The Wraith (1986)
By: Paul Ryan on October 9, 2009  | 
Beyond (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 93 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, Nick Cassavettes
Screenplay: Mike Marvin
Country: USA
External Links
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A gang of rev-head teen punks led by Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) have been regularly bullying and terrorizing the youth of Tuscon, Arizona. Forcing people into dangerous drag races (with their cars and/or girlfriends as the prizes), the gang are also responsible for the murder of local kid Jamie (Christopher Bailey). Packard is now circling Jamie's former girlfriend Keri (Sherilyn Fenn), who is unaware that he killed Jamie, but she is far more drawn to Jake (Charlie Sheen), the mysterious new kid in town. Also new in town is a mysterious, black-clad, helmeted figure who drives a top-of-the-line (for 1986, anyway) Dodge Turbo Interceptor. Able to inexplicably appear and vanish at random, this figure – dubbed The Wraith – begins to pick off Packard's gang one-by-one. Trying to work it all out is local Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid). Just who is The Wraith? Is he human? Alien? Or something else altogether…?

With a cast full of celebrity relatives (which also includes Griffin – son of Ryan – O'Neal, and Clint Howard), a soundtrack featuring Billy Idol, Stan Bush and Robert Palmer, and more stonewash denim than you could poke a bogan at, The Wraith is a hilarious, deeply guilty pleasure. The pace is fast, the car chases – which tragically claimed the life of assistant cameraman Bruce Ingram – tightly choreographed and shot, and the dialogue ("I guess you could call us blood lovers, because that's how much I love you") gleefully absurd. While Sheen and Fenn are admittedly pretty wooden, the rest of the cast clearly have great fun, with rampant scenery chewing from the gang members, and an especially amusing turn from a then 27-year-old Howard (looking like he was made over by Thomas Dolby) as the token nerd in the "teen" gang. The Arizona desert settings add an extra layer of atmosphere to a film that would have been ideal drive-in viewing back in the day, but still makes for excellent beer-and-pizza viewing at home.
This locally-authored (by StreamAV) release of The Wraith boasts a first-rate video transfer. 16x9-enhanced, and crystal clear throughout, picture quality is stunning. There are a couple of nicks and scratches in the print, but they're not particularly noticeable.
The 2.0 stereo track is also of a very high quality. Crisp and well-modulated throughout.
Extra Features
There are no extras at all, though honestly, the fact that this little B-movie got such a good transfer feels like a bonus in itself.
The Verdict
The Wraith is about as eighties a film as you could ever get, with a cornucopia of mullets, neon and drum machine beats. It's a barmy, but dumbly enjoyable ride, and comes on a technically excellent – if bare-bones – DVD.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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