Monday, 8 June 2009

No. 152 : Wheels Of Terror (1990)

Here’s the first doubler of the ‘W’ quest with this feature unrelated to the Ollie Reed World War 2 fest we enjoyed slightly way back when. This film has an iconic poster that I remember from the home video hay day of the early eighties. I never saw the film then as the shop never had it in but having seen it now I wish I had kept the air of mystery as it is complete crap.

It was made as a TV movie so you have to give it some latitude but not much as it’s patently awful. The film is effectively one big chase with a few bits of nonsense bolted on for the sake of the running time. We open with a single mum moving to a remote town. She has a history of being a driver (remember that) and has a job driving a school bus which has a souped up engine courtesy of a friendly Mexican (remember that too!).

Mother and daughter relocated to get away from crime ridden LA but wouldn’t you know it that the small town is being menaced by a bad car complete with its own ominous musical cues. We know the car is bad as it has blacked out windows and is a bit dirty. Despite the town being tiny no one seems to notice this dirty Dodge Charger crawling about outside the primary school. Soon a girl is abducted and is retuned interfered with so we know we are dealing with a nonce with a dirty car - the worst kind.

He soon elevates his crimes to murder and the local town meeting is in brouhaha crisis although they pooh-pooh the bad car stories. Despite being the main voice of caution the bus driving mum sees her daughter taken next and embarks on a half hour cross country chase in her school bus to reclaim her captured child. After the seemingly endless chase the car goes off a cliff but then reappears suggesting something supernatural, but then it goes over again and into a dynamite shack for good measure and that’s that.

This film marks a nadir in The Quest and frankly I’m regretting some of the low ratings I’ve issued before as this is the worst of the lot. The ‘bad car’ just comes across as daft and annoying. We never know the driver or his history and all attempts to make a character out of the vehicle itself fail miserably. It does have headlight eyes and a growly voice but that’s it. It’s not even that fast failing to out run a school bus (albeit a souped up one) and it’s really wimpy when given even the slightest bump.

The heroine working mum struggling with her single parenthood and holding down a job is a real cliché but she does buck that somewhat by doing some mean driving stunts in a bus. The seemingly endless chase sequence is really poor with the same put the bad guy into a spin move done a dozen times. There are a couple of humorous moves where the car jumps out, especially one where it flattens a motorcycle cop, but it never graduates from the ridiculous. The coup de gras ending where it lands on a hut marked ‘EXPLOSIVES’ is straight out of Looney Tunes and is a fitting ending to a rubbishy and far fetched TV movie that wants the style of ‘Vanishing Point’ but has all the charisma of vanish stain remover.

Best Bit : Watch out for the TNT shack!
‘W’ rating : 1/23

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