Director: Mike Marvin
Writer: Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Matthew Barry, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, Clint Howard, and Nick Cassavetes
Joining the Vestron Collector’s Series is The Wraith an underrated cult classic sci-fi film from the last 1980s. It’s been remastered and bundled with a ton of extras. The film itself is a great treat for any classic sci-fi fan, it has a great cast, a killer soundtrack, and some great car sequences.
Four mysterious orbs fly through the dessert and collide into each other, creating a Dodge Turbo Interceptor. The next day Jake (Charlie Sheen) arrives in the small town of Brooks. He meets Keri (Sherilyn Fenn), who offers to give him directions, until her controlling boyfriend, Packard (Nick Cassavetes) stops her. Jake takes an interest in Packard, finding out what he can about the local gang leader. At the same time Packard’s gang are having run ins with the Dodge Turbo that arrived in the dessert, each race the gang has with the car leaves one of them dead.
When the film first starts, there’s two minor characters driving in a car who run into Packard’s gang. They’re challenged to a race, with the stakes being the car. You’re not quite sure what type of film it is, Packard’s gang is made up of jocks from high school, geeks and what looks like extras from Mad Max. That’s pretty much the tone of the film going forward. It’s a mix of so many other things, but it becomes its own thing. It’s strange and bizarre, and at the same time completing charming. It’s something you can’t help but enjoy.
The racing scenes all look pretty great, you get a feel of the speed of everything, and it has a few tense moments. There are no real surprises, but that doesn’t matter. The actual scenes look better than some of the racing scenes from the Fast & Furious series, that wouldn’t start until almost fifteen years later.
The cast is filled with people who would go on to become big stars in their own rights. Charlie Sheen, who would go on to star in many big hits of the era including Platoon which was released a month later. Sherilyn Fenn would star in Twin Peaks a couple of years after The Wraith. Nick Cassavetes has become a largely successful director of films such as The Notebook and My Sister’s Keeper. It’s always interesting to go back and see something from before people were as successful as they would become. The acting is a little stilted in place, and some of the dialogue feels strange, but it’s still charming.
The soundtrack is also fantastic, featuring many hits from the time from people like Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crüe and Billy Idol. The songs are interwoven into a score from Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson, that almost sounds like something John Carpenter would make. It’s simply a great soundtrack.
The new Blu-ray has some great extra features included. There are two different commentary tracks, a look at the shooting locations and how they look now, interviews with the effects team. The highlight is a behind the scenes interview with writer/director Mike Marvin, who goes into great detail about the making of the film, the inspirations, troubled production and accident that claimed the life of cameraman Bruce Ingram, who the film is also dedicated to.
The Wraith should be more widely known. It’s a really fun film and the new release does it justice. It looks and sounds great. There are a ton of great extras. If you’re into cult films or sci-fi, then this is one to pick up.
The Wraith on Blu-ray 15 November from Lionsgate UK
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