Saturday, 30 August 2008

No.52 : Wheels of Terror

Wheels of Terror at the IMDb

All you fans of Ollie Reed out there have no doubt tracked down this film and been disappointed by it. Despite featuring prominently on the poster he doesn't show up until there are only 7 minutes left and slurs his way through half a dozen lines at most. No doubt he was only on set for one day but what the hell let’s stick him on the box and lure a few suckers in.

This film from 1987 is truly awful despite a well known cast and good source material - it was based on the book of the same name by Sven Hassel. The film is set in the latter stages of WW2 and an American sounding voice over man tells us that the Furher has started ‘Penal Battalions’ for dangerous missions - a bit of a Nazi ‘Dirty Dozen’ if you like. The motley crew have a few scraps before they bond after a dust up in a brothel.

Evil Colonel David Carradine has a mission for them - blow up a Russian supply train 150 miles behind enemy lines and they can have some time off and have their records cleared. Our guys set off, first having to steal explosives from the dozy Soviets before heading to the train depot in Red Army gear. After a brief encounter with a group of deserters from both sides and sexes they head off to blow up the oldest and smallest train you’ll ever see.

The initial attempt is a failure but can they succeed and at what cost? Will the Colonel keep his word and will there be anyone left for Ollie to pin a medal on?

This is a strange film - most of the cast is American yet they are all badly dubbed. I can only imagine the film was shot in English for the foreign market and then dubbed. Seeing how great it was someone must have then re-dubbed it back into English using mostly different voices. Crazy!

The film looks totally false and nothing like the Eastern Front it’s supposed to portray. The bright sunny days are a clue that we are not in Russia and it was no surprise to learn that the whole thing was actually shot in Yugoslavia. In 5 days. Probably.

I remembered some of the characters from the book like Porta and Tiny but they were nothing like the blood thirsty criminals I remembered. The lead is the guy who got filled with water in ’X-Men’ and he’s ably assisted by the leader of the Rogues out of ’The Warriors’. ’Script come out to play ay ay’ he should have said.

David Carradine is obviously miscast as the baddie German being of Eastern decent as he is. No one seems to notice but they are probably all mesmerised by his fake scar and funny, oh so tough, lines. The cheapness of the whole production is apparent throughout with the same tanks used for both sides with justification lines such as ‘they've stolen our tank let’s steal it back’ used to repel suspicious viewers. You also see nothing destroyed, with direct hits being nothing more than some petrol set alight on the tank’s bonnet.

The bottom line is that this film is rubbish with nothing to recommend it. It shamelessly cashes in of some star names who have little input to the actual film, and is so bad and unrealistic in places that it’s almost funny. But not quite.

Best Bit :Ollie as the mean General raises a smile

‘W’ Score 5/23

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