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Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Another reason why Mel Gibson should quit while he’s ahead, franchise-wise. This is a poor follow-up to the previous two classics and a sadly unconvincing end to Gibson’s Mad Max celluloid career.

Civilisation is burned out, and so is Max. Looking like a long-haired beggar in a Cecil B. DeMille Biblical epic, he wanders into Bartertown looking for his stolen camel train.

Bartertown is a medieval jumble of pipes and tunnels in an old strip mine run by Tina Turner as Aunty Entity – a kind of jive-ass priestess of the camp who rules her slaves in a tight gown made of chicken wire and dog muzzles. When filming ended, one assumes she re-used her wardrobe in Vegas.


The town gets its energy from distilled pig manure, and to get his possessions back, Max must exchange 24 hours of his life and survive not only a dunk in the pig manure but a visit to the Thunderdome.

This is a caged circus arena in which two combatants settle their disputes and avoid wars by meeting hand-to-hand with spikes, chainsaws, and no rules, compered by an Australian Howard Cosell who shouts to the bloodthirsty crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dyin’ time is here!”

Narrowly escaping death at the four hands of something called the Master Blaster (Paul Larsson), Max is next rescued from a place of sandstorms and earthquakes called The Crack in the Earth by a desert tribe of feral warrior children descended from the survivors of a plane crash.

They all end up in a post-apocalyptic demolition derby, pursued by Tina Turner and the tattooed freaks of Bartertown, smashing planes, locomotives, motorcycles, and jeeps made of scrap metal and buggy wheels.

Of course, none of this makes any sense, so just sit back and enjoy looking at the pictures. Imagination is all that counts in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and there is plenty of it.

It’s a world unto itself, with its own laws (“Bust the deal, face the wheel!”) and its own philosophy (“Remember – no matter where you go, there you are”). The violence and horror and carnage are abundant (it’s pretty noisy, too) but it all finally becomes funny.

Acting is the last thing on anybody’s mind, but Mel Gibson gets through it without smiling, and Tina Turner, as the barbaric queen of Bartertown, is Grace Jones with soul food.

Mel Gibson
Aunty Entity
Tina Turner
The Collector
Frank Thring
The Master
Angelo Rossitto
Savannah Nix
Helen Buday
Bruce Spence
Jedediah Jr
Adam Cockburn
The Blaster
Paul Larsson
Robert Grubb
Angry Anderson
George Spartels
Dr Dealgood
Edwin Hodgeman
Mr Skyfish
Mark Spain
Mark Kounnas
Anna Goanna
Justine Clarke
Shane Tickner
Tom Jennings
Robert Hornery
Ton Ton Tattoo
Andrew Oh
Rod Zuanic
Toni Allaylis
Tubba Tintye
James Wingrove
Finn McCoo
Adam Scougall
Mr Scratch
Adam Willits

George Miller