With "Mad Max: Fury Road" currently in theaters and earning mostly high praise form critics and fans, it's interesting to look back at the iconic post-apocalyptic film series, and examine some of its more interesting moments. It's also a good time to look at how the "Mad Max" movies affected popular culture, and to explore the background of some of their more famous moments.
First, it's important to consider just how original the "Mad Max" series was, because that's when it becomes obvious just how groundbreaking and influential the film series is to this day. "The Road Warrior" in particular is still referenced in everything from film design and video games to fashion, and many other things that borrowed heavily from that film's visual style. Let's take a look at some of the interesting things about the "Mad Max" series.
5. The "Mad Max" Films Created a New Genre
The idea of survivors battling over resources in a barren wasteland, using their vehicles as war machines has been used so often at this point that many people might take the concept for granted, but it really all started with "The Road Warrior." There had been previous films exploring the idea, such as "A Boy And His Dog," but the elements that resulted in the "Mad Max" films being as influential as they were hadn't been done the same way before.
The success of "The Road Warrior" film spawned countless imitators, and in the '80s, knock-offs from the United States and other countries played at drive-ins and littered late night cable television. Like other previously imitated film genres such as slasher films, the huge success of The Road Warrior "inspired" many low budget and exploitation film makers to get a few beat up cars and dirt bikes, dress their actors in armor and rags, and film their own desert epics, hoping to cash in on the trend. Most of those copycat movies are laughable, and few are "good," but some are still fun. They all owe "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior" for their existence, and tend to make the series they ripped off look even better by comparison.
4. The "Mad Max" Films Inspired a Lot More Than Copycat Films
The tricked out cars and imaginative costumes of the film series had a huge effect on other types of media outside of movies. In their biography "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band," Motley Crüe revealed that their original "Shout at the Devil" era image had been heavily influenced by the costumes in "The Road Warrior." Blackie Lawless from the heavy metal group WASP has also gone on the record as saying that his band's '80s look was lifted from that film, and there were countless others who clearly had seen it when they were planning their band's wardrobe or music videos. The appeal is obvious, as it is visually dramatic, and could be cobbled together on a tight budget. Watching old music videos from the 1980s, one can easily see how everyone from Helix to Scandal was appropriating style tips from "The Road Warrior," which had debuted in 1981, just in time for the music video revolution. Duran Duran's video for "Wild Boys" looks like it could've been a deleted scene from one of the "Mad Max" films, and shows just how pervasive style elements from those movies became. Probably the only other iconic visual style stolen as often during the same period was H.R. Giger's work on "Alien."