Wheels of Terror

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Wheels of Terror
Wheels of Terror.jpg
Genre Horror
Written by Alan B. McElroy
Directed by Christopher Cain
Starring Joanna Cassidy
Marcie Leeds
Carlos Cervantes
Arlen Dean Snyder
Henry Max Kendrick
Theme music composer Jay Gruska
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Richard Learman
Cinematography Richard Bowen
Editor(s) Steven Cohen
Running time 85 minutes
Production company(s) Once Upon a Time Films
Wilshire Court Productions
Distributor USA Network
Original network USA Network
Original release July 11, 1990

Wheels of Terror (also known as Terror in Copper Valley) is a 1990 American television movie directed by Christopher Cain and starring Joanna Cassidy and Marcie Leeds. The film originally debuted on the USA Network in 1990. The film revolves around the unseen driver of a black Dodge Charger, (consisting of mixed year's makes 1971, 1974) kidnapping, molesting, and sometimes murdering young girls around the fictional locale of Copper Valley, Arizona and a bus driver who chases the car, after it kidnaps her daughter played by Marcie Leeds.

Marcie Leeds was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Cable Special.[1]


The film opens on a desert highway in Arizona, where a man and his daughter have broken down on the side of the road. After a truck does not stop to help them, they are then approached by a dirt-covered black 1974 Dodge Charger. The driver of the Charger (who is never seen) then strikes the man, killing him, before backing up and abducting the screaming girl. Later, the girl is seen walking down the deserted highway, with signs of being assaulted. She is then spotted by two highway patrol officers, who put her in the back of the police car and take her to the hospital.

Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Copper Valley, Laura (Cassidy) is a newly hired bus driver who has moved from Los Angeles, California in hopes of the small town being a better place to raise her daughter, Stephanie (Leeds). One day, she encounters the black Charger as she is taking kids home from school on a 1982 Chevy G30 Wayne Busette with a modified engine. Shortly afterwards, the driver follows a young girl home and abducts her. The girl is sexually assaulted, but is later found alive, although clearly traumatized by what has happened. As the driver of the car continuously stalks Laura, it soon abducts Stephanie's friend Kim who is later found dead, floating in a nearby lake.

Laura visits the police station and talks with Detective Drummond, who says that in spite of all of the searches, nobody claims to have seen the car or it's driver. The night after Kim's funeral, the charger reappears in front of Laura's house. As Laura tries to contact the Detective, the driver continues to rev his engine and drive around the front of the house, but soon drives away into the night. The following day, Stephanie is waiting on her mother to pick her up from gymnastics practice, but Laura is delayed by a passing freight train. As Laura arrives, the charger appears and abducts Stephanie in front of her, prompting her to give chase, with kids still on the bus.

After pursuing the car through town and down dirt roads, Laura loses sight of the car is pulled over by a motorcycle cop. While the officer is talking to Laura and calling for backup, the car reappears and rams the cop, killing him instantly. The driver then speeds away with Stephanie leaning out the window, crying for help. Laura resumes the chase after the car, despite the kids continuously pleading for her to slow down. Soon, the bus nearly drives off the edge of a cliff near a train bridge. As Laura tries to restart the bus and put it in reverse, the car appears behind the bus and rams it repeatedly, trying to send it over the edge, but Laura manages to start up the bus and back it away from the edge, making the chase resume once again.

Laura chases the car to a construction site and lets the kids off, asking them to call the police at a nearby trailer. After a long hunt, the car appears and tries to run Laura down when she gets out of the bus, but she manages to climb aboard and continue the chase. As they rumble into a quarry, Laura rams the car repeatedly, but is unsuccessful at stopping it. Finally, after a lengthy chase around the quarry, Stephanie manages to climb out of the Charger and climb onto the bus to her mother. Laura then rams the Charger and sends it tumbling over the edge of a cliff. Laura and Stephanie are tearfully reunited, however, just when it seems that the whole ordeal is ending, the car unexpectedly reappears and accelerates straight towards the bus.

Laura manages to restart the bus and reverse out of the path of the speeding charger, causing the car to fly off of a cliff and drop down the into the quarry. The car lands in a small storage building full of explosives, resulting a spectacular and satisfying explosion which incinerates the car and the driver.

In the ending scene, Laura and Stephanie are seen boarding the school bus and driving off into the sunset.


  • Joanna Cassidy as Laura
  • Marcie Leeds as Stephanie
  • Carlos Cervantes as Luis
  • Arlen Dean Snyder as Detective Drummond
  • Henry Max Kendrick as Kellogg


The film currently holds a negative 4.2 rating on IMDb.[2]

Home Media[edit]

Wheels of Terror was first released on VHS on February 28, 1991 by Paramount Video.[3] On September 9, 2013, Up All Night Films released the film in a retro video format case.[4]


External links[edit]