Mad Max by Terry Kaye. Paperback book published by Circus Books 1979, 200 pages.
“MAD MAX will make you stab for the brake until the very last page. Your blood will turn to ice and your eyes will squirm with horror. Bullet down the spine of suicide highway with the Toe Cutter, Bubba Zanetti, and Johnny the Boy hissing with revenge for the death of their hero The Night Rider, killed after a frenzied car chase with mad-cop Max. Mad Max, Jim the Goose, and Fifi Macaffee follow a twisted trail of highway smashes, torture, and brutality in pursuit of the nomad bikies. MAD MAX will career you into a metallic volcano, exploding with fiendish crimes, lightning chase scenes and one man’s madness against a gang of bike riding psychopaths. Hit the road with MAD MAX and crash the hot metal nightmare of a lifetime.”
In 1979 the first of the Mad Max film franchise was released to mixed revues. Over the years it has become one of Australia’s most successful films both financially and critically, attracting a rabid following both here and elsewhere. This book was typical of the sort of novelization that was written and published to accompany cinematic releases. I think the idea was that you would be able to take the book home and relive the film through the book. As far as I’m aware this sort of novelization is less popular now possibly due to the advent of Video and then later, DVDs, in other words, why read the book if you can watch the film over and over again. These books were often written as an afterthought and not necessarily by the creative forces that created the original story. In case your thinking that this is just more Huc & Gabet rubbish/guess work, the story was written by James McCausland and was then revised by George Miller and Byron Kennedy… of which none are Terry Kaye (the author of this book).
This book is rare and unlike many of the other gems I accidentally find and only later realize that I have struck gold, I was aware of it’s value as soon as I saw it. Now this is an interesting thing in bookselling, how did I know? Actually, it's not that interesting. I think I’ve written before that gut feeling is one way, previous experience selling a particular title is another, in this instance it was neither. A few years back I was casually talking to some fellow booksellers about interesting books and they mentioned this title as being one to look out for (… as one does). The success and continued cult following of the movie has ensured a demand for this rare paperback. I think the other thing is that due to the format many copies have worn and subsequently deteriorated considerably making intact and reasonably good condition copies all that more uncommon. This copy is not in mint condition but it is still in one piece.
Finally, I would like to mention that sections of the original movie were filmed here in Clunes. There are locals who remember the event and those tourists who are not here visiting Australia’s only booktown or investigating family history, are often here to worship at the holy Mad Max sites of pilgrimage. It’s been a long time since I saw the film so I can’t confirm what was or wasn’t filmed here, but I have been assured that the railway station is in the film. Living here in such an illustrious location, i should also add that I’ve never met Toe, Bubba, Johnny, Jim, Fifi or Mad... but I’m sure I would recognise them if I did. I guess they have all moved on… as I hope this book will do as well.