The Wraith
Dir: Mike Marvin
Star: Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassvetes, Randy Quaid
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1986
Format: DVD R2

A small town in Arizona is terrorised by a gang of psychotic speed freaks, who race their cars to win other peoples cars or kill them and the police can't do anything about it. The gang led by the deranged Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) has the town in a grip of fear, and is responsible for the murder of a local man called Jamie whose body was never found and whose girlfriend Keri (Sherilyn Fenn) has no recollection of the event.

A new guy called Jake (Charlie Sheen) rides into town on his funny sounding motorbike (bare chested denim jacket and big 80's hair) and after offering Keri a ride on the back of his bike makes and instant enemy of Packard. Very soon a mysterious black custom sports car (that kicks ass!) shows up and one by one the gang of illegal road racers start to lose more than just a race in quite spectacular fashion, and leaving their corpses completely unmarked and clean and missing their eyeballs.

Somewhat disturbed by these events Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid) the local cop struggles to investigate but not receiving any co-operation from Packard and his cronies makes it even harder for him as they seem to be the only people affected. Loomis is eventually steered toward the untimely death of Jamie Hankins for clues and he eventually learns that there is much more to these deaths than anyone could have thought possible.

Okay I admit it, the first time I saw this movie I thought that it was great. But, that was way back in 1986, when I was almost young. Compared to modern movies this film does have some pretty bad points, admittedly the worst point is quite possibly the CHEESY dialogue.

On the plus side it does contain some fine car chases and races and a couple of very nice looking sports cars. Also some fine 80's womens fashions (tight crop tops & mini skirts) and an excellent rock soundtrack featuring Billy Idol and Ozzy Osbourne. Pre-dating The Crow by 10 years for the avenging angel back from the dead theme The Wraith is a superb story and the playing field of road racing is an excellent arena for retribution. A little bit mushy in places and some of the dialogue is pretty badly scripted leading to the classification of cheesy but the film does have generally good performances. Sherilyn Fenn is her attractive best as Keri in a splendid eye candy sort of way. Randy Quaid well, he has done some better and some worse roles, but basically he really does ham his way through the film. Charlie Sheen is not bad as the lead but it can be a little painful to watch but that is more the script than his acting talent. (which we know he has, but recently better at hitting reporters & photographers) Nick Cassavetes on the other hand is hard to watch and gives a dire performance as "the ruthless" Packard Walsh, and possibly the only person that is as bad if not a little worse as a villain is Bruce Payne.

Compared to more recent films The Wraith doesn't hold it's own as well as one would hope, the special effects are disappointing and nowadays do look pretty bad. The driving direction is good and with the exception of the ocassional shadow from the camera truck they are exhilarating but for driving photography Ronin has set a new standard. The direction of Mike Marvin with the exception of the racing scenes is a little poor and as he also wrote the story and script it may be fairer to blame any short comings the film may have upon him, especially as he ended up writing Macgyver. But against all better judgement The Wraith is a good 80's movie, embracing the fashionable trends of that time with fast cars, rock music, cheesy sayings ("I'm tweaking dude")?? and a burger bar packed with hot waitresses on roller skates, well worth a nostalgic watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Widescreen Generally grainy but reasonable transfer
Audio Mono Dissappointing, barely adequate
Features Horrendous, impractical to navigate static menu
Picture Gallery
Verdict Nice to see the film on DVD because it was almost impossible to get on Video but the serious lack of extras is disappointing. Only real extra is a small stills gallery, but navigating a bland and difficult to see menu is frustrating.

Rating: 0 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home