If you go into The Wraith expecting something serious, you are sure to be disappointed. It’s an over-the-top cheese fest. But there’s something kind of magical about that. And I find that I enjoy this flick more each time I revisit. It’s part coming of age teen drama and part sci-fi/horror movie feature.
The Wraith sees Jake, a young man whose life was cut tragically short, coming back from the dead with a new identity to claim revenge on those that orchestrated his demise. He also uses his return to the world of the living to reconnect with the young woman he left behind and partake in some high-stakes automotive racing.
The Wraith is a film that almost works in spit of itself. It wastes precious little time explaining how Jake/Jamie was able to come back from the dead, where his one-of-a-kind car comes from, or much of anything else. But I have to say that might be for the better. Writer/director Mike Marvin could have bothered himself with trying to provide answers to those questions but it likely would have slowed the film down and not necessarily been any better for it.
Furthering the flicks cheesy appeal, the film is full of characters with names like Skank, Rughead, and Gutter Boy that snort WD-40 for recreation. And the wardrobe is very much a product of its era, complete with fringe denim jackets and leather vests over shirtless torsos.
Also noteworthy is a great cast of (at the time) up-and-comers. We see Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, and Sherilyn Fenn in starring roles and Randy Quaid, and Clint Howard both turning in highly memorable supporting performances. Howard is truly memorable as Rughead, the mad scientist of the street racing gang. And Quaid is unforgettable as the scenery-chewing sheriff.
Another reason I look back on the film fondly is its memorable soundtrack. We get music from Mötley Crüe, Billy Idol, Ozzy, and Robert Palmer. The soundtrack really serves to enhance the race sequences, which are well-choreographed and edited.
As for the film’s latest home video bow, the cleaned up transfer is gorgeous but does make the primitive nature of some of the post effects show their age. I’ve seen The Wraith several times prior and it’s never looked anywhere close to this good. The colors pop. There are very few crackles in the picture. It looks better than I ever thought this film could.
When it comes to bonus content, my understanding is that all the interviews are ported over from the 2010 DVD release. But it’s still nice to have them on a definite, HD re-release. Among the newly available features are a total of three audio commentary tracks, two of which are unique to this edition.
The featurettes include an interview with Clint Howard reflecting not just on his character in the film but also his storied career. As usual, Howard is a delight. He comes across as having such a passion for his work and his craft and that is just as apparent here as it has ever been.
There is also an a retrospective featurette with writer/director Mike Marvin. It’s interesting to see him look back on the film and his experience making it with candor, as he honestly recollects both good and tragic memories from the production.
There’s one more carry-over featurette that dives into creating some of the onscreen effects and more. All in all, die-hard fans of the film will have plenty to dive into with the film’s Blu-ray debut. If you are after a copy of the Vestron Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, it is on sale now!
Wicked Rating: Film: 6/10 Features: 6/10