THE WRAITH (1986) Reviews and Vestron Video Blu-ray + Digital release news

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The Wraith is being released on Blu-ray + Digital as part of Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series on July 20, 2021. Special features:

Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Mike Marvin
Audio Commentary with Actors Dave Sherrill and Jamie Bozian
“Tales from the Desert” — An Interview with Writer-Director Mike Marvin
“Rughead Speaks!” — An Interview with Actor Clint Howard
“Ride of the Future” — Interviews with Stunt Coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker and Transportation Coordinator Gary Hellerstein
“The Ghost Car” — Interviews with Visual Effects Producer Peter Kuran and Effects Animator Kevin Kutchaver
Isolated Score Selections Featuring Audio Interview with Co-Composer J. Peter Robinson
“The Wraith Filming Locations: Then and Now” Featurette
Alternate Title Sequence
Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:

‘He’s not from around here.’

The Wraith is a 1986 American action horror film about a mysterious fast-driving spirit who descends from the sky. It seems he’s seeking vengeance on a gang of road-racing motor-heads who killed a young man.

Written and directed by Mike Marvin (Hamburger: The Motion Picture), the movie stars Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn and Randy Quaid.


When four glowing orbs crash into each other over the Arizona desert, they leave in their wake a badass Dodge Turbo Interceptor — and its enigmatic, helmeted driver.

The next day, the mysterious Jake (Charlie Sheen) appears in the town of Brooks, catching the eye of Keri (Sherilyn Fenn) and the ire of Packard (Nick Cassavetes), the ruthless leader of a gang of street racers. When gang members start losing races — and lives — to the Interceptor, the recent death of Keri’s boyfriend suddenly seems connected to the arrival of Jake, the unbeatable car…and an avenging entity called The Wraith.


“The picture sports some well-choreographed car chases, an interesting plot (written by Marvin) that leaves key questions unanswered, Randy Quaid as a frustrated cop, Clint Howard as an unhinged gang member, and a particularly fetching Sherilyn Fenn in mid ‘80s attire. The Wraith might be a minor and uneven work, but it’s quite a bit entertaining…” The Aisle Seat

“A hot car (a Dodge Turbo Interceptor), effective humor, entertaining performances (Cassavetes and Quaid were awesome), clever dialogue, a banging soundtrack, taunt directing, an underused yet ethereal score (by Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson) and a handful of really gnarly sci-fi/horror ideas (the vanishing braces, the organic car engine…)!” Arrow in the Head

“A literal Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, consisting of spare and lifted parts from John Hughes to old school Westerns to cheesy car-films to vigilante justice programmers to Knight Rider-styled 80’s sci-fi – I don’t think there could be more of a kitchen-sink movie than this one.” Back to the Movies

The Wraith is a great addition to a “totally ’80s” weekend film fest.  The movie looks and sounds like the year it came from, and has enough goofiness to get it past the lack of script.  I could actually see The Wraith being remade and I think it would be kind of a fun update if they kept the car chases and worked the script into something real.” Basement Rejects

“No matter how cool The Wraith might have seemed when you were 11, now there’s just no denying this movie is incompetently made and rock-stupid. The races are mind-numbingly repetitive. Every scene is clumsily staged. Heck, it’s being generous to call the characters two-dimensional. Oh, the cast is doing their best, but this dialogue would seem clumsy in a third-grade school play.” Cinema Blend

“The racing scenes are decently shot, the soundtrack has a couple of surprising hits in the mix, and the cast all at least have fun with their roles, even if they are not delivering the best possible performances. If you have fond memories of this from the VHS experience, as I did, then revisiting it won’t leave you disappointed. It holds up surprisingly well…” For It Is Man’s Number

The Wraith seems more of a music video than a film, a shallow plot shot with quick pace and with a banal rock score pounding from the speakers at every opportunity. It is a film made by and for muscle-car boneheads. People in the film seem indistinguishably identified with their cars. When they are killed, it is the car we see blowing up in loving detail, not them dying…” Moria

“Mr. Cassavetes is effectively black-hearted, and makes a striking figure, and Randy Quaid does a lot with the underdeveloped role of a local sheriff. Mr. Marvin directs at a brisk pace, but his screenplay, though lively, seems to be written in an alien language. ”Hairball,” ”crater heads,” ”maggot pie” and ”got lunched out” are just a few of the film’s notable locations.” The New York Times, November 22, 1986

” …the stunts (which caused the death of one of the crew in real life), are not too bad, and you can’t beat those car’s point of view shots for cranking up the tension. However, if the film has minor novelty value, it suffers a serious lack of surprises and anyone who hasn’t worked out who Jake really is after the first five minutes just isn’t paying attention.” The Spinning Image

“With a decent B-list cast and a soundtrack filled with the popular hard-rockin’ tunes of the year, this is a pretty fun timewaster with some okay smash-ups, Cassavetes suitably mental as the main baddie and that extremely cool car. Plus B-movie favourite Clint Howard has a side role (and sports a huge ‘fro!).” The Video Graveyard

The Wraith is an underrated gem of a film that is totally 80s: street races, ghosts, and a kick-ass soundtrack with Charlie Sheen and cast having fun with the film.” World Film Geek

Cast and characters:

Charlie Sheen … Jake Kesey / The Wraith
Nick Cassavetes … Packard Walsh
Sherilyn Fenn … Keri Johnson
Randy Quaid … Sheriff Loomis
Matthew Barry … Billy Hankins
David Sherrill … Skank
Jamie Bozian … Gutterboy
Clint Howard … Rughead
Griffin O’Neal … Oggie
Chris Nash … Minty
Vickie Benson … Waitress
Peder Melhuse … Murphy
Jeffrey Sudzin … Redd
Michael Hungerford … Stokes
Steven Eckholdt … George in Daytona
Elizabeth Cox … Girl in Daytona
Richard Alexander … Sandeval
Christopher Bradley … Jamie Henkins
Joan H. Reynolds … Policewoman

Filming locations:

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Technical details:

93 minutes
Audio: Dolby
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1


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