Story: As the roads become overrun with drag racers, hot rod daredevils, and old guys who just happen to be in a hurry, some have taken extra precautions while behind the wheel, but not everyone and the accidents continue to pile up. Meanwhile, Micky (Darryl Hickman) intends to not only hit the road soon and often, but he will be driving a hot rod down the streets. He is fixing up his own street racer, though of course, he promises his parents that he will never race. Micky’s dad really hammers home the importance of road safety, at least until he is the one driving, then he is like a bat out of hell and nearly starts a riot on the side of the road after an accident. Can anyone keep the roads safe or will someone like Micky or his loved ones be the next hot rod victims?
Entertainment Value: I have a soft spot for melodramatic juvenile delinquent movies, so I had some fun here with The Devil on Wheels. While it does involve a main narrative thread of juveniles causing chaos on the road however, this film more or less paints everyone as a terrible driver, not just the scandalous youth running wild in the streets. In other words, this feels a lot like a general public service piece to try to scare drivers of all ages into safer travel choices, but there is certainly a juvenile delinquent element, it just takes a while to ramp up. As expected, the movie is over the top and filled with preaching about safety, so a lot of the dialogue is humorous and the performances are very dialed up. An argument between old men after an accident was a highlight for me, as there was such an odd, campy vibe to how it unfolds, too bad the entire movie isn’t that hilarious. But while some scenes fail to spark much entertainment, the barely over an hour runtime keeps thigs brisk and the driving scenes help as well, since they provide some wackiness on the roads. I had fun with The Devil on Wheels, it might not be a classic, but if you like this old school social scare movies, it is worth a look.
I don’t think anyone here really stands out as a master thespian, but the cast is fun to watch and makes the material as hokey as it deserves. Damian O’Flynn cracked me up often however, so I think he is the stand out of the picture. His banter at the scene of a car accident is nothing short of hilarious, then his luck continues to spiral downward for more laughs. The transition from car accident to courtroom was a highlight of The Devil on Wheels, as O’Flynn is such a smug, slappable character here. William Forrest as Judge Tanner is almost as much fun to watch, especially when he and O’Flynn go toe to toe, in the scenes that steal the show. The cast also includes Noreen Nash, James Cardwell, Darryl Hickman, Terry Moore, and Lenita Lane.