The Wraith (1986)
PLOT - A group of thugs rule the desert highways by forcing teens to race against them in order to steal their cars. The year before hand, the leader of the gang discovered his girlfriend in bed with a young boy named Jamie. In a fit of rage the thugs stab Jamie to death and beat the girlfriend to the point she doesn't remember a thing from that night. Months later, Jamie returns as a mystical figure in the form of Jake otherwise known as The Wraith. A powerful force that drives a mysterious sports can that's unstoppable. One by one the members of the gang fall victim as Jake collects revenge.
LOWDOWN - I'll be the first to admit, as a HUGE fan of cheesy 80's movies, I had never heard about this movie until a year ago. My buddy Matt, who I know for the Monster Mania conventions one night recommended this hidden gems telling me it was right up my ally. I viewed the trailer, and was pretty impressed but for some strange reason I never got around to watching it. Well this rainy shitty Monday, I stayed home sick (COOL stomach bug COOL) So I curled up and saw that this movie was coming on. I knew I most likely would never get the chance to watch this movie again, so I settled down with my dog Butterbean and a nice hot cup of tea and almost instantly was sold.
I can't stress enough how much I LOVE cheesy 80's movies. (Thrashin', My Science Project, Radioactive Dreams, Dangerously Close, ect.) This type of movie is my idea of a great time. First off, what an opening! A huge reason why movies like this work is because it was made during a time that pretty much all music rocked. The soundtrack to this movie was a huge plus in my eyes. In fact the opening song "Where's the fire." has been on repeat in my house most of the day. Director Mike Marvin did a pretty good job even if his credits are less than impressive. The high speed car scene were done in a stylish, yet stomach turning way (or maybe that's because I have the flu?) Still, as a huge fan of high speed car chase movies, this was another huge reason why I liked it so much.
The setting was stunning. Arizona never looked so nice. Loved the scene where the teens are floating down that little river thing. Would love to find the location to that place someday. The cast was another big thing.
First we have Charlie Sheen. (Yes, right after Red Dawn) so it's 80's coked up Charlie Sheen. Not 90's coked up Charlie Sheen, or 2000's coked up Charlie Sheen, or Winning and still coked up Charlie Sheen...but Sheen when he was still adorable and the coke love was very likable and suited him well. Next is the ever so stunning Sherilyn Fenn. I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting Ms. Fenn. But as a massive Twin Peaks fan, she in my eyes is one of the most gorgeous actress out there. She made this right after Thrashin', she was stunning but her acting really hadn't gotten there yet...but maybe it was the weak script.
Nick Cassavetes played a great villain asshole, very 80's and it worked for him. (I always remember him from Face/Off bleeding from the neck.) who would have known the director or The Notebook could be such a dick!
There are other supporting characters, such as Griffin O'Neil, and Clint Howard (awesome hair by the way.) Still, with such a cool story I sorta wish the casting could have been a bit better. Hey it's Stacy we're talking about, back in 1986 there are at least seven different men I could have seen do a better job but maybe it's just me wanting eye candy...who knows.
The action was great (awesome explosions, crash scenes, ect.) my only big problem was the weak script, and the plot holes. So...Jamie is Jake? How come nobody remembers him? Also how did the thugs get away with the murder? How doesn't Keri doesn't remember anything? Why are the thugs found unburned with their eyes burned out? Also when Jake gives the car to his brother...isn't that police evidence? Wouldn't he be putting a murder weapon into his brother's hands?
Where do the leads go to the end? The moon? Heaven?
Yeah, a stronger screenplay could have worked. I like to think this was The Crow for the 1980's. Had a stronger screenplay happened...who knows maybe more people would have known about this classic.
My favorite scene has to be when Packard drags Keri into his car at the burger joint and beats up on Jake's brother and NOBODY helps him. Um Keri? How about getting out of the fucking car?
Still with cool classic 80's artwork, a clever story, a cool car, and a great soundtrack The Wraith is a classic I'm going to have to have in my collect for sure!