10:00 am EDT, May 15, 2015

The craziest death machines and destructions from ‘Mad Max’ past and present

Hot wheels and hotter explosions.

Mad Max: Fury Road drives into theaters tonight, so here’s a look back at the maddest stunts and hottest wheels.

Over 30 years ago, George Miller created the hell on wheels classic, Mad Max. He was inspired by the car subculture that was dominant in his Australian upbringing, and by the various road accident injuries he saw during his time as a doctor. For the next 6 years, the madness continued with subsequent films Mad Max 2 (or The Road Warrior) and Mad Max 3 Beyond Thunderdome. Now, 30 years later, Max is back (albeit with a new face), and it’s safe to say no vehicle is safe.

After three films, and now four, there have been some incredible stunts that turned badass vehicles into a metal pile of junk. Each film takes the destruction to a new level, with more fire and more wreckage. Most of these action packed moments were done practically, in real-time speed as well (with the most recent Fury Road‘s practical stunts clocking in at over 80%). If you think that sounds dangerous, you’d be right. There were instances of stunts gone wrong, resulting in various types of injuries.

Whether the stunts went as planned or not, Mad Max still has some of the coolest vehicle hijinks on film. Below are some of these maddest and baddest wrecks from the Mad Max films.

Related: Watch Fury Road‘s Comic-Con footage (again) to get in a mad mood

Mad Maxplosion

Let’s start off with a bang. Which is exactly how the first Mad Max didn’t start. There were zero explosions in Mad Max. The closest it came to a fiery blast was when Toecutter set fire to Goose and his bike, but the scene cut away before the flames erupted. George Miller more than made up for it in the next installments though.

The ante was upped majorly in Road Warrior. The compound explosion was meant to exceed any that had come before it, so explosive industry experts were brought in. The idea was to have an explosion with debris flying everywhere, and a fireball, which are mutually exclusive effects. Fortunately, the right people were brought on board and the result was extraordinary.

Thunderdome brought the thunder down a bit but was still exciting in its own way. When the buggy got hit by the Mack truck, it didn’t just shatter into pieces, it burst into flames, enveloping the front of the train/truck before fizzling out to a metal heap.

Now, after waiting over 30 years for a new installment, it looks like the wait will have been worth it. One trailer for Fury Road has more explosions than the previous THREE films combined. And with higher production values, and years to have learned and developed new tricks, we’re certainly going to get our moneys worth.

Mashed Motorcycles

In the first Mad Max, a Kawasaki Z1000 is sacrificed for cinematic art, by way of a Mack truck slamming into it head on, then driving over it for good measure. The effect is a rather blunt bashing, and a final roll over just to rub it in. If you motorcycle enthusiasts are already traumatized, the next couple of stunts will make you faint.

Either George Miller has a grudge against motorcycles, or he thought a bike bash was too good to not do twice. In Road Warrior, we again see a motorcycle get run over by a truck. This time the bike slides under from the side. Although it was a quick moment, a lot of planning went into it. The bike was hooked onto the truck, designed in such a way that when the bike is released and pulled under the tanker’s wheels, the cables would be pulled out of shot and not get tangled. This had to be done manually, and special effects member Monte Fieguth rode underneath the truck to operate it.

This stunt happens again at least once more in Fury Road, and this time it goes a little further. We’re still in on the action, with the camera right under the truck to give a full view of the demolition, but this time, sparks fly to give a little more drama and dazzle.

Miscellaneous Mayhem

Within the first 10 minutes of the first Mad Max, we’re given a clear idea of what’s in store. The film opens with a car chase which of course leads to some destruction. Possibly the most memorable moment is when the 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan literally drives through a caravan. Who has time to go around in the middle of a road war?

A rather quick moment from Road Warrior is also impactful. After a buggy crashes, a biker collides with it and goes flying off his bike. Stuntman Guy Norris had to drive right at the buggy, and shoot off his bike like a bullet from a barrel a moment before impact, safely landing in the boxes. It didn’t go as planned though. He jumped off his bike a moment too late, and his legs struck the buggy sending him spiraling end over end. The impact broke his leg and he was sent to the hospital. You can see the accident, as the shot made it into the film.

Of course this wouldn’t be complete without mention of the infamous Interceptor, and its demise. Road Warrior sees the painful obliteration of Max’s partner in crime. The 1973 XB Ford Falcon Coupe takes a tumble down a rocky hill before blowing up sacrificing itself for Max. Fortunately the Interceptor is back in Fury Road, and has been given a facelift. Or rather, a face fall, as it looks like it’s seen better days.

There are so many exciting moments from the series and we can’t wait to see what new tricks Fury Road has in store.

What’s your favorite destructive moment from ‘Mad Max’ films?

Related: Mad Max: Fury Road is one of our most anticipated films of 2015. What else made the cut?

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