Wheels of Fire (1985)

Gary Watkins, Laura Banks, Lynda Wiesmeier, Linda Grovenor,
In a postapocalyptic future, a ruthless vehicular gang called the Highway Warriors is conquering the wasteland through murder and plunder. During a raid, they kidnap the sister of a road warrior named Trace. He brings hell down upon...
  • 4.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Ellen Collett, Frederick Bailey, Cameron Frankley, Keith Mortimer, Joseph Williams, Writer:
  • Cirio H. Santiago, Director:
  • Producer:
3 / 10

The story of Max Rockatansky's brain damaged cousin

Max had the V-8, Trace (Wheels of Fires last and only hero) has a jet engine on the back of his car allowing him to make unintentionally humorous faces as he rockets around the halfway desolate wasteland. Be amazed as Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) is dissected and spliced back together as a new movie albeit filmed in a lackluster manner with bad actors and lousy stunt work.

Why is WoF set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Simple, The Road Warrior was! Actually any questions can be answered by: it was that way in the Road Warrior! Except for the out of work mutant actors from the original 60's The Time Machine film that make a cameo appearance for sake of giving the audience some non-vehicular action to chew on for a few minutes.

In typical 80's fashion, all cars driven by bad guys that are bumped or slightly jostled explode in a huge billowing explosion. Inevitably all car chases will happen near convenient cliff sides and cars will unavoidably fall off of them. Along with this 80's cinematic wild ride is the general rampant misogyny in this style of cheapie film. Generally I waited for Trace's rocket powered car to accelerate and shoot flames so there would be another shot of him scrunching up his face like he is supposed to be tough, which comes off more as him looking constipated. Badly choreographed action coupled with bad acting makes this film a true sinker. The unintentional humor value even manages to wear thin.

Rats: Nights of Terror by Bruno Mattei is superior. And that in and of itself is saying a lot! By this count 2020 Texas Gladiators is a cinematic masterpiece compared to Wheels of Fire. A poor Road Warrior knock off that doesn't have near enough cheese factor to make the film watchable.

10 / 10

Come on, its a classic!

First off I have to say that this film is awful. Seriously, its so bad that when I put the video next to Citizen Kane that movie started to suck as well.

So why have I given it 10 stars? Because you'll never see a movie as deranged as this. Its the cinematic equivalent of a tramp, high on amphetamines, trying to beat a fairground ride to death with a birthday cake.

Its a Mad Max rip off with dreadful actors, no real plot and no budget. Thrown into the mix a bizarre underground cameo from the Umpa Lumpas from Willy Wonka, the craziest sex scene ever which looks like it was taken from a daytime soap and full on battle sequence at the end and you have pure straight to video gold.

Watch it with your critical faculties intact and you'll hate it. Watch it with some spicy food, Chivas Regal and a bag of Moroccan black and you're in for a hell of a ride.

7 / 10

This should've been a TV series...

At first glance, you would think that that Wheels of Fire is a complete Mad Max rip-off. That's because it is, quite clearly, a complete Mad Max rip-off. The film starts off with a preamble sequence that passes by far too quickly to get any particular scope on the story, but it basically runs thus: the film starts with our lone driver hero (and not bad at jumping massive drops either), Trace (Gary Watkins) drives over to meet his sister Arlee (Lynda Weismeier) and her new boyfriend Bo (Steve Parvin) at a surprisingly organised post-apocalyptic encampment that actually makes the wasteland look not-so-bad. Unsurprisingly, this doesn't last long. The boyfriend gets in a fight over car keys, it all gets out of hand, and everyone gets ticked off, forcing Trace and co. to beat a swift exit. They get separated, the boyfriend gets killed and Arlee gets sent off as fresh meat for the bad guys Scourge (Joseph Anderson) and the man who only ever says "Come on!", Scag (Jack S. Daniels). This, quite reasonably, puts Trace in a bad mood, so he teams up with bounty hunter and hawkmaster Stinger (Laura Banks), River Tam-alike Spike (Linda Grovenor) and short fuel tanker escort Whiz (Joe Zucchero), who doesn't seem to do much of anything other than "Ooga ooga!". He's basically R2D2, but less useful. The one thing I thought that let the film down (aside from some ropey acting) was that there were so many brilliant ideas that the writer had for this story, but with only an hour and a half running time, they had to cram everything in at once, which really disrupted the storyline. Everything moves too quickly. It's clear that the story is rich with opportunity and the writer wanted to express that. Considering how rich the characters and potential stories are here, I can't help wondering if they should've made it a TV series instead. At the very least, it would've given them more time to expand on the storyline and character development. Another thing I noticed was that the lead character is really well connected with the world around him, as is revealed as the story progresses. Everyone just seems to know him. Apparently he used to be "on the team" with those guys building the rocket. The main villain is his mortal enemy. He and the ambassador have a history. It's all clearly trying to build up the mythology behind this story. Gary, however, seems to have other ideas. The tagline for the film is "If you thought Max was mad? wait 'til you meet Trace!" Which is all well and good, but not once do you see him looking more than slightly annoyed, as if the warlord kidnapping his sister and sending her off to rape camp is little more than a minor nuisance. And don't get me started on Lynda Weismeyer. All she seems to do throughout the whole film is escape, get captured, scream and show off her credentials. And when she finally does something meaningful, she gets gunned down. Twice. Still, there is a lot to love the film for. Linda Grovenor plays her turn as the psychic Spike with this wonderful sense of warmth and freshness that, in a film set on a wasted Earth, makes her seem incredibly rare. From the moment she first appears on-screen, you just feel for her. She's a wonderful addition to the cast and when the big fight at the climax comes around, she doesn't just stay in the sidelines. Oh no, she really kicks ass, with nothing but a knife. She gives the villains what for in a way that should be right up there with Summer Glau's Reaver fight at the end of Serenity. Grovenor really shines in this role and they were truly lucky to have her on the film. And on the flipside of kick-ass heroines, Laura Banks' bounty hunter Stinger, while maybe not a stand-out against the likes of Princess Leia, Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley, she could certainly hold her own. She's more than a match for Trace, a really well-rounded character who seems to be genuinely conflicted. And the fact that SHE ALSO HANDLES A BIRD-OF-PREY just makes her seem ALL THE MORE BADASS. Beat that, Virginia Hey. And then there's the cars. Trace delivers fiery justice from the roof-mounted flamethrower on his gorgeous jet-black '64 Ford Mustang. Funny how everyone in the future drives muscle cars?

7 / 10

Pure trash, but some post-nuke fans will love it.

Yet another in the assembly line of low budget "Mad Max" / "Road Warrior" ripoffs actually isn't bad at all, even if it IS derivative. Give credit to the extremely prolific producer & director Cirio H. Santiago: he takes the script by Frederick Bailey and just hits the ground running. He offers very little in the way of let-up, and plenty of action. Our hero could have used a touch more charisma, but he's passable, and the bad guys are such loathsome scum that it's satisfying to watch them come to their ends.

Gary Watkins ("The Long Riders", "Johnny Dangerously") stars as "Trace", a lone wolf in a post- apocalypse future. His kid sister Arlie (Playboy Playmate Lynda Wiesmeier) ends up abducted by the villainous Highway Warriors led by a power crazed goon appropriately named "Scourge" (Joe Mari Avellana, a familiar name to you if you've watched enough Filipino exploitation). With the help of a killer named "Stinger" (Laura Banks) and a young clairvoyant girl named "Spike" (Linda Grovenor), he takes on the scores of minions that come his way.

"Wheels of Fire" is going to be too nasty and hard-edged for some tastes. It will never be mistaken for a feminist statement. But those of you who love a bit of sleaze to go with your brainless futuristic thrills should be more than satisfied. Wiesmeier is made to go topless a great deal of the time, and at one point is tied spread eagle across the hood of a car. There's no excessive gore to concern more squeamish viewers, but that DOESN'T mean that this isn't still plenty violent. For example, Trace has a flamethrower mounted on his vehicle and he just LOVES to set guys on fire.

Performances are all perfectly suited to the material. They won't win Oscars, but who cares? Watkins is okay, and the ladies look just fine. Fortunately, both Banks and Grovenor get to be fairly heroic themselves and handle themselves capably in fight scenes. Avellana is a decent villain, Joseph Zucchero is amusing as a dude named "Whiz", and Jack S. Daniels is a hoot as a wretched piece of excrement named "Scag".

Acceptable genre entertainment gets its biggest boost from the rousing, full orchestral score by the talented Christopher Young ("Hellraiser").

Seven out of 10.

7 / 10


Hideous rip-off of the "Road Warrior" genre -- low-budget and low-brow, the worst of the worst. It might be sort of amusing in that MST3K way, with goofy scenes that recall "R is for Rocket" and the Morlocks, except that the whole thing is so disturbingly misogynistic. If you decide to rent this, don't tell anyone whose respect you want that you're doing it.