yeah.
So in case they must have got pulled over quite a lot and they had these get outta jail free card things. Yeah. So, yeah. Cool movie.
Reegs: But yeah, not, not universally loved. One Australian critic said it had all the emotional uplift of mine camp which is a horrible and Stephen King called it a Turkey.
The New York Times said it was ugly and incoherent. And then there's a really crazy fact about it, which is in America it was released red dubbed completely red dubbed with American references and American accents. So a lot of American. People who are, you know, our age would've never have seen this for a long time.
Un unless they'd seen it in dubbed Gibson version. Yeah.
Sidey: fucking crazy. Alright, well strong recommend from us though.
Reegs: Oh yeah, definitely.