The Wraith is a 1986 independently made American action-fantasy film, produced by John Kemeny, written and directed by Mike Marvin, and starring Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassavetes, and Randy Quaid.[3] The film was theatrically released November 21, 1986, on just 88 screens in the United States by New Century Vista Film Company (later New Century Entertainment Corporation).

The Wraith
Theatrical release poster.
The tagline: "He's not from around here."[1]
Directed byMike Marvin
Written byMike Marvin
Produced byJohn Kemeny
CinematographyReed Smoot
Edited byScott Conrad
Gary Rocklen
Music byMichael Hoenig
J. Peter Robinson
New Century Entertainment Corporation
Alliance Entertainment
Turbo Productions
Distributed byNew Century Vista Film Company
Release date
  • November 21, 1986 (1986-11-21) (US)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
BudgetCan$8 million[2]
Box office$3.5 million worldwide, $1,402,535 in the US

Plot Edit

In the town of Brooks, Arizona, Packard Walsh, the leader of a gang of car thieves, coerces people with fast cars into racing with the winner of the race taking ownership of the loser's car. Packard controls everyone through intimidation including Keri Johnson, whom he views as his property. Keri's boyfriend, Jamie Hankins, was the victim of an unsolved murder and Keri, who was with him, has no memory of the traumatic event.

Jake Kesey arrives in Brooks riding a dirt bike. He befriends Billy Hankins (Jamie's brother) and Keri. While swimming at a river, Jake is shown to have knife scars on his neck and back.

Packard's control of the illegal races comes to an end when an all-black Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor supercar appears with a driver covered head-to-toe in black body armor and helmet, and metal braces resembling those worn by victims of physical trauma. The driver challenges Packard's gang to a race, ending in high-speed, explosive crashes in which one of the gang members is killed. His body appears unharmed afterwards except for burned-out eye sockets. The Turbo Interceptor then reconstructs itself and eludes the pursuing Sheriff Loomis in a cloud of glowing light.

Two more gang members, Skank and Gutterboy, are killed when the Turbo Interceptor races through the gang's warehouse, causing an explosion. With Rughead, the gang's tech-geek, witnessing it from a distance. Rughead, who had nothing to do with the gang murdering Jamie, figures out why the each of the gang members had been targeted. When Loomis arrives at the scene of the destruction, Rughead tells him Packard and his gang had murdered Jamie Hankins.

Now his gang mostly gone, Packard decides to flee town. He kidnaps Keri and beats up Billy when he tries to intervene. When Packard tries driving to California, Keri resists. As they both exit the car and he pulls a knife on her, the Turbo Interceptor arrives and challenges Packard to a race. Packard accepts and is then killed in an explosive head-on collision with the Turbo Interceptor, like the rest of his gang were. Loomis calls off the hunt for the mysterious driver, believing it to be futile.

As Keri arrives home that night, the Turbo Interceptor pulls up and Jake emerges. Keri realizes that Jake is a revived form of her dead boyfriend Jamie, who had returned for a chance to rekindle their past relationship. He then asks her to wait for him because he has one last thing to do. Jake then gives his car to Billy. When Billy asks who he is Jake says that Billy already knows and as he rides off on his dirt bike, Billy then realizes Jake is Jamie. Jake picks up Keri, whom Loomis is watching from a distance. Together they ride off along the desert highway into the moonlight.

Cast Edit

  • Charlie Sheen as Jake Kesey / The Wraith / Jamie Hankins
  • Matthew Barry as Billy Hankins
  • Sherilyn Fenn as Keri Johnson
  • Randy Quaid as Sheriff G.L. Loomis
  • Clint Howard as "Rughead"
  • Nick Cassavetes as Packard Walsh
  • David Sherrill as Maurice "Skank"
  • Jamie Bozian as "The Gutterboy"
  • Griffin O'Neal as Oggie Fisher
  • Chris Nash as "Minty"
  • Christopher Bradley as Jamie Hankins
  • Vickie Benson as The Waitress
  • Jeffrey Sudzin as "Redd", Skank's uncle
  • Peder Melhuse as Deputy Murphy
  • Michael Hundrtford as Deputy Stokes
  • Dick Alexander as Deputy Sandeval
  • Steven Eckholdt as George, Boy In Daytona
  • Elizabeth Cox as Girl In Daytona
  • Joan H. Reynolds as Policewoman

Production Edit

Shooting locations Edit

The Wraith was shot entirely in and around Tucson, Arizona; shots of the hilly road leading into the fictional "Brooks, AZ" were filmed on Freeman Road on the city's southeast side. Keri's (Sherilyn Fenn) home is located at 2128 East 5th Street.

Sheriff Loomis goes to talk to Skank and Gutterboy at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, at the airplane graveyard where they both work. The film's swimming hole is located in Sabino Canyon, off North Upper Sabino Canyon Road. The curvy mountain road where Packard and his gang challenge other cars to deadly races is the General Hitchcock/Catalina/Mount Lemmon Highway that winds through natural stone monoliths north of the city. Skank and Gutterboy chase after Jamie and Keri down North 4th Avenue at East 7th Street. The portion of the chase that leads into a tunnel is the since-redone tunnel on North 4th Avenue, where it crosses under railroad tracks; Jake and Keri are seen riding down the road through Sabino Canyon Recreation Area (near Sabino Lake Dam) northeast of Tucson.

Bruce Ingram, a camera operator, died during the filming of one of the car chases; another crew member was seriously injured.[3]

Turbo Interceptor Edit

The Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor used in the film was originally a pace car built by Chrysler Corporation and PPG Industries. Six copies were made for use in the film: two stunt cars made from molds of the original car and four non-drivable "dummies" that were destroyed during filming. During production, the real Dodge Turbo Interceptor was used in close-ups. That original was located at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, MI until 2016, when the museum closed permanently.[4]

Soundtrack Edit

Original motion picture soundtrack on vinyl

The music score was composed and performed by Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson, two famous synth composers of film and TV series Soundtracks. The soundtrack LP was recorded by Rick Hart and entirely played on a NED Synclavier II.

Many famous 1980s rock music hits are included on the film's soundtrack:

Release Edit

The Wraith was released in the United States on November 21, 1986. In the Philippines, the film was released as Black Moon Rising: Part-2 on April 29, 1987, connecting it to the unrelated film Black Moon Rising starring Tommy Lee Jones.[5] In Germany, it was released on June 11, 1987, under the title "Interceptor - Phantom der Ewigkeit" (Interceptor - Phantom of Eternity).[6][circular reference]

Critical response Edit

The Wraith received mixed reviews from critics. Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin dismissed the film as "... for those who favor fast cars and lots of noise."[7] In the Time Out review, editor John Pym saw The Wraith having "comic-strip killer car thieves" with "...the best joke having one of the thugs knowing the word 'wraith.'"[8]

The Wraith holds a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on fourteen reviews.[9]

Home video Edit

In 1987 the film was released to VHS video by Lightning Video, then on LaserDisc by Image Entertainment; it was then released in 2003 on DVD by Platinum Disc Corporation (now Echo Bridge Home Entertainment). In spite of having no special features and only being available in the pan-and-scan format, there is footage retained that was missing on the original VHS and LaserDisc releases. Lionsgate released a widescreen Special Edition DVD on March 2, 2010, which included the previously missing footage.[10]

See also Edit

References Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ This tagline is an in-joke referring to both Jake Kesey's outsider status and the suspected origins of the Wraith.
  2. ^ "Alliance feature film credits". Variety. July 18, 1990. pp. 58–59.
  3. ^ a b "After All These Years ... Mike Marvin Talks The Wraith." Dread Central, March 17, 2010.
  4. ^ "Dodge M4S (Dodge PPG Turbo Interceptor; 1981, 1984)." Retrieved: January 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Opens Today". The Manila Standard. April 29, 1987. p. 7.
  6. ^ "Interceptor (Film)".
  7. ^ Maltin 2009, p. 1567.
  8. ^ Pym 2004, p. 1338.
  9. ^ "The Wraith - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.
  10. ^ "The Wraith Roars Back to DVD Courtesy of Lionsgate!" Dread Central, December 8, 2009. Retrieved: January 12, 2015.

Bibliography Edit

  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.
  • Pym, John, ed. "The Wraith." Time Out Film Guide. London: Time Out Guides Limited, 2004. ISBN 978-0-14101-354-1.

External links Edit