I love Mad Max 2. It is one of the best movies ever made, and was revelatory to me when I first watched it one sunny summer afternoon 26 years ago. George Miller is a hero to me, having directed one of the most stunning action movies of all time. I have a VHS copy of The New Barbarians, Exterminators of the Year 3000 and She (starring Sandahl Bergman). I have watched Endgame, Bronx Warriors and The Atlantis Interceptors.
You get the idea – not only am I a sucker for truly awesome post-apocalyptic movies, but I am a sucker for the rash of Italian exploitation copies that proliferated in the wake of George Millers Australian after-the-bomb nightmare. After watching Mad Max 2 many many times in 1983, I was inspired to create my own version of post-apocalyptic fiction, as a comic strip, on reams of A4 paper and illustrated in black biro. ‘Uruz’, as the comic was known, was the adventures of the titular hero as he wandered a bleak post-apocalyptic desert. Saving people. Killing baddies. In a desert, full of big customised cars etc.
It was with great delight that a few months ago I learned of a new title, ‘Dead Run’, from Boom!, that seemed to be a cross between Mad Max 2 and Roger Zelazny’s short story, ‘Damnation Alley’. After reading the first issue, I can confirm that it is a cross between the aforementioned works, with a dash of Judge Dredd epic ‘The Cursed Earth’ (which itself borrowed heavily from the Zelazny novel) and, more interestingly, the Italian expolitation films previously referred to, with a splash of Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. Now, that might seem like a lot of references for a 22 page comic, but its all there;
Bad guys in outlandish biker costumes and outlandish weapons? Thats the Mad Max 2 / Italian exploitation films influence.
One guy delivering a package across a ravaged and extremely dangerous post nuclear landscape? Thats ‘Damnation Alley’ and ‘The Cursed Earth’ influence right there.
The guy undertaking the journey is joined by a young girl with attitude, who he initially is reluctant to allow travel with him? That’ll be Spacehunter (and it’s a great film – it has Michael Ironside in it, so need I say more?)
The dialogue. well, the dialogue is cheesy in the extreme. But I get it. I do. This is the homage to the cliche ridden nonsense that you would expect to hear in the likes of ‘Exterminators of the Year 3000’. The main man, Nick Masters, is a tough talking, no nonsense sort of guy, where lines like;
“Over my dead and rotting corpse. Nobody drives my ride but me.”
are delivered in plentiful supply. This sort of generic action-flick dialogue does not detract from the experience. Rather, it adds to it. Like a print version of an Italian post-nuke flick from the 1980s. Nothing wrong with that. The plot is as simple as this:
Nick Masters is a ‘courier’ – he delivers whatever, wherever in this dangerous new world. He lost a drug consignment that belonged to a ‘Mr Big’ called Kane (well what did you expect – Gerald? Kevin?). Kane has kidnapped Masters Sister, and in order to get her back safe, has to make a ‘Dead Run’, with a consignment of whatever it is that Kane wants him to courier. Joined by a girl whose Father was a courier who made the ‘dead run’, they set off. Thats it in a nutshell. Channeling all that is good and daft about the genre, ‘Dead Run’ holds a lot of promise for its limited life (its due a 5 issue *ahem* run).
IMDB entry for Mad Max 2
IMDB entry for Spacehunter
IMDB entry for The New Barbarians
IMDB entry for Exterminators of the Year 3000
Damnation Alley at Wikipedia
2000AD org info on Judge Dredd epic ‘The Cursed Earth’