EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: WHITE LINE NIGHTMARES

I was in study hall reading an issue of Fangoria. Back in the ’80s, the magazine was relevant, and the best-of issues were a treat. I was devouring one of these issues when I came across an article about a movie that wasn’t a horror film, but sounded like something I needed to see nonetheless. That movie was “The Road Warrior,” and the article made it seem like an incredible film.

I hunted down a copy of the movie and was blown away by what I saw on my television screen. There were some grimace-inducing moments, but overall the movie was spectacular. It grabbed you right from the start and never really let go. The first part of the trilogy, “Mad Max,” was pretty decent, too. The third part should have never been made. It was the second part, though, that really went the extra mile. It was just so … amazing.

The V8 Interceptor. The Humungus. That final tanker scene. The Feral Kid and his deadly boomerang. Stunt work that looked like it left at least fourteen stuntmen dead or severely injured (this in the time before computers did special effects). The movie had everything a genre film fan could hope for in a flick.

The movie inspired me to play Car Wars (a game of auto combat obviously influenced by the movie). It also prompted me to “borrow” a bunch of rental bikes from where I worked and beat the hell out of them and my friends as we engaged in “The Bike Warriors.” (I remember riding over my friend’s arm as he lay on the ground after I knocked him off his bike. I swore I broke his limb, but it only ended up having this weird lump on it for a few weeks.) Despite my love for the movie, however, I never owned it until just recently.

I purchased the DVD when the store I went to was out of copies of “Bloodsucking Freaks.” I hadn’t seen the movie in years, but had been thinking about how much I missed Max and his mad adventures. I was wondering if it held up to the test of time.

It did. Boy, did it.

They don’t really make movies like this anymore. They may remake them, but directors just aren’t pumping out stuff like “The Road Warrior.” Instead, we get The Fast and the Furious, and we’re supposed to be grateful. Puppy shit. “The Road Warrior” annihilates that film. Itâ’s fast and furious, and it isn’t Hollywood pretty. Granted, the third movie killed the franchise (though there have been rumors of a fourth film for years), but that second part of the trilogy is a classic, and it always will be because of its style and story.

There is something about a desolate future where wars for fuel are waged at the whims of a mad leader who chokes on pretzels.

Sorry. That was another column.

There is something about a desolate future where battles are waged for fuel. There is something about men in fast cars brandishing improvised weapons. There is something about homoerotic villains and steel hockey masks. There is something about all of it that makes “The Road Warrior” the ultimate car crash film.

“The Road Warrior” is a samurai/cowboy movie with crossbows and dune buggies. It is man at his worst … and not much else. Hope is in a gas tank rigged to explode, and fear is in the rearview mirror, but for some reason studios have kept away from this sort of film as of late. Perhaps Mandy Moore doesn’t want to swallow dust in the Outback (there are much better things to swallow, I imagine). Maybe they think fifteen-year-old males don’t want to see cars slam into motorcycles at ninety miles per hour. That’s why we get The Haunted Mansion.

I’m not going to complain too much, though. Chances are that any movie made to emulate “The Road Warrior” would suck as bad as that third film whose title shall never be uttered again. No, you can’t top a classic … but I wish someone would try.

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Posted on March 22, 2004 in Features by

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