Friday, 13 May 2011

Cirio H. Santiago's Post Nuke Carnage ...

Wheels Of Fire

In a post apocalyptic future, where fuel is precious, those that rule the roads set the rules. A despotic bandit known as Scourge terrorises the desolate landscape, taking what he wants from those that stray from the protective umbrella of the last remnants of societies liberal governors. With a small army of barbaric men at his command there is little resistance left to oppose his reign of terror, and high on his agenda is illicit regulation of the regions fuel reserves. The fight for the future rests with Mad Max makeover macho man Trace (Gary Watkins), and a gutsy gung ho girl named Stinger (Laura Banks), to stand up to the Scourge and bring hope to a post nuke nightmare !.

A Filipino filmed fuel injected futuristic flick, made on a micro budget for Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures production company. Polish is applied to proceedings by director Cirio H. Santiago, who knows how to deliver Action entertainment. Ably squeezing all the thrills and spills, along with mighty explosions and car stunt arrangements, into his predominantly exterior locations shot frames.

Tough guy Trace looks out for himself and his own, avoiding unnecessary run ins with the Scourge and his anarchic army of followers. That self imposed law is revoked when Trace’s sister Arlie (Lynda Weismeier) is chased down, beaten, raped and taken captive by the lawless lackeys of the Scourge. Trace weapons up and revs up his super charged super car, engaged for Action and hell bent on getting his sister back !.

The desert backdrop landscape is the perfect canvas for Cirio H. Santiago to adorn his Action laden picture with multitudes of speeding motorcycles and automobiles, racing around, smashing and crashing all over the place. Trace tears up his tires in relentless pursuit of Scourge’s hideout, and in his destructive wake he gives aid to a female soldier of fortune, caught in the crossfire of a Scourge attack. Together they take out the trash, and Trace has a new ally in the shape of Stinger (Laura Banks), one tough tigress of a girl who it just so happens also has a score to settle with the Scourge.

It’s an inevitability that Trace and Stinger will come face to face with Scourge, and in that respect the Action filled finale does not disappoint. Their journey together on route throws up a few tricky encounters along the way, including a run in with an underground race of flesh eating beings known as The Sandmen. Pulled into the caverns of The Sandmen, beneath the surface of the shifting sands, Trace and Stinger have to fight their way out against a daylight affected race akin to the Morlocks from The Time Machine (1960). Here they meet and rescue a young woman named Spike, a feisty girl who can look out for herself and who also has the gift of E.S.P. Her ability to read thoughts proves invaluable and immediately gives her and her two new friends the advantage they need to make good their escape from the frenzied cannibals !.

Plenty of gun Action, fist fights and pretty well staged car chase sequences, and crash stunts, keep viewers nicely preoccupied with what is front and centre, cleverly detracting from what is otherwise a flimsy script and bare bones set up. It is easy to forgive any shortfalls here though as Wheels Of Fire never once pretends to be anything other than what it is, and that is low budget ‘B’ movie hokum, with an accentuation on Action. A bare bones, bare breasted, bare knuckle ride along the highway to hell, in a post apocalyptic world where each new day is a fight for survival !.

Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Review by Paul Cooke / Source Japanese NTSC VHS

Wheels Of Fire (1985)

Director Cirio H. Santiago
With Gary Watkins, Laura Banks, Lynda Weismeier,
Linda Grovenor & Joe Mari Avellana 


  1. Looks like a lot of fun! Cirio is a legend!

  2. I'm pretty sure that building in the last screenshot was in Equalizer 2000. In fact all those sandy hills and cars.. they were probably filmed back to back!

  3. Classic Corman reusage. Equalizer 2000 was in fact three years after Wheels Of Fire !. The Wheels Of Fire movie is one of those first off the conveyor from his production stable that was then 'recycled' in many a future pic to come. Whole scenes and different angle shots were used in movies like Equalizer 2000, Raiders Of The Sun even as more recent as Bloodfist 2050. Still does not put me off in the slightest as it all fits into these Action packed worlds in a very entertaining way.

  4. HAH! That's awesome info. I have Raiders of the Sun in my massive to-watch pile and I've seen the great Bloodfist 2050... now that you mention it, it too had random scenes of desert, Mad Max cars etc. Brilliant!

  5. I can't wait for the new restored release of Corman's Battle Beyond The Stars. So many parts of that later show up in his Sci-Fi flicks. Bloodfist 2050 is terrific I agree. The lead star surely will break into many more of these Action flicks. He was quite a discovery.
    Before he sadly passed away the last Cirio H. Santiago directed movie, again for Corman, is a film called Road Raiders & should be out this year. Jim Wynorski seems to have stepped in as a Director, likely to have completed what Cirio started. Looking forward to it as sounds like another high Action likely futuristic flick.