Why is Fury Road Like Evil Dead?

We’ve all seen Mad Max: Fury Road haven’t we? Of course we have. And we’ve all been totally blown away by what is essentially a Mastodon album come to life in the form of a gigantic death-mobile chase with some of the cleverest visual story-telling to ever grace a silver screen. That about sums it up doesn’t it?

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So why this article and why now?

It’s been a good few weeks and I’ve been thinking more and more about Fury Road, and how much of an experience I had whilst watching it. Because for me it was more than a film, it was as exciting as any life experience. It breaks so many rules associated with its genre that it has ended up carving out a genre all of its own, and it took a man in his seventies to do it! But another man in his twenties made me feel the same way many years ago.

When I first saw Evil Dead I was fifteen and it changed everything I thought about films. I bought the DVD and figured it’d be a good horror romp based on the cover, but I had no other feelings than that. Also, up to that point in my life I wasn’t anywhere close to what you would call a film geek; sure I loved films but I hadn’t seen all that many in real-terms and I had no desire to watch anything that wasn’t made in colour. But Evil Dead changed all of that.

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Sam Raimi created a film so exciting, so fresh and original despite (or maybe because of) its limitations that suddenly movie making became something that excited me beyond all else. I think that’s because he made it accessible. No longer did films appear as this untouchable craft which I could never hope to attempt, instead it was as if my mates had got together in a forest and blown the roof off Hollywood (although let’s be clear, I was still flummoxed by how most of it had been done, I just now knew that it must be doable). I watched Evil Dead for the first time with the biggest grin on my face and a feeling of the world altering before my eyes.

Going off on a tangent (but it links so stay with me) I remember when I was learning to drive and I struggled hugely with the idea of clutch control. My instructor told me that it was one of those things in life that would one day suddenly make sense. ‘You’ll wake up one morning,’ he said, ‘and you’ll suddenly be able to do clutch control.’ Needless to say as a spotty teen desperate to be able to drive so that maybe I could impress girls I didn’t believe him and went home sulking. But I should have listened, because I knew that a couple of years earlier watching Sam Raimi’s masterpiece I was awakened to cinema and suddenly understood what was so totally mind-blowing about every facet of it.

Evil Dead made me love not just a story, a performance or a visual effect, but love the process and the people behind every frame. It made me want to study film and find out how Raimi had got to this point (even in his early twenties) where he had such a grasp on film that he could create a classic on a camcorder. Thus I became hooked and I’ve spent the last 17 years absorbing everything I could about all the elements from screenwriting to editing (and everything in between).

So why is Fury Road like Evil Dead?

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After watching Fury Road the first line that came out of my mouth to the people I was with was ‘That was so good, I actually don’t know how they did that.’ But damn it I wanted to know how. And that my friends is why Fury Road is like Evil Dead. Not since I was fifteen have I been so in awe of a film that I couldn’t grasp the magic involved in bringing it to life, and more importantly so enthralled that I just let the magic wash over me (as dodgy as that sounds). I have watched and studied film for many years, so long in fact and having seen so many films that I wondered if I ever would be so shocked by a film ever again. But I was for Fury Road and in the best possible way.

That’s not to say I’m suddenly calling Fury Road the greatest film ever made. But it doesn’t need to be. It is simply excitement on all levels. And when you go deeper into the process and see, just like Raimi, how many rules George Miller broke (from finishing the storyboards first and using those visuals to inform the script, to building an army of working post-apocalyptic vehicles which needed to run at speeds of over 60mph for physical filming) it only serves to enhance the love I feel for it.

In a world where many have become cynical about mainstream cinema and its penchant for shared universes and soulless cash cows in place of true cinema which functions in terms of story and spectacle, I’m excited we have Fury Road, and I hope it will go on to inspire millions the way Evil Dead inspired me.

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

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