In the near future, a highway patrolman (in a world in which cops are more or like mercenaries) is confronted to a vicious biker gang, terrorizing the roads, that wants to get to him because of an incident.

George Miller’s original Mad Max won the special jury prize at Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in 1980. Shot on a mere $350 000 budget, it made millions worldwide. A legend was born and it made young Mel Gibson a star. Like him or not, you could easily see he already had star power. Three cast members : Hugh Keays Byrne, Roger Ward and Vincent Gill , had previously appeared in the cult movie Stone (1974), an Ozploitation biker movie said to have inspired Miller.

With its bleak vision, frightening music by Brian May (not the Queen Guitarist), its fast paced camera movements by David Eggby’s team, its dangerous stunts (despite the shoe string budget) and the clever use of Radio transmissions (in the Australian version) to complete (again bypassing its budget limitation) the futuristic commentary (which is partly lost on the cheaply dubbed US prints), Mad Max is a classic.

“The Americans have a gun culture, We have a car culture said director, George Miller who described driving in Australia as a socially acceptable form of violence. Driving from this state of mind he and screenwriter James McCausland wrote the script assuming people would do anything to keep vehicles moving and that nations would not consider providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late”. Accordingly, McCausland drew from the 1973 oil crisis’ effects on Australians and ” the desperate measures individuals would take to ensure mobility, revealing the ferocity with which Australians would defend their right to fill a tank.

The film was condemned, upon release, by an Australian commentator saying it had “all the emotional uplift of Mein Kamf and would be “a special favorite of rapists, sadists and child murderers”

The rest, now with three sequels, is history.