The Wraith film poster
|Directed by||Mike Marvin|
|Produced by||John Kemeny|
|Written by||Mike Marvin|
|Starring||Charles "Charlie" Sheen
|Music by||Michael Hoenig
J. Peter Robinson
|Edited by||Scott Conrad
|Distributed by||New Century Vista Film Company|
|Release date(s)||November 21, 1986|
|Running time||93 min.|
The movie is dedicated to the memory of Bruce Ingram, a camera operator who died during the filming of one of the car chases.
Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) is the ruthless leader of a criminal gang that steals the cars of people they intimidate into racing. The entire town fears him, including his "girlfriend," Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn), whom he sees as his own property. However, Keri actually despises Packard and stays with him out of fear so that he will not harm her. The town knows that Packard murdered James "Jamie" Hankins (Christopher Bradley), Keri's former boyfriend, since he was opposing him and also wanted Keri for himself. The police cannot convict him of the murder due to the absence of Jamie's body, since Packard had him buried in the desert with his gang. Packard continues to terrorize and control others through fear and intimidation.
As Packard organizes the races in the outskirts of the town, his tyrannical control of the races is suddenly at risk when a phantomlike black and grey Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor called "The Wraith" unexpectedly arrives in town. The driver of this car is covered from head to toe in a racing helmet and futuristic black body armor that conceals his identity. The armor is adorned with metal braces resembling those worn by victims recovering from severe physical trauma. He starts to appear at Packard's races, where he kills gang members, starting with Oggie Fisher (Griffin O'Neal), then Minty (Chris Nash), and finally Skank (David Sherrill) and Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian). Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid) tries to investigate the Turbo Interceptor, but the unidentified driver is impossible to find and his car is seemingly invincible, showing up only at races organized by Packard himself, causing massive amounts of destruction, and then vanishing in an electric cloud of glowing smoke.
Meanwhile, a young visitor named Jacob "Jake" Kesey (Charlie Sheen) has shown up on his Honda XL350R Enduro dirt bike to stay in town for a while. He quickly befriends both Keri and Jamie's brother William "Billy" Hankins (Matthew Barry), who works at Big Kay's, the local burger shack. Jake has multiple scars around his neck and body, which he keeps a secret for how he got him. Keri becomes interested in him.
As Packard's gang grows smaller with each death, Rughead (Clint Howard), the gang's tech-geek who organizes races and who alone, among them, did not participate in Jamie's murder, realizes that the gang is being targeted because of the murder and quits the gang in fear of his life and flees the town in fear of Packard. Keri herself is suspicious of who Jake is. When she confronts him over this, he tells her to ask Packard, explaining that Packard knows why Jake is here. Jake says that he has come a long way for Keri and his time is just about over.
Packard, now the last member of his disbanded gang, confronts Keri at Big Kay's over her association with Jake and forces her to leave with him. When Billy attempts to intervene, Packard beats him and kidnaps Keri, telling her that they will flee to California. When she confronts him with the knowledge that it was he who murdered Jamie, he becomes physically abusive and tells her that she belongs to him. As he stops the car and pulls a switchblade on her, the Turbo Interceptor confronts them and challenges Packard to a race. As with the others, Packard dies in a fiery explosion, and the Wraith again emerges unscathed. No members of Packard's gang are left alive except Rughead, and a frustrated Sheriff Loomis abandons both the investigation and the pursuit of the Turbo Interceptor.
As Keri arrives home that night, the Turbo Interceptor pulls up to the curb and a driver emerges, who reveals himself to be Jake. Jake tells an incredulous Keri that he is actually a reincarnated version of Jamie, and that his new body is the closest he could be to his reincarnation of the original Jamie, much to Keri's shock and surprise. He then asks her to wait for him because he has one last thing to take care of.
Jake goes to Big Kay's, accidentally scaring Billy. He calms Billy down and gives him the keys to the Turbo Interceptor, the only one of its kind, telling him that his work here is finished, and that "there are instructions in the glove compartment." Billy asks, "Who are you, bro?" To this, Jake replies, "You said it, Billy." As Jake rides off on his dirt bike, Billy comes to the grief-stricken realization that Jake is, in fact, his older brother Jamie.
Jake picks up Keri, who was being watched by Sheriff Loomis, and together they ride off into the night on his dirt bike, leaving the city for good.
- Charlie Sheen as Jake Kesey / The Wraith
- Matthew Barry as William "Billy" Hankins
- Sherilyn Fenn as Keri Johnson
- Randy Quaid as Sheriff Loomis
- Clint Howard as Rughead
- Nick Cassavetes as Packard Walsh
- David Sherrill as Skank
- Jamie Bozian as Gutterboy
- Griffin O'Neal as Oggie Fisher
- Chris Nash as Minty
- Christopher Bradley as James "Jamie" Hankins
The score was composed and performed by Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson, two famous synth composers of movie and TV series Soundtracks. The soundtrack was recorded by Rick Hart and entirely played on a NED Synclavier II and has been long unreleased.
Many famous 1980s hits in rock music have been included in this soundtrack:
- Tim Feehan – "Where's the Fire"
- Ozzy Osbourne – "Secret Loser"
- Stan Bush – "Hearts vs. Heads"
- Ian Hunter – "Wake Up Call"
- Mötley Crüe – "Smokin' in the Boys Room"
- Robert Palmer – "Addicted to Love"
- Nick Gilder – "Scream of Angels"
- Lion – "Power Love"
- Honeymoon Suite – "Those Were the Days"
- Lion – "Never Surrender"
- Bonnie Tyler – "Matter of the Heart"
- LaMarca – "Hold on Blue Eyes"
- Billy Idol – "Rebel Yell"
- Jill Michaels – "Young Love, Hot Love"
- James House – "Bad Mistake"
The movie was released on VHS by Lightning Video and on LaserDisc by Image Entertainment in 1987. In 2003, the movie was released on DVD by Platinum Disc Corporation (now Echo Bridge Home Entertainment). In spite of having no special features and only being shown in pan and scan, there is some footage that was missing from the original VHS and LaserDisc releases. LionsGate released a special edition DVD on March 2, 2010.
- "After All These Years ... Mike Marvin Talks The Wraith". Dread Central. March 17, 2010.
- "Cinema Insomnia, with your Horror Host, Mister Lobo! – SHOW INFORMATION". Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- "The Wraith Roars Back to DVD Courtesy of Lionsgate!". Dread Central. December 8, 2009.
- The Wraith at the Internet Movie Database
- The Wraith at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Wraith at AllMovie
- The Wraith at Box Office Mojo
- Filming locations for The Wraith
- The Wraith Car – Official Restoration website (loads slowly)
- The Wraith Facebook site
- The Wraith Website – The Wraith Fan Site (Details About DVD/VHS Releases, Photos, Soundtrack and more!)
- The Wraith Music – The Wraith Music Fan Site