1986’s ‘The Wraith’: Nice Cars, Cool Explosions, and Charlie Sheen (review)

Packard (Nick Cassavetes) is a mean guy who likes to race teenagers for pink slips, cheating when he’s going to lose. He and his gang of punks: preppie guy Minty, bandanna-wearing Oggie, high-pitched Gutterboy, referee RUghead (Clint Howard), and Skank, who’s always drinking random hazardous stuff, find Packard’s sort-of girlfriend Keri (Sherilyn Fenn) in bed with another guy, and kill him. But he gets a second chance, and is reborn as ghostly Jake (Charlie Sheen), who one by one races and kills each member of the gang—all while rekindling his romance with Keri. However, Packard won’t go down without a fight.

I swear he’s a ghost and not an astronaut

It’s not classified as a horror movie, but it’s a pretty grim premise, with some gruesome details like the dead guys’ eyes being burned out of their sockets. The film has its roots in action movies, hence the many car chases and violence, but little gore.

“Whoa, this car is like totally choice. We should race for it.” “Cheeuh! Not even! Your grody bod needs to bounce!” 

I love the 80s. The synth pop soundtrack (I’ll be honest, I shelled out $50 to get it on CD not too long ago) Skank’s mohawk and pastel eye shadow, Charlie Sheen before he was a joke. Jake is the only tolerable character. Everyone else is either annoying and whiny or unrealistically evil. Keri is particularly insufferable, as Fenn has yet to come into her own as an actor. Cassavetes is a bit painful to watch, as he is just too good for this movie. Even Sheen looks a little embarrassed to be there. You gotta love Randy Quaid as the sheriff, delivering such terrible dialogue with such conviction.

“Well, you listen good, Skank. I know it’s gonna be hard with your melon on chemical overload, but there’s a killer out there and I’m gonna track the hairball down. So, when you two crater-heads get finished mining for nose gold and you get a relapse of memory, you let me know, huh? I’m just a phone call away.” –actual quote

I recently made my husband watch the movie because it was one of my favorites as a kid. I was chagrined at the terrible special effects and multiple plot inconsistencies like these weird metal rods that appear and disappear every time one of Packard’s boys dies. It’s also rather shallow, cheesy, and not too original—but fun.

“Clam it, wiseguy!”–actual quote

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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