copyright 2005 by Pat Powers
Wheels of Fire is another in the miserable genre of Mad Max clones about the adventures of post-apocalyptic morons wandering around in the desert doing one stupid thing after another.
Wheels of Fire is just a LITTLE more imaginative than most Mad Max clones, I'll give it that much. There is some evidence that thought, however feeble, was given to how society might reform itself into something other than warring bands of marauders after the apocalypse. Still, the movie consists mostly of idiots driving around in mangled cars while shooting at one another.
What really sets Wheels of Fire apart from other action adventure movies is how thoroughly and frequently Lynda Weismier, who plays the hero's hot little sister, gets raped.
Well, it happens to Lynda in Wheels of Fire. It happens a lot, though not explicitly. What do we mean by that? Well, take the first implied rape scene for example. Lynda is seen lying in the bad guy's tent, her arms held down by two scum women (that's really how the cast listing identifies them - "scum women"). Lynda is defiant, and we see her lying there held down and virtually naked while the bad guy pulls off his belt buckle and says, "You're going to regret that!"
Now, he may have been about to whip her with the belt, but in the context of the scene (he had already called first dibs on raping her in an earlier scene) the intent was clearly rape. In the next scene we encounter her, she's lying naked on a cot, freshly raped, and we see the evil overlord's minion leaving her while a second minion waits for his turn, the serial rape though not shown is unmistakable. And in the third scene we only see the men stripping and assaulting Lynda, the scene closes before she's gang-raped, but that's clearly what's going on. It's implied, but so clearly that it can be nothing else than a gang-bang rape.
In fact, Lynda spends more of her onscreen time naked than clothed, and for all of that time she's in the bad guys' power, and they are using that power for evil and not for good. Don't believe me? Here's a list of Lynda's onscreen appearances and actions. (Note: all the times given are from the point when the movie's title, Wheels of Fire first appears.)
At no time is Lynda seen having sex, or having sex while bound, which puts this film several steps behind Evil Town, Lynda's other great tie-up spectacular. But for sheer QUANTITY of rape, this movie is hard to beat. I'll wager that Lynda plays the most raped little sister in movie history in Wheels of Fire. I mean, we're talking bad guy sperm coming out her ears. Plenty of bondage rape, too, especially if you are generous with the implied bondage rape, which I tend to be. (I.e., since they don't show the rape, you don't SEE any bondage during the rape, but that doesn't mean she WASN'T tied down, does it? She could just as easily be bound and gagged as not, so long as you are implying things.)
You gotta wonder why Weismeir, whose film history is not large, especially if you exclude films made expressly for Playboy, gets these kinda roles. But one look at her explains why -- she combines an innocent, fresh face with naturally large, bouncy breasts and a generally hard-on inducing body.
That combination of Midwestern corn-fed wholesome kicker-gal beauty, innocence and drool-inducing sexual attractiveness is what made Weismeir a DD-natural for DiD roles. Her open, wholesome face makes clear why it's so wrong that she should be attacked. And her killer bod makes clear why the bad guys want to attack her.
Weismeir's large natural breasts are important not just because of the attractiveness that many associate with large breasts. Their naturalness means they tend to bounce and flop all over the place when she moves vigorously, as in when she's gang-assaulted. It's visually mind-boggling, compared to those silicon mounds that remain in place no matter how the actress moves.
There are a couple of nice touches in this movie that show that the writer/director was in good touch with sex slavery fantasies, however ludicrous the rest of the movie was.
In fact, there is a definite Gorean feel to Wheels of Fire. So many scenes detailing just how thoroughly and brutally Lynda's character is raped are definitely a Gorean feature. So are "slavegirls" (Scum woman 1 and 2) who have presumably already been thoroughly broken by the bad guys and now assist in breaking the new girl, whom they're glad to help break because it feels so nice to have someone who's a social inferior to THEM.
In fact, the movie's visual signature -- Lynda spreadeagled naked on the hood of a car -- is very much like the image that is on the cover of a U.S. edition of Norman's Guardsman of Gor, showing a naked slavegirl hung suspended from the prow of a Gorean ship. (The scene is played up in the book as well -- it's one of those very rare totally appropriate book covers.)
Like the slavegirl on the cover of Guardsman, Lynda is displayed on the front of her captors' vehicle as a prize. (There's a scene of a topless woman tied to the front of a Land Rover in an Aussie film called Fair Game (not to be confused with the U.S. film of the same name starring Cindy Crawford) but she's not being displayed, Gorean style, she's there to be terrified and brutalized as they drive her through the bush (and the bushes).
In another nice scene, the male protagonist hooks up with a brave, beautiful post apocalyptic warrior woman, and they visit a friendly encampment and hang with their buddies, and the protagonist and the warrior woman fall in love rather quickly and have huge romantic sex. Don't believe me? Check out the image below:
Now, while this is going on, little sister is being raped, serial raped and gang raped by the bad guys, and the scenes of her being raped are intercut with scenes of the protagonist chillin' with his homies and having big romantic sex. That really ramps up the irony -- big brother makes out with the lush violins in the background while little sister is bound, beaten and violently penetrated by a lot of guys who don't give a crap about her.
But perhaps the nicest touch is the scene where Lynda begs to be fed and offers her body for a scrap of food. The guy she's begging from is a real scuzzbag, skinny and ugly. Her brother would probably crush the guy with a single blow. Lynda herself could probably have whipped this guy pretty easily under other circumstances -- there's a robust kicker-gal body under all those womanly curves.
But all the rape has her psychologically broken, so she begs piteously (well, it's meant to be piteous, Lynda's not a good actor and it comes off kinda wooden) to the scuzzbag.
So often, you don't see this kind of scene in a film where evil captors have attempted to break a captive. The captive just acts distressed while being molested and happy after she's rescued, and you never get any sense that what has happened to her has affected her.
Having Lynda crumble emotionally under all this harsh treatment adds enormously to the pathos of the situation if it's done well (Lynda's wooden acting hurt a lot in this respect, as it was so bad it blew the entire scene, and believe me, if I'm capable of buying a scene in a movie as weak as Wheels of Fire I can do some serious suspension of disbelief.) For a good example of this, check out John Norman's Captive of Gor where the titular captive's spirit is for a time crushed under her punishment for some wrongs she has done.
Lynda's brother witnesses her debasement, also a nice touch -- she has been dishonored in front of her family. When she breaks into tears when he rescues her, it's the closest thing to a real moment in the film. It's not all that close, but it's a lot closer than the rest of the shallow malarkey that passes for story and characterization here.
As written the scene had the potential to be powerful and pathetic in a different way that it was (i.e., in the sense of arousing pathos for Lynda, not a feeling that the scene was a pathetic excuse for drama). Lynda's subsequent heroic dash across open ground during a firefight in order to detonate some mines that are threatening the good guys' forces is made even more powerful by her prior breakdown. You understand what she has been through, and what effect it has had on her.
Let me make it clear, though -- Wheels of Fire is a crummy movie. Watching it with your full attention purely as entertainment without attempting to analyze it or MST3K it would be painfully boring, except for Lynda's many nude scenes, and as good as they are, they aren't really enough to make up for the rest of the film.
And although Wheels of Fire had some Gorean touches, it's not a true Gorean movie -- for that to be the case, there has to be some romance going on between captor and captive, and that just isn't the case here. The Evil Overlord has no more interest in Lynda than in any other of his scum women, and he throws her to his men without a second thought. And Lynda's only notable emotion about the Evil Overlord is hatred.
Still, you have to give credit where credit is due. Most films of Wheels of Fire's nature don't have the sense to go for the cheese. The bondage and rape would have been treated briefly and parenthetically because the writers would have instinctually shied away from such a difficult theme. They would have had one or two rape/bondage scenes because they would want to exploit those themes, but they would have done them in a lame, half-assed way, because that's who they are.
And although Wheels of Fire is a very poor excuse for a movie, it is at least not one of THOSE movies. Its makers at least had the sense to realize that It's got some game, however feeble, and in the world of cheesy postapocalyptic B-movies, that's an achievement.