Mad Max VHS Releases and Variations
Everything you ever needed to know about Mad Max on VHS
Before DVD and Blu-ray, Mad Max was long available on VHS (and Beta, of course). Although there were many releases and re-releases over the years, I'm not aware of any VHS or Beta release that included additional scenes or material to any other. The US releases did of course contain the dubbed audio track, and there were releases in the UK which actually cut the film shorter to remove some of the violence, particulary the chevy attack scene. While rumours have circulated of Mad Max cut scenes, I'm yet to turn up any commercial release of the film containing any such material - it seems if these scenes ever did air, it was on cable in the US during the 1980's (and there's still a reward offered if anyone can turn up such a copy!)
For some historical info on the various VHS releases that were available over the years, please see below. If you've got anything further to add, just drop me a line.
Comparison of Mad Max Releases on VHS
Mad Max was readily available in Australia in PAL video format (incompatible with the NTSC video format used in the U.S.). The local Australian releases were only ever available in Pan and Scan - no widescreen.
Covers for the first two Australian VHS releases of Mad Max
I believe I've seen most of the available Australian VHS releases over the years, mainly looking for any possible variations - which I did not find. Below is some detail on the versions that I know of - if you know of or have any VHS (or Beta) release that I have not listed here, particularly an early one, please let me know. It would obviously be good to add to the list, and if it does contain any different material, I'd obviously love to obtain a copy.
- The original Roadshow release was a dark blue cover, with the Australian poster image (seen above). Prior to the film itself, the tape has previews for the films "Insatiable", "Dead & Bured", "Nightmares", and "The Wanderers" - all quality B Grade stuff! The running time of the feature itself is 1 hour 28 minutes and approx 20 seconds (timed to the end of the credits text - noting that the credits are actually cut short on all Australian VHS versions, although the music keeps going past this at varying lengths). I expect this tape was released some time around 1980 or 1981 (the tape itself is not dated).
- The next Roadshow release, also pictured above, features the US poster artwork on the front cover and on the spine. The title of the film is given as "The Original" Mad Max, suggesting this was re-released to coincide with the release of Mad Max 2 (the same phrase was used also for a limited theatrical re-release of Mad Max around the time of Mad Max 2). That would suggest that this tape was released some time around 1982 or 1983. Content wise, the tape is identical to the first Roadshow release, right down to the trailers before the film.
- Mad Max was again released on VHS in 1988, with a cover almost identical to the second release, except that the cover artwork on the spine was replaced with a barcode. The copyright warning at the start of the tape is updated, and it now contains a "Village Roadshow" title (instead of just "Roadshow" as per the first two releases). The previews on the tape are for the "Aussie Six Pack" collection, being "Mad Max", "Gallipoli", "Far East", "Picnic At Hanging Rock", "Rebel" and "Stone" - all for the bargain price of $19.88 each on VHS. Following this is a trailer for the "Brat Pack Six Pack" collection of animated features - "Mask", "Challenge Of The Gobots", "Care Bears" (clearly targeted to the Mad Max fans here), "Silver Hawks", "Thunder Cats" and "Pole Position". Finally we get to a warning about the "R" rating, followed by the feature itself - 1 hour 28 minutes and approx 20 seconds again, the same as the others.
- Beyond this, Mad Max was released at least once more in the 1990's to video stores, and also on sell through in stores as this became more popular (and cheap). The final VHS I have contains no previews at all and aside from the Village Roadshow leader jumps straight into the feature - again at the exact same running time as the others.
I have unfortunately never been able to track down a Beta release of Mad Max, although I suspect it was released on that format - it would be interesting to review and compare, although I would be surprised if the content is different to the first Roadshow release above. Like I said, if anyone does have anything different to any of these releases, please get in touch, and we will work something out.
There were never any legitimate undubbed releases of Mad Max available in the USA on VHS. All VHS releases I saw were dubbed, pan and scan format, and contained no different content in the film to any other release. In August 1999 the dubbed Mad Max was released for the first time in Widescreen on VHS in the USA. Below are some scans of the cover, although I never managed to locate any online stores selling this one, so I don't know how widely available it is / was.
Thanks to Jason Carlton for these pictures
Finally, it is worth noting that the 1993 Image / Orion widescreen laserdisc of Mad Max still contained the American dubbed dialogue, and NOT the Australian dialogue as had been claimed in their pre-release publicity at the time. Apparently they found at the last minute that they were unable to get the legal rights to use the original soundtrack. There are no US laserdiscs that contain the original dialogue.
The original UK releases of Mad Max were censored, cutting out the Chevy Impala attack. The scene was cut from the point where the meat cleaver hits the windscreen, about 48 seconds I'm told. Later UK releases now include this scene, and often boast themselves as "unedited", "uncut" or even "director's cut", when in fact this version includes nothing more than what the rest of us have seen for years.
During the 1990's, Warner Home Video (UK) Ltd released a VHS version of the film not only containing the original dialogue, but presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This video is PAL also. The catalogue number for the video is PES 12545. This was re-released around 1995 under the Beyond Vision label, with the product code SO12545. Warner Home Video in the UK also used to also offer Max Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in Widescreen VHS, but these were harder to find - the Warner versions were deleted, and originally they were due to be re-released under the Beyond Vision label. However, due to the emergence of DVD, there were no further releases on VHS.
Although I have never seen a Japanese VHS release, their old laserdisc releases contained the dubbed dialogue only, and I suspect it would be the same with any Japanese VHS releases. If anyone does have an old Japanese VHS, I would be curious to know whether this was in fact the case, and whether there was anything different about the content of the film itself, or anything else of note.