Waaaaay Nerdy Stuff About "Mad Max: Fury Road" That I Haven't Seen Discussed a Lot
Because I have small children and a wife who hates violent movies, I didn't get to see "Mad Max" while everyone was flipping out about it. I saw it last weekend and was shocked that it exceeded the hype for me! Part of the reason are these super-nerdy references/ "homage" points that I haven't seen discussed much elsewhere.***
- •The movie has the same template as a 1981 "spaghetti western" called "Comin' At Ya!" Like "Mad Max," CAY! was shot in 3D, and concerns a group of "brides" (who are really just sex slaves) in tattered, white dresses being chased through the desert, along with our antihero lead. (In CAY!, the antihero is the film's director/star, Tony Anthony.)On top of that, CAY! is basically a remake of a 1971 film starring Anthony (and Ringo Starr!) - "Blindman." That ALSO uses the group-of-brides-smuggled-through-the-desert plot. These are obscure, difficult-to-see movies, so it may seem unlikely that Miller is paying homage. But he has described "Fury Road" as "a Western on wheels." And the first shot of Furiosa with the brides in the desert sand was SO "Comin' At Ya!" that I almost applauded. (I'm easily excited by stuff like that.)
- •One of the cars in "Fury Road" looks just like the cars from an early movie by Peter Weir, entitled "The Cars That Ate Paris" (1974). Weir started out directing in Australia (as a contemporary of Miller's) before going on to "Dead Poets Society," "Truman Show," etc.I've always had a fascination with "Cars That Ate Paris" (which I saw at age 19 under its American - and even better - title, "The Cars That Eat People"). The cars are "vampires," with a hypodermic needle that pops out from the gas pedal into your foot, draining your blood. Here's an image of Weir's car next to the "Fury Road" car. When that came roaring onto the screen, I really had to restrain myself from punching the stranger next to me on the arm real hard.
- •The whole thing is just basically "Brendan McCarthy: The Movie!"McCarthy cowrote the script and designed the costumes, cars, everything. He's a British illustrator whose comic books first gouged my eyeballs in eighth grade. His stuff always disturbed and amazed me; it's very, very 1980s neon/ junk/ apocalyptic aesthetic. Thankfully, I HAVE seen McCarthy get plenty of attention for his amazing "Fury Road" work. I just couldn't believe I was watching one of his weirdo comics come to life.
- •Charlize Theron reminded me of Tura Satana!If you want to talk about female action leads killing it in the desert - who TRULY do not give a fuck - you've got to bow down to the unholy trio of women who star in Russ Meyer's 1965 classic, "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" Someday, scholars will look back and acknowledge that - for good AND bad - "Pussycat" is the wellspring of most 21st century cinema. But especially "Fury Road."
- •*** By the way: If I'm wrong and you've read a great article about these (or other equally nerdy) connections, please pass along a link in the comments section. Or if there's other homage stuff I missed!