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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

by on 2012/11/25

“You two ought to take a look in the mirror some time. No style. No taste.”

* * *

Watching The Road Warrior this week was a little like happening upon an 80s time capsule buried deep in the dusty ground.

I blew off the red-brown soot and found it was all in there. The big puffy head bands, side pony tails, the big white parachute pants.

Let’s not forget the strange over-abundance of white-yellow peroxide hair. The pastel scarves, and of course, the feral child (Emil Minty) with Bon Jovi’s hair.

Oh yes, the teeth. Can’t forget that. It was the big book of British colonial, pre-orthodontic teeth.

I was an edgy, poorly supervised pre-teen when I first clapped eyes on this filthy piece of dystopic brilliance written and directed by George Miller. It was a sleepover at my friend Maria’s house. Her parents didn’t much care what we did.

Most of the girls were horrified by the film. I was strangely impressed. In fact, I credit The Road Warrior for my interest in all things post-apocalyptic, a passion that continues to this day.

But just as the old saying goes, you can’t go home again. Or in this case, travel back in time.

First, back then, Mel Gibson used to be sort of er, likeable …um, as a human being. Not so much now. Now as I watch his character, the mostly silent Max Rockatansky, hunt for precious gasoline, I wonder what thoughts about women and certain religious groups are going on under that spiked hairdo.

And now I also wonder, why does Max have to encounter literally one of humanity’s most irritating persons in the middle of nowhere at the end of the world? I refer, of course, to Bruce Spence (The Dark City) as the Gyro Captain. Ok, ok, he’s awfully effective and he definitely underlines that this is no longer polite society (and that toothbrushes are in really short supply).

Wez, the motorcycle hooligan with the most is played by Vernon Wells (Commando). He is another powerful reminder that life is very different in the Outback. Maybe it was the mohawk, maybe it was the eyeliner and the over-plucked eyebrows, or maybe it was the boy on a leash on the back of his motorcycle. Wez is screaming, snarling, freaking unhinged. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say, this movie really wouldn’t work as well without him. He’s positively feral.

Finally, what is with the clothes worn by the whiny band of hippies who guard the oil refinery? Their first mistake was wearing white in the Outback I think. Led by Pappagallo (Mike Spence), the politics of the collective under siege seemed a bit dull and frankly irritating to my jaded, older eyes.

Fortunately, the car chases and quest to locate a Mack truck more than make up for the white-clad cultists screaming at one another as the pressure applied by the demonic criminal rock star The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) mounts.

This last nostalgic screening left me feeling that, like the 80s, the world of the The Road Warrior is a fun place to visit but I’m glad I don’t live there (any more).

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94 minutes

Rated R

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