2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 15: Wired to Kill (1986)

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran on September 16, 2019, as part of our month-long post-apocalyptic tribute blow out. You can catch up on those reviews with our two-part “Atomic Dust Bin” round ups HERE and HERE.

Day 15: Hell on Four Wheels: Must involve characters in wheelchairs.

No matter how many years pass . . . and how many copies of this VHS non-starter ended up in the dumpsters behind video stores . . . copies of this film keep coming back at me. Every video store rack I’ve browsed. Every Drive-In swap shop I’ve perused. Every Goodwill and Salvation Army, every pawn shop, and every garage sale I’ve visited. Even the weirdo-halitosis tape guy with a cubicle at the local indoor festival flea market . . . there’s yet another friggin’ copy of Wired to Kill staring back at me. Next to the apoc-swill that is America 3000 and Robot Holocaust, this film has to be one of the best-distributed VHS tapes of the video-fringe era. It’s like that copy of Corky Romono stuck to my shoe that I can’t scrape off.

Oh, what the hell? WTF! You’ve got to be friggin’ kidding me!

There I was, at my public library branch’s annual used book sale . . . and there it is, again. I gave up. I plopped down two quarters. I should have went into the recreation center next door to get off on the old broads jazzercising and buy a faux Dr. Pepper (a Mr. Pibb) instead, take home my 10 cent copy of Herman Hesse’s Demian and April Wine’s Harder Faster on cassette . . . and called it a day.

In an utter lack of budget and scripting with a group of drop outs and flunk outs from the Ed Wood School of Thespian Studies starring as the marauding hoards of 1998 (another “future” that looks like our present, only with a couple of flashing-and-bleeping gadgets), this dropping of celluloid borrows (poorly) from the The Road Warrior and the cute and cuddly sci-fi romp Short Circuit, and the family favorite . . . Home Alone!

The two actors that passed Ed’s class on “Octopus Battles” — our heroes Steve and Rebecca — don’t fare much better on their road to Oscar gold as two teens who suffer at the hands of the ubiquitous punk rock rapist survivors (bossed by Merritt Butrick, who went from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to this in four short years?) of the worldwide plague. Turns our little wheelchair-bound Stevie has a pet robot and is quite the computer and electronics whiz — with a knack for setting booby traps (the Home Alone part) and soups up his chair with gadgets (the Short Circuit part) to battle the crazies (the Road Warrior part).

Does a sorely needed Wez (Vernon Wells) from The Road Warrior come crashing through the wall in a cameo appearance like he did in the über cool sci-fi comedy, Weird Science? (You wish.) Does anyone “pull a Chet” and transform into a pile of poopy-goo?

No, but this tape sure does. Yep, renting from the video fringe is like a pile of poop. You never know badly the post-apoc crouch rot is gonna smell. And any film that tells us with a text scroll — accompanied by an annoying David Sanborn jazz saxophone backing track (ripped off from the jazz trumpeter shtick in 2019: After the Fall of New York) — on how we got here, is the first scent of apoc-crouch rot.

And that’s all I am going to say about that. Well, one more thing: don’t be booby trapped by this gem’s alternate VHS title: Booby Trap . . . uh, oh!

. . . Unwanted Film Trivia Alert . . . Unwanted Film Trivia Alert . . . this is not a drill . . . abort all reading . . . log off of B&S Movies . . . this is not a drill . . . too much virtual cyber ink has been giving to this film already . . . abort . . . abort . . .

Emily Longstreth, who stars as Rebecca, worked alongside Johnny Depp in 1985’s Private Resort, was Kate (?) in 1986’s Pretty in Pink, and appeared in (yes!) the Alien-cum-E.T knock off, Star Crystal (1986). But we lads and lassies slumming on the video fringe best remember Emily for her turn in Krishna Shah’s T&A epic, American Drive-In (1985). (Come on, now. You remember Krishna Shah . . . Hard Rock Zombies? I know! The dude was a double-graduate from Yale and UCLA . . . and he made Hard Rock Zombies!)

And I was shocked . . . SHOCKED to see . . . Kim Milford of Laserblast, who deserved better that this mess (the dude was on Broadway in Hair, Rocky Horror, and Jesus Christ Superstar), as one of the thugs, Rooster (check out my admiration for Kim’s music career on Medium).

As for director Francis Schaeffer: He brought us Headhunter (1988; voodoo murder mayhem in Miami starring the always hot Kay Lenz of White Line Fever, along with Wayne Crawford), Rising Storm (1989; a really dopey post-apoc dropping not worth more of a mention beyond this sentence . . . starring Zach Galligan from Gremlins, Spinal Tap’s June Chadwick from Forbidden World, and more Wayne Crawford . . . which, I dare you, Sam, I dare you, to review Rising Storm), and . . .  did you know there’s actually a film based on those ‘80s automotive-suction cup “Baby on Board” signs? Yep, Francis made it: Baby on Board (1992).

Yep. When it comes to the VHS fringes, I am wired in, baby. 

If you must complete your post-apoc shakes, Wired to Kill is on You Tube.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

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