Mad Max is a movie about a post-disaster world, and its success has inspired oodles of disastrously bad films. Witness Grade-Z movies so epically execrable that you’ll be yearning for a couple minutes in Thunderdome.
Also known as Warlords of the 21st Century (the film takes place in 1994), 1982’s Battletruck was New Zealand’s answer to Mad Max. How does Battletruck stack up with the Mad Max franchise? Imagine if Flight of the Conchords opened for AC/DC circa 1977. I think that’s a brilliant bill, but a lot of people would throw bottles. That being said, Battletruck has its merits.
Finally, I’m just going to say “fuck spoilers” and show you the death of Battletruck because everyone needs to see a real 16-ton truck plummet down an 800-foot precipice. Why save your props when you can toss them off cliffs in a blaze of glory? I sort of wish the demise of Battletruck occurred on the first day of filming to boost crew morale, and then they had to halt production for a month to build a new one.
2) 1990: Bronx Warriors
Also made in ‘82, the Italian 1990 cribbed its esthetic not only from Mad Max, but also Escape from New York and The Warriors. Is it a greater than the sum of its parts? Yes and no. On one hand, there’s this narration, which is aural chorizo...
...but then again, there’s this acting, which makes The Warriors sound like it was literally penned by Xenophon. So is 1990 deserving of a Bronx cheer? You be the judge.
3) 2019 - After The Fall Of New York
Another Italian Mad Max/Escape from New York hybrid, 2019 at least has the good graces to give us a couple of decades for their world to go to pot. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the opening narrator just freestyled the plot on the 1983 flick, and the director was too lazy/cowed to correct him.
Come to think of it, the acting seemed pretty improvised too. This fellow probably wanted to get out of his contract, so he threw himself on a car battery. On the plus side, the movie also had some Death Race-like car gladiators thrown in for good measure. See for yourself.
4) Warriors of the Apocalypse
This 1985 Filipino film was The Road Warrior in the Amazon with “The Mountain of Life” with laser eyes. Witness!
5) Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
People describe Metalstorm as Mad Max + Star Wars, but I think it’s more along the lines of Mad Max + Krull. I’m a big fan of the title, as Jared-Syn is never destroyed. That’s like naming Star Wars “Episode IV: A New Hope (Because Darth Vader Dies Of Rubella).” It was also released in 3-D in 1983, so know you can experience what it feels like to be engulfed by a crap rainbow.
6) Steel Dawn
Q: How do you make Road House 100% more macho?
A: Remove all the infrastructure. (On second thought, Steel Dawn was more like Point Break if every other character was Anthony Kiedis.)
7) A Man Called Rag
This 1984 Italian clone replaced “gasoline” with “Uranium,” which is sort of unremarkable in the world of Mad Max rip-offs. So why’s it on here? It was part of Sybil Danning’s Adventure Video. Danning is a fucking legend; she was like the Elvira of the action movie circuit. Watch her openly admit that A Man Called Rage is a rip-off. In that dress, no one will oppose you.
8) Equalizer 2000
Another 1986 Filipino production — this one featured a pre-T-1000 Robert Patrick. In Equalizer 2000, Alaska is a desert, and real guns are made by sweating all over them. Need more übermanly wasteland theatrics? Look no further.
10) Everything Else
Honestly, we had trouble stopping this list at 10, as there are so many other Milquetoast Maxes out there. For your perusal, here’s the best of the worst.
• Exterminators of the Year 3000, which has the most brutal trailer in celluloid history.
• Ultra Warrior (1990), which recycles a stock footage sex scene (NSFW).
• From the Philippines, we have Wheels of Fire , which is so shameless it doesn’t even add an idiotic twist (1985, link slightly NSFW).
• The parched Stryker, which was like Waterworld in the desert.).
•Max Wasteland’s YouTube Channel, which is a treasure trove of wasteland cinema. (Rollerblade Warriors, anyone?) Click that link and you’ll waste an hour just listening to the opening narrations from shitty after-the-fall movies. Recommended.
This article originally appeared on November 28, 2010.