Cult Movie Essentials

Cult Movie Essentials: Mad Max (1979)

In 1979, in a small corner of Australia, cinema history was made when the world first met “Mad” Max Rockatansky (played by Mel Gibson). Max’s world, which is “a few years from now,” is a bleak desolate dystopian future was created by director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy.

As the film begins we meet an evil motorbike gang member called Crawford “Nightrider” Montazano (Vincent Gil) who is in the process of stealing a Pursuit Special, which he uses to escape from police custody after killing a rookie officer of an Australian highway patrol called the Main Force Patrol (MFP). Whilst other MFP officers fail to catch up to him one of them, Max, is not so easily lost in a chase. Crawford tries to allude Max but swerves of and is killed in a car crash fireball along with his girlfriend.

In the mean time, Nightrider’s motorbike gang, led by Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and Bubba Zanetti (Geoff Parry), bully a local town by vandalising property, stealing fuel, and terrorising those who live there. We witness them trap a young couple in a car, destroy the car, and do horrendous things to the couple including rape. Max and fellow officer Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) arrest Toecutter’s young protégé Johnny the Boy (Tim Burns) at the scene. When neither the rape victims nor any of the townspeople show for Johnny’s trial, the federal courts close the case, Johnny’s attorneys releasing him into Bubba’s custody over Goose’s furious objections.

While Goose visits a nightclub in the city the next day, Johnny sabotages his police motorbike in the parking lot. After being thrown into a field at high speed uninjured during a ride, Goose attempts to haul his damaged bike back to the MFP by using a Ute truck. However, Johnny ambushes Goose off the road by throwing a drum brake through his windshield, and, at Toecutter’s insistence, throws a match into the wreck of the truck, igniting the gasoline and burning Goose alive. After seeing Goose’s charred body in a hospital intensive-care unit, Max becomes disillusioned with the MFP, and informs his superior Fifi Macaffee (Roger Ward) that he will resign. Fifi convinces Max to take a vacation first before he submits his final letter of resignation.

Max takes his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and their infant son Sprog (Brendan Heath) on vacation in a panel van. When they stop to fix the spare tire, Jessie takes Sprog to buy ice cream. They encounter Toecutter and his gang, who attempts to molest Jessie, but Jessie kicks Toecutter in the crotch, picks up Max and they escape in the car. They flee to a remote farm owned by an elderly friend named May Swaisey (Sheila Florance). Toecutter’s gang follows them there and ambushes Jessie in the woods. With May’s help, Jessie and Sprog escape, but when they try to drive away, the van overheats. Jessie and Sprog try to run away down the motorway but are run over by the motorcycle gang. Sprog is killed and Jessie is badly injured. Max arrives too late to do anything. Now Max is MAD…

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