Cult Classics: Wheels of Fire

Following the success of Mad Max 2 was a handful of post-apocalyptic B-movies. Among those was Wheels of Fire (also known as Pyro, Vindicator, and Desert Warrior), a surprisingly decent take on the post-apocalyptic genre which takes a lot of inspiration from the perfectly hammy Warriors of the Wasteland. Despite some mediocre cinematography and acting, Wheels of Fire proved to be a fast paced, action packed, and overall interesting movie. If you follow our cult classics section regularly, you know how this works by now, we’re going to break the movie into four parts.

  1. The plot
  2. Interesting concepts
  3. Cinematography
  4. The ending

The Plot: First of all, this story is massive. Warriors of the Wasteland was just as long, but most of the movie was overextended fight scenes. Wheels of Fire always has something new happening. The scale is massive and so is the synopsis.

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Our story begins with a typical not-Mad-Max archetype called Trace entering a merchant village. Here we’re introduced to his sister, Arlie, and her annoying, controlling boyfriend. In the first 5 minutes, Arlie’s boyfriend fights in a gladiatorial arena where contestants wear car keys around their necks and beat each other with PVC pipes. Don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t matter. Continue reading

What is MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival Guide?

MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival guide is a six episode long series exploring the quirky and unusual world of MUTATION, as seen in The Journal of Joe Junkman. The show itself documents the writing of the Mo-Javi Wasteland’s very first survival guide. Charged with writing this book is wasteland legend James Gray and local shyster Joe Junkman. Throughout their journey, our heroes will struggle with radioactive dust storms, water scarcity, and each other.


I want to break character for a moment to say how excited I am to be moving forward with this project. The world of MUTATION has gone through a lot of change since its conception. What originally began as a pen and paper RPG has transformed into serial fiction, a website, and a show. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

To make a long story short, Ben and I got together in the summer of 2015 and began brainstorming ideas for this short series. Although we have all the footage, brainstorming was about as far as it got. It seems embarrassing now, but we didn’t have a script or anything. Essentially, we had a concept for each episode and a location. For better or worse, almost every scene is improvisational.

When I first established this website, I had no idea what the response would be. These past few months, I’ve been consistently amazed at the hospitality and support I’ve received from the online post-apocalyptic tribe. Thank you for giving us a chance and following our stories week after week.

I’d also like to announce at this time that Ben and I are planning to attend Wasteland Weekend this year! I’ll be in character as James Gray and I believe Ben will appear as Joe Junkman.

We hope to see some of you there! The Rad-Lands wouldn’t be here without you.

-Ron Welch

Wasteland Style: Joe Junkman

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When creating the costume for the character of Joe Junkman, there were really two things going through my head: the color pallet of the costume and to make an outfit that contrasted James Gray’s costume. I started by doing some research on post-apocalyptic trader cosplays. However, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the money or the skill to make something as elaborate as the images I found online. So I decided to just wing it.

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The inspiration for Junkman’s  outfit

As Ron previously mentioned, we took a trip to the local goodwill and looked through the old clothes. I found a pair of old greenish-tan khaki pants and a huge, ugly, suit coat and vest combo. Seriously, this thing seemed to be made for Fat Albert or something. I bought the suit combo because I figured if Joe Junkman was a sleazy used car salesman type he would wear a tacky looking suit jacket. The jacket ended up being far too hot for filming in the desert in the middle of summer and it just didn’t fit right. The vest it came with however, worked perfectly.

After doing some makeshift alterations on the vest so that it would fit right I had: some green pants, a brown vest, black air force pilot boots that I borrowed from my dad, and a green hat that matched the green pants. The only major thing the outfit was missing was an undershirt and bandanna to tie the whole thing together. I had an old stack of 5 long sleeve shirts that were identical in every way except for color and about 4 different colored bandannas. I tried them all on with the rest of the outfit and basically picked my top 3 favorite combinations. From there I sent those 3 combinations to Ron and other friends and family to get their input.

The final combination worked quite well in my opinion. The dark blue shirt clashed well with Grey’s lighter colors. The dark blue also fits well with Junkman’s negative personality. The red bandana added some much needed color and the color contrast creates a focus point that draws the eye to Junkman’s face. The red bandana also serves to show to the audience that even though Junkman can be very negative at times he is still full of energy. The vest adds a little accent that breaks up the otherwise pretty boring shirt. The green pants and hat were a good way to bookend the costume and paired with the green backpack Junkman uses, it created a consistent color pallet. Little details include a broken compass around Junkman’s neck which further pushes how lost Junkman really is in the post-apocalyptic world. And some goggles resting on his hat. The goggles were pretty much added in practicality so that Junkman would be able to brave the radiation storms. Finally, I cut off the pant legs and duct tapped them back together to add some more variety to the pants.

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Once I had the costume down I took my pocket knife and marked up the shirt, vest and pants as much as I could adding holes and frayed edges. Finally Ron and I took our costumes and basically rubbed them in piles of dirt to make them feel more lived in and dirty. Now that I know a little more about weathering I know that this is a pretty ineffective way to do this. The dirt does not translate well on screen as you can barely see it. All it did was make the costumes a lot more uncomfortable to wear. It is funny though just by wearing the costumes every weekend for 3 months in the desert naturally made them look more and more weathered.

One thing I want to bring up real quick is how uncomfortable my costume was at times. This costume was incredibly uncomfortable. The long sleeves, pants tucked into the boots and bandanna all practically created a seal that trapped in all heat and sweat. Add to the fact that I was running around in character, as well as constantly setting up the camera and microphones; I was constantly worried about heat exhaustion. Several scenes where I had to carry the backpack actually made me ill. So in the future I would definitely create a costume that can breathe a lot better.

So that is pretty much my process in creating the costume for Joe Junkman. I hope I get a chance to revisit the character in the future so that I can make an updated costume for Joe. Now, I need to get back to not working on the first episode of MUTATION.

-Ben

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You never know what’s gonna sneak up on you out in the Rad-Lands!

How A Boy and His Dog Established a Genre

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Like science, fiction is often built on the shoulders of those who came before.  That is to say, most images from our imagination comes from putting a twist on what we’ve already seen. In horror, we can see a very clear progression from Poe->Lovecraft->Kolchak: the Night Stalker->X-Files. Though it seems odd to say it, building on the work of others is the surest way to come up with new ideas.

In the 1970s, post-nuclear fiction had been developing into a small (but growing) genre for nearly 20 years. Many nuclear holocaust films in the 50s and 60s were about the start (and end) of WWIII rather than survival in the radioactive wastelands to follow. Dr. Strangelove, for example, is counted as a nuclear holocaust film.

In 1975, something happened to solidify the tone of a desert wasteland. Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog provided audiences with a visual medium to express the post-atomic world. The little details in storytelling, set design, and costumes would inevitably shape the Mad Max franchise, the Fallout franchise, and much more.

A Boy and His Dog would define the tone of the post-nuclear genre in 4 ways: Continue reading