The Wraith (1986)
And what I would have changed in it.
Today's choice for a summer movie comes in the 1986 car revenge film The Wraith. Now years ago this movie was recommended to me by a friend. It took until last year for me to finally catch it by chance and actually enjoy it quite a lot. The movie has a pretty impressive cast such as Charlie Sheen, Sherlyn Fenn, Nick Cassavetes, Randy Quaid, Griffin O' Neil, and Clint Howard. The movie was pre-winning Charlie Sheen who was fresh off one of my personal favorites Red Dawn. I'm sure he was coked beyond and back making this movie, but hey it was the 1980's…who wasn't? The reason why the Wraith stands out to me is because of what an actual fun watch it is. Pretty much The Crow before The Crow, the movie is about a strange teenager arriving in town unexpected a year after a local boy his age was found brutally murdered and his girlfriend having zero idea what happened since she blacked out the night he went missing. It doesn't take long for the local thugs who force people who take rides out in the desert, only to race, cheat, and take their cars to notice this new kid.
Well faster than you can say tiger blood, a stunning Dodge MS4 comes along and starts to challenge the thugs to impossible races. Every time the car wins, one of the punks are found dead with their eyes burned out. Who's doing this and why?
I reviewed this movie last year and despite some cheesy moments, and huge holes in the plot, I really like this movie. The standouts for me of course are the soundtrack, car, and cast. But just for shits and giggles here are 3 things I would have changed which would in my eyes make The Wraith utter perfection.
1) Change the whole Jake/Jamie thing.
- I feel this would have been a truly awesome revenge movie had they cleared up a few things about what actually happened in the past and make it more believable. First off, I would of had the opening of the movie take place a year before hand. I would have a new actor play Jamie. In fact, maybe somebody polor opposite than Mr. Sheen. For the sake of casting I'll say they should of casted Damon Martin best known for his roles in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Ghoulies II, and Amityville 1992 It's About Time. I would show Jamie being a happy go lucky teenager who seriously is the nicest guy ever. Have a good scene of him interacting with his brother, showing how close they are. Maybe even him at home with his parents, which you could have had the Jake character either visit and ride by seeing his parents still grieving him a year later. I know this is just a dumb popcorn race movie, but a little character development never hurt anyone. I would have that Jamie was a complete comic book nerd and loved to sketch. Maybe have him keep a notebook drawing a super hero called the Wraith wearing his helmet, and driving in his sports car. I could see before the beginning of the movie starts have him meet up with his girlfriend Keri and just after the two have sex an unseen group of people come in attacking them, knocking Keri out and slitting Jamie's throat. CUT TO BLACK with "Where's The Fire?" playing over the soundtrack with the credits starting as the couple driving around are forced to race the gang. I think showing how badly missed Jamie is would be better, and how his brother, family, and Keri never got over it. How even to this day it kills Keri that she can't remember what happened.
2) Make the deaths more brutal.
- Hey it's a revenge movie right? Now I know it's not a horror movie but still, they pretty much could of done whatever they wanted. Sure I liked the whole burning their eyes out thing, but maybe make it a little more personal. Maybe that's what the gang did to Jamie's corpse? They used a blow torch and burned his eyes out so maybe that's why each gang member is found that way? I maybe wouldn't have kept that even during a huge explosion their body besides their eyes aren't harmed at all. I would go nuts. Maybe a brutal garage death where a power tool is used, or maybe somebody via The Hitcher getting yanked in two. Maybe I'm just being user violent right now but I feel some crazy no nonsense gore would be exactly what the doctor ordered for this movie. Also a better death for the main villain. His pay off should have been ten times better than that!
3) Change the ending.
- I would of had of course the final race happen between the Dodge and Packard, but have like I said earlier his death be ten times better. Maybe the cars crashed and he stumbles out on fire screaming running down the highway before dropping. Whatever happened I think it should have been ten times more brutal. On top of that I would of had the Dodge slowly turn into a brand new car like in Sleepwalkers when Jake gives the car to his brother. I mean for the love of God man, your handing him the murder weapon, you could at least change it. Maybe the brother figures out who he is and there's an emotional scene of him begging him to stay and in the end Jake leaves, giving him a brand new car. I also would of had Keri take just a wee bit longer trying to figure out who Jake was. I crack up during the ending scene when he goes "You know who I am…" and it seriously takes her a second before she smiles and says "Jamie!" Ahhh…maybe have him know something only Jamie knew. I don't know, it seems that I want American fucking Beauty here when we're talking about a movie where Clint Howard's hair steals the show. Maybe it's just me.
Nevertheless, The Wraith is a fun movie changes or not that's a great watch and has an even better soundtrack!