The Wraith (1986)
Director: Mike Marvin
A dead dude (Sheen) comes back from the grave with a slick supernatural car and proceeds to eliminate the road pirates that put him in the ground.
"The Wraith" was another one of my top choices when I was a kid. Watching it today, it doesn’t fully pass the test of time but it's still a silly, macho crowd-pleaser.
The flick starts off with a very kool premise. I’ve always been a sucker for the “back from the dead and out for revenge” thang. Unfortunately this one doesn’t milk its set-up for all its worth. Any tension that could’ve been felt in regards to the situation is totally absent. The film just lightly glazes over its themes and never really takes the time to get into them. The love subplot for example should’ve been poignant but here, it feels like a poor excuse to give us a break from all the car race sequences. No thought out script here.
Since the film handles most of its more profound elements with a clumsy hand, it winds up being an hour and a half reason to show hot cars and somewhat exciting car-racing scenes with kool eighties pop/rock tunes booming in the background. Nothing wrong with that, yo! If you’re a car jock, you’ll get a hard-on seeing the multitude of slick rides this flick puts out (jacked up Corvette, Firebird etc.) and even the non-car junkies (like myself…) will marvel at the kooler than kool Dodge Interceptor the wraith drives. Now that’s a freaking car and a half!
Although the film doesn’t work on a “dramatic” level, it sure holds its own in the cheese department. The script is filled with corny lines (Randy Quaid has all the best ones), the acting is so wooden that it's funny and Nick Cassavetes’ super bad boy character cracked me up. That dude is just plain damn EVIL! The film also sports many classic “tacky” sequences. The love scene in the water with that “Hold On Blue Eyes” song playing in the background is one for the books, the scene with the Wraith attacking the boys while wearing a huge helmet is another keeper and the scenes with Skank and Gutterboy acting like morons are priceless.
But in the end, "The Wraith" isn’t scary and the script is filled with more holes than my last date (how come nobody ever suspected Packard of the crime…it's so obvious) but it does offer us a gnarly premise, some kool cars, loud explosions, a couple of moody moments, some laughably bad acting, some "so bad, they’re good" visual effects (all about those flying lights) and some kicking tunes. If you like your B-movies heavy on the B-sauce than hit this one like Charlie Sheen on a hooker spree.
We get corpses with their eyes missing, a bit of blood courtesy of a knife and Charlie Sheen’s acting.
Was that really Charlie Sheen (Jake) or a cardboard cut-out of Charlie Sheen? The man is incredibly stiff here. Nick Cassavetes (Packard) has fun with the part and delivers an overly evil show. Man, that dude is bad! Sherilyn Fenn (Keri) is so "off" and didn’t convince me for a second. She’s still pleasant to the eye though. Randy Quaid (Loomis) spits out one-liners and growls a lot. Matthew Barry (Billy) does fine as the normal guy. I liked his emotional moment near the end. David Sherril (Skank) is hilarious as the wired junkie. Is Jamie Bozian (Gutter) a retard in real life? I bought it and then some.
T & A
Charlie goes shirtless but more importantly Sherilyn Fenn drops her top too! Wow…girl looks great!
Marvin loves those titled angles, he overuses them like a champ. The race sequences could’ve used a little bit more pep though; they aren’t as exciting as they should’ve been. Marvin does inject enough slick style and moody shots into the flick to keep you watching. Overall, a decent job.
If you dig eighties pop rock, you will be well served here. My fav songs have to be: “Where’s The Fire”, “Never Surrender” and “Secret Loser” by the Oz man himself. The tunes in this flick put the “Top Gun” soundtrack to shame. Good shite! And yes...I own it!
"The Wraith" could’ve been "The Crow" on wheels but the lack of exploration in respect to its emotional themes, kills that potential. The script needed a good polish. What’s left is just a fun, cheesy B-grade opus. Can you really go wrong with a ghost-killing hoodlums with his supernatural souped up car? Can you go wrong with an overly evil Nick Cassavetes or an engaging 80’s pop/rock score? You can’t. "The Wraith" is fun times for all the wrong reasons.
Nick Cassavetes (Packard) is the son of actor/director John Cassavetes.
Nick Cassavetes followed in his father’s footsteps. He’ s directed “Unhook The Stars” (David Sherril/Skank and Jamie Bozian/Gutterboy popped up in that one), “She’s So Lovely” (with Sean Penn) and the upcoming “John Q” (with Denzel Washington).