The Wraith (Fantasy Sci-Fi Horror Exploding Car Film Blu-ray)


Over the last few years, Lionsgate has been slowly redeeming themselves in the eyes of cult movie fans with their Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray releases. As the vault finally opens, long-desired titles like Waxwork and Blood Diner have finally made their digital debuts in fully loaded special editions with A/V quality to match. As far as today’s title goes, The Wraith has been unleashed before but never with the amount of effort and care that Lionsgate have put into this version. In a one-horse Arizona town, Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavettes) and his oddly assembled gang of “road pirates” scam innocent yuppies out of their cars through illegal street racing on lonely desert roads. The only sign of human emotion left in Packard is his awkward and unrequited love for Kerri (Sherilyn Fenn) who seems to prefer the company of the strange new kid in town (Charlie Sheen) with the thousand-yard stare and scars all over his back. His arrival coincides with the appearance of a mysterious Dodge Turbo Interceptor that seems to pop up whenever Packard and his gang want a race.


As far as throwaway 80’s teen movies for the mall monkey set go, The Wraith isn’t half-bad. You’ve got all sorts of professional weirdos decorating the film with their unique brand of lunacy. Between Sheen’s quasi-ironic wit and wisdom, Randy Quaid’s slow burn and Clint Howard behaving like himself, this is a showcase for gimmick casting and nepotism. Despite the stunts of the casting director and some dubious errors on the basic screenplay level, The Wraith is still a hell of a good time. Why? Because of the cars. This is Grade A “Road Porn” of the highest order as director Mike Marvin and his absolutely fearless crew of stunt drivers and technicians managed to film some awe-inspiring race sequences with an obviously low budget. There are no camera tricks used to create the sensation of going fast, these cars are being pushed to the very limit, all for the sake of looking cool on film. The Vestron Video series can definitely be counted on for top-notch quality and The Wraith is no exception to the rule. The intense blues and blacks which dominate the color scheme are reproduced nicely for the empty, cruel desert scenes. Likewise, the audio pounds hard with all the sounds of 80’s Top 40 Rock and Metal way up in the mix for maximum impact. Where this set really shines is in the bonus features, which are so overwhelming and massive that it’ll be impossible to do all of them justice in one paragraph. You get two commentaries, four separate interviews, a then-and-now retrospective on the AZ shooting locations, an alternate title sequence, an isolated score and the requisite trailers, TV spots and still gallery. Maximum bang for the buck. While the film could’ve been stronger in the long run, The Wraith still works after all this time.


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

The Wraith (2021, Blu-ray)
Mike Marvin
4.2 / 5