Schlocktoberfest 2K16 Day 4: Wheels of Terror (1990)

Michael Knight and KITT won’t want any of this!

Synopsis: A small town is terrorized by an unknown stranger who kidnaps and abuses little girls. When her only child is kidnapped right in front of her, the schoolbus driver begins the desperate chase to catch the criminal.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the kinds of vehicles that are deemed street legal nowadays. The other week I saw a late model 80s Toyota pickup truck being held together by what I’m pretty damn sure was chicken wire. What made the experience even more terrifying was as I continued walking down the street the vehicle’s owner returned and when he started the engine it sounded like a bomb going off. In another case earlier this afternoon while out running errands I witnessed a Chevrolet SUV with a fair amount of rust and several dents leaving a parking lot with brand new tires and rims that looked like they rolled out of the Nothin’ But A G Thang music video. Like the old saying goes one should never judge a book by looking at the cover but in the case of motor vehicles that look like they’ve driven to hell and back sometimes its best to send them to that giant scrap yard in the sky.

I’m sure some of you are sensing a pattern here. Three years three different killer machine themed horror films. What can I say I’m one for keeping up traditions and figured this was an underappreciated genre that deserved even more time in the spotlight. After last year’s Killdozer and The Car the year before that I purposely searched for something that wasn’t going to match up to the cult like status that both of those films have attached to them. Its quite easy to draw comparisons between Wheels of Terror and The Car. For instance both films take place in the south western region of the United States. Both have truly evil looking cars and while the car in The Car is almost instantly identifiable the car in Wheels of Terror looks like a sleazy POS. Hats off to the effects crew for bending the front grill inwards to give it a much more menacing look. Where the thread of commonality branches though is while there were points in The Car where the car was targeting children by the time 1990 hit Wheels of Terror went for the throat by letting the audience know  full well that these young girls are being targeted and abducted for vile purposes. While it doesn’t quite have the polished production values of either The Car or Killdozer there are still a couple impressive moments. One of the better parts of Wheels of Terror is in the final showdown between the car and the main character whose daughter has gone missing. During the stand off there’s a point where the sound effects from the film are muted and a rather emotional piece of music draws out the tension in a crisp effective manner. All in all Wheels of Terror fits more in line with a love it or hate it type of made for TV thriller. You know what would have given it the instant recommendation from me? No not Happy Gilmore’s grandmother instead the local law enforcement types should have had those 1970 soup strainer type mustaches. I don’t care what anyone says those never go out of style!

Final Grade: C+


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