|11 Mad Max Fury Road — Supercharged Fury, Part 2|
“We are not things!” – The Wives
In the world of the Road Warrior, there are machines built for transport, combat or speed, but only one built to rock. A rolling intimidator and rally machine, the Doof Wagon is a sonic carmageddon on wheels—pumping Immortan Joe’s gang of War Boys full of kamikaze gusto as their torqued-out, supercharged V8 engines bomb into battle. The gantry-like mobile stage is stacked high with gargantuan speakers, PA systems and repurposed air-conditioning ducts to reverberate the driving beat of Taiko drummers into the sand. The Doof Warrior swings from a bungee cord mounted to the front as he shreds metal and flame from a double-necked electric guitar/flamethrower.
When Immortan Joe marshals his gangs for war, he needs all the fuel the People Eater can refine and carry from the boiling flats of Gas Town. The vehicle of choice for the Guardian of Gas Town is a Mercedes stretch limo with lattice cut-out windows perched on a horizontal cracking tower that refines fuels from oil even as it hurtles across the desert. Every inch of the People Eater vehicle oozes consumption and excess, from its bulging tanks of fuel to its ostentatiously embellished grill. Miller notes, “The People Eater is a kind of bean counter for the Immortan Joe, so we figured if he had a Mercedes stretch limousine, he might as well decorate it with just about every fancy car grill he can find.”
Never far from the People Eater’s exhaust cloud are a host of Fire Cars, along with a supercharged V8 Volkswagen Bug, beaten into a slick silver finish that reflects the People Eater’s domed head, and sporting triple exhaust pipes, a double-barrel flamethrower, and drums of fuel that ape the piping, drums, coils and condensation vats of its Master.
If the Road War was waged on unbroken flatlands, it would be anyone’s game. But in the mercurial Wasteland, with its omnipresent threat of toxic storms, sand pits and hungry bogs, the Bullet Farmer shines. “George, in his storytelling, has some great punctuation to the chase—one of which is the Night Bog, which immobilizes a lot of vehicles,” Gibson offers. “And what can go through a bog but a tank?”
A brassy 1970s Valiant chassis welded to the body of a U.S.-made Ripsaw Tank, the Bullet Farmer’s signature assault vehicle, ironically named the Peacemaker, marries machine gun, tank tread and torpedo over a water-cooled Merlin V8. Styled with aviation parts, a shark mouth finish of bullets, and carrying an enormous armory befitting Immortan Joe’s exclusive weapons dealer, this unstoppable, highly-maneuverable, and visually striking war machine can surpass more than 60 kilometers-an-hour and give not a quarter to the treacherous terrain.
The Bullet Farmer Convoy is equally deadly as they trawl the Wasteland in menacing Claw Cars, designed to crush, and, as the name suggests, claw anything in their wake. The Claw Cars are repurposed from, among other vehicles, an International Ute, and a viciously toothed Ford F250 tow truck. “They have ridiculous contraptions at the back that are like giant rakes or giant anchors that they then drop and dig into the earth to provide a counterforce,” explains principal storyboard artist Mark Sexton. “And then they use the force of the claws digging through the earth to slow down the opposing vehicles.”
Included in this heavily armed convoy is the Ploughboy, an EH wagon jacked up over an off-road frame and rigged with harpoon and hydraulic-driven plough to till the battlefield for spoils, whether metal or flesh.
The tribes that appear in the film also have their signature vehicles. The Buzzard tribe bursts from the cracked earth in spiked jalopies and their hulking “mother” vehicle, the Buzzard Excavator. These carrion-trawling machines are purpose-built to crush, puncture, tear apart and tunnel through anything in their path. The Buzzard Excavator was built from a M.A.N. 6 X 6 tractor and fitted with 1,757 menacing spikes—exactly the number of quills the art department counted on the hide of a Tasmanian Echidna, the Australian anteater that inspired it—with the remaining Buzzards receiving the bulk of the 5,000 steel spikes hand-manufactured from recycled car panels for the film.
Nimble as mountain goats, the Rock Riders skate the cliffs in highly adapted Gas Gas and Yamaha motorcycles. The Vuvalini have patched-together their own swarm of motor bikes, which are as tough, versatile and resilient as they are. Modified heavy touring bikes, the Vuvalini’s rides of choice hearken back to the golden age of motorcycles, with leather seats customized with feminine detail and nomadic styling that, says Gibson, “give you the last thrill of your last ride before these lovely old bikie chicks take you out with a single shot.”
Finally, after a decade of design, creation, fine tuning and final touches, the film’s 150 mechanized war machines charged into a real life Road War when put to the ultimate test on the sands of the Namib desert. Many weathered the storm, not all survived, but each earned its keep. “All of them were out there for many big scenes, particularly at the beginning,” Miller allows. “Then, bit by bit, there was an attrition. It can’t be helped—it’s a war.”
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