Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, and Randy Quaid star in this turbocharged cult classic! When four glowing orbs crash into each other over the Arizona desert, they leave in their wake a badass Dodge Turbo Interceptor — and its enigmatic, helmeted driver. The next day, the mysterious Jake (Sheen) appears in the town of Brooks, catching the eye of Keri (Fenn) and the ire of Packard (Cassavetes), the ruthless leader of a gang of street racers. When gang members start losing races — and lives — to the Interceptor, the recent death of Keri’s boyfriend suddenly seems connected to the arrival of Jake, the unbeatable car…and an avenging entity called The Wraith.
What We Thought:
Not only had I never seen The Wraith, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of it. When I first saw the press release that it was joining the Vestron Video Collector’s Series I confused it with another movie. After watching it, I can understand why it’s not a beloved 1980s film starring Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Randy Quaid, Sherilyn Fenn, Clint Howard and more. I can also see it being a cult classic to some people who will absolutely eat up this new Blu-ray release though.
The biggest issue with the film is that it makes zero sense and doesn’t explain any part of it. It opens with the local bad kids hassling a boyfriend and girlfriend in a car. The guy is forced to race, is almost killed and loses his ride. Then we are introduced to Charlie Sheen’s Jake who plays the new guy in town with no family, friends or even a suitcase. We first see him on a motorcycle and he asks directions from Sherilyn Fenn’s character. Her boyfriend (Nick Cassavetes) pulls up and he’s the leader of the bad kids we met 10 minutes earlier. Also in this beginning we see glowing orbs in the sky and we are left to assume it has something to do with space.
Then we go to a swimming hole with everyone having fun. Sheen’s character makes friends with a local who works at the burger joint and Cassavetes tells his crew to keep an eye on him. As the story continues, there is a fantastic car, a concept car from Dodge, that shows up and races one of the bad kids. It blows up the kid and you start realizing whoever is in the car is out for revenge. He’s all in black and wears a helmet and looks like he’s from space. Every win/kill he has a piece of him disappear and that is never explained. Why the dead bodies have their eyes missing and have no other issues isn’t explained either.
Those aren’t the only unexplained plot details. We figure out who Sheen is and there are flashbacks to a bad event, but how is Sheen who he is? The glowing orbs make you think space/aliens, but there’s no explanation. They mention Fenn’s character being wrapped in a Navajo blanket after the bad event, is all this happening because of Native American stuff? A wraith is a ghost/poltergeist, but by film’s end it seems to be real and continues living. None of it makes sense to me.
The explosions and kills in The Wraith are good. There is violence and nudity making it your typical PG-13 film of the 1980s, the boobs would make it R today. It’s campy enough to make it watchable, but the complete lack of explaining any of it leaves you questioning all of it. It seems like Charlie Sheen was only around for a day or so to shoot his scenes and you can tell in one scene it’s clearly a stand-in. The film wants to be Mad Max/The Road Warrior with sci-fi elements like Close Encounters, but it’s nowhere near any of those. The car is killer (pun intended), but if you aren’t a crazy diehard for the film, you might not get much out of it. If you are a diehard, it comes with a ton of bonus features and looks good on Blu-ray.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Mike Marvin
- Audio Commentary with Actors Dave Sherrill and Jamie Bozian
- “Tales from the Desert” — An Interview with Writer-Director Mike Marvin
- “Rughead Speaks!” — An Interview with Actor Clint Howard
- “Ride of the Future” — Interviews with Stunt Coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker and Transportation Coordinator Gary Hellerstein
- “The Ghost Car” — Interviews with Visual Effects Producer Peter Kuran and Effects Animator Kevin Kutchaver
- Isolated Score Selections Featuring Audio Interview with Co-Composer J. Peter Robinson
- “The Wraith Filming Locations: Then and Now” Featurette
- Alternate Title Sequence
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
Charlie Sheen TV’s “Anger Management” and “Two and a Half Men,” Wall Street
Nick Cassavetes Face/Off, The Hangover Part II, TV’s “Entourage”
Sherilyn Fenn TV’s “Twin Peaks,” “Goliath,” and “S.W.A.T.”
Randy Quaid Brokeback Mountain, Independence Day, Kingpin