Sunday, January 27, 2008

Road Warrior

This weekend was midnight movie weekend at Circle Cinema. I usually watch the film one time but I love the Road Warrior so much on Friday night, I decided to double up and watch it Saturday too. What can I say: I am a robot. Check out the special poster that was done by Dan and put up around Tulsa to promote the screening.

Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) is just a lean, mean and gritty story from director George Miller. The film, which has the low-budget feel of a western from the future, is set in an Australian wasteland, where gas is the most precious commodity of all. Its scarcity makes people desperate to protect it and murderous to attain it. A crazed group of killers in various vehicles with a fondness for mohawks, leather, raping and killing begin to siege a small band of holdouts at a frontier oil refinery.

Enter Max. Damaged loner in a hopped up V8 and trusty Australian Shepherd sidekick. Max of the few words (a young Mel Gibson channeling Clint Eastwood); Max of great driving skills on the empty roads. Max makes an agreement with the holdouts to help get them out of the area by taking on the over the top gang of bad-asses.

A few things really hit me as I watched this on successive nights. The first was the complete lack of CGI, and wow, was that refreshing. Made in 1981, the film was on the cusp of the over saturation of cheap looking CGI that may have looked good in 1987 but looks embarrassing now. Road Warrior has real cars ramming into one another on desolate highways, real stuntmen flying through the air or jumping from car to car, real explosions when the vehicles go careening off the edges of the road—I love it! Even today when the CGI looks much better than those early years, I’d still rather see “real” instead of “fake.”

Another thing that captivated me in the story was the head villain for the rogue gang that was terrorizing the refinery and anyone caught alone in the area. Known as “Lord Humungous,” he’s a massively built, barely clothed, bullet hording, hockey masked wearing villain shrouded in mystery. As I watched the film on Saturday all I wanted to know was, “Who is Lord Humungous?”

This much we know about Lord Humungous: he’s the survivor of some kind of face/skull damaging event because he wears a mask and his head, partly free of hair with long stringy bits, seems to throb when riled; he loves to rant over the loudspeaker to the holdouts, cajoling, threatening and offering promises the gang is unlikely to keep in a raspy, guttural voice; he also enjoys ranting at the campground during rainstorms while flexing the bulging biceps—the combination of bellowing and flexing seems to fire up the gang as they are always in a bloodthirsty rage when it comes to jumping in a car or on a motorcycle to take someone out on the highway; we know he’s very strong and intimidating within the gang as he’s the only one who can contain the mohawked Wez and that’s saying something as Wez is a complete psycho. I want to know more about Lord Humungous like what happened to him to make him into this damaged, muscle-bound, charismatic leader of this group of out of control killers? It will forever be a mystery I guess.

There are so many things to love about Road Warrior from the Feral Kid and his growling and boomerang; the desolate setting; the dark comedy between the car chases and crashes; the lack of CGI shite that would have surely ruined the film and its neo-western feel with cars instead of horses—Road Warrior is a bonafide classic and I’m tempted to go screen it by myself tonight and watch it three nights in a row.


Fritschie said...

Good point about Lord Humungous. I wonder if Mad Max has spawned any fan fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek has.

Then again, isn't it really better to have a shroud of mystery over the main bad guy? Case in point: are we truly happier now knowing what made Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side?

the hidden staircase said...

didn't he have feathers sprouting out??? LH i mean...i haven't seen this in forever...i watched originally on tv in the mid? 80s....oh....back when mel was good and not on some catholic minded mission/rampage...

my older brother got me into these first two movies...something about that post-apocalyptic (i like how you said 'future western'..) really hit home with me back then when reagan was reigning...

i love the feral kid's a little kid-beast...
wasn't this the one with the helicoptor?

Replicant said...

No feathers for Lord Humungous--his head was sort of shaved I guess, bald w/ long stringy bits; hockey mask and little leather shorts was his get up.

Yes, there was a gyrocopter--sort of like an ultralight.

Anonymous said...

We just got the double feature DVD with Beyond Thunderdome over here at our office. My buddy Max claims this movie as his favorite. He says that so much it's lost all meaning.

I TOTALLY agree with your point about CG and "real" vs. "fake." I'm a huge fan of stunts, pyrotechnics, and prosthetics.