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THE WRAITH - 2 Slimes
Rated PG-13 (What?)
Copyright 1986 Turbo Productions Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 10 October 2005

The Characters:  

  • The Wraith - The spirit of a boy, James, who has murdered. He has returned from beyond as a helmeted revenant, driving the midnight black Dodge Interceptor. Everyone responsible for his death shall perish in flames.
  • Jake - Charlie Sheen! This is also James, but minus the helmet and car (he rides a motorcycle). When not exterminating bad guys, he is all smiles and flirting with Keri.
  • Keri - The kind of girl that men die for. At least, when they are trapped in some town surrounded by miles of desert.
  • Billy - James' brother. He looks like the missing link's cousin.
  • Sheriff Loomis - Randy Quaid! He is unable to address anyone without using multiple insults. Can your drug-fried brain handle that, maggot? Or have you been too busy pulling your insignificant pud to pay attention?
  • Packard - The main bad guy who leads his gang of violent car thieves. Not only did he stab James to death, but he seems to be a big proponent of date rape. Very dead.
  • Packard's Gang - There were five of them. Two are really notable. Rughead (a chubby, giant-haired Clint Howard), the mechanical whiz and Skank, who likes to get high by inhaling or imbibing toxic substances. Rughead lives, the rest get dead.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Packard's little gang of hooligans preys on people by forcing them to race for pink slips. How they manage to stay out of jail is completely beyond me, because their methods are reckless. The brigands waylay random drivers along desert roads, boxing them in and threatening violence unless they race. Needless to say, Loomis should have had the whole lot in the slammer for grand theft auto a long time ago.

The previous should not throw us off of a funny point. The first Sword of Damocles race pits Packer, driving a souped-up Corvette, against a 1980's version of the Dodge Daytona. The Daytona quite nearly beats the true performance car! Heck, the antagonist only wins by trying to run the other driver off the road. That is pretty darn poor. Is the Corvette missing a sparkplug or something?

Oh yeah, Packard later challenges Billy to a race. Billy drives a little Triumph. What sort of beastly muscle car is Packard going to race next, a Ford Escort station wagon? Sounds like a fair race, especially when you notice that the Corvette's speedometer only goes up to seventy miles per hour.

It should be no surprise that the soundtrack is the movie's best asset. What is a stumper is how the production company secured the rights to use songs by Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol. Did Billy make a pact with the devil, or what? (This is all a moot point in Ozzy's case. Mr. Boogalow is a cruel master.) Anyway, suffice to say that any race scene or tender moment between Jake and Keri will have music to go with the action.

You know what is frightening? This is now the fifth paragraph and I still have not started establishing a word picture of the story. Okay, let us get to it. Jake rides into town and immediately offers Keri a ride on his bike. The flirting, both there and while sunbathing at a local quarry, causes Packard to lapse into a jealous fit. He daydreams about the night that he killed James for making love to Keri. After that lovely interlude, Packard tells the gang to keep an eye on "his girl" and he begins making low key threats to the little lady.

Wait a minute! Are you telling me that Packard acts like this about Keri, on the edge of homicidal rage, and nobody ever suspected him of killing James? What does it take to put two and two together? I bet that Packard could have had "I killed James Hankins" airbrushed on his leather jacket and everyone would have talked about the unsolved mystery.

A tense confrontation between Packard's gang and Billy is averted by the appearance of a mysterious black (actually, I think it is a deep purple) car. The Dodge Interceptor was a perfect choice for the Wraith's engine of destruction. It looks imposing, with the low ground effects and darkened windows. It was also quite fast; from what I found online, the car was capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and had a top speed of 194 mph. What spoils the illusion is "DODGE" across the back and the Chrysler symbol on the front. At least both are also black, making them somewhat unobtrusive. I seriously doubt that anyone returning from the dead would buy a Chrysler. If you are planning on doing so, make sure you get the extended warranty.

Anyway, the gang challenges the black car to a race. The Wraith revs his engine in agreement. Oggie climbs into his Daytona and off they go. The race formula will be used three times during the movie. The racers speed along twisting mountain roads, sometimes passing normal traffic. Suddenly, the black car pulls ahead and disappears. The next time the gang member sees his opponent, the vehicles collide and explode. Despite the raging inferno left behind, the dead kids are intact. Naked, with pasty white skin, and blackened sockets where their eyes used to be, but remarkably not burned to a crisp. Sheriff Loomis is unsettled after seeing Oggie's corpse. He loads insults onto Packard and Company for a few minutes before letting them go.

The black car magically rematerializes after each fiery crash. There is also some sort of reaction every time that James executes one of his murderers. A small part of the Wraith suit or car disappears with a flash. I have no clue why this is important.

The Wraith shows up at Packard's chop shop with a futuristic shotgun. (Where "futuristic" means blinking LEDs along the sides and never having to reload.) The dark hero stalks through the shop, blasting the crap out of everything. The Corvette and other automobiles are severely damaged, even an engine is destroyed by the 12-gauge (hey, it is a righteous weapon of judgment). Packard and his buddies can only watch as the place is destroyed.

Many of the cars are actually stolen property. The Wraith is going to kill Packard and the others. Why wreck the cars? Maybe the original owners could recover their property.

As the gang's numbers dwindle (Skank and Gutterboy are also eradicated when the black car rams the chop shop, blowing everything to kingdom come), Keri falls in love with Jake. He tells her not to be afraid of Packard anymore, because that is how the miscreant controls her. He works on fear and, if you do not fear him, he loses his power over you. This is a very Sesame Street message, for a film which features breasts and kids with their souls sucked out. When Keri finally does follow the advice she finds herself about to be the next contestant on "The Switchblade is Sharp," but the Wraith intervenes.

The end is a happy one. The murderers are all dead, Keri rides off into the night on the back of her true love's motorcycle, and Jake gives Billy the keys to the Interceptor. Now, hopefully you have been paying attention. Keri knows that Jake is James, back from the dead. I can see them in marriage counseling very soon. Keri: "I feel like he does not appreciate me." Jake: "I came back from the dead for you! How is that for devotion? All I want her to do is lose a few pounds." Marriage Counselor: (Pops another Imitrex.) Not to forget that the police are looking for the black car! Billy has a rough life ahead of him, until he is caught, tried, and put to death. Even if that does not happen, Jake could have warned his brother that the car does not run on unleaded. Can you imagine pulling into the gas station, then watching in horror as the attendant's soul is sucked from his screaming body?

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • A stock 1980's Dodge Daytona is nearly as fast as a tweaked Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Short term memory performance can be improved by slapping yourself in the head.
  • Performance car bodies are made from magnesium.
  • Love is like squeezing a knife blade in your fist.
  • Carburetor cleaner is brain fuel.
  • The Japanese may have invented the kamikaze, but Dodge perfected the design.
  • Back in the 80's, a girl saying "I like you." was code for "Here come the boobies."

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 1 min - Something tells me that these are not ordinary shooting stars...
  • 12 mins - Do you always go around, chatting up other guys?
  • 31 mins - This is not a healthy relationship.
  • 35 mins - "He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans! More cans!" Hehehehe!
  • 58 mins - The Corvette went through those tombstones like they were made out of styrofoam.
  • 70 mins - I do not understand the rush, unless Loomis has been hankering for some roasted marshmallows.
  • 73 mins - Maybe the Navajos did it?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note wraith1.wav Packard: "What were you doing with Billy Hankins today?"
Keri: "I was tired. I decided to go home."
Packard: "Don't lie to me." (Switchblade opening.) "I love you too much for you to lie."
Green Music Note wraith2.wav Gutterboy: "Skank!"
Skank: "Yeah?"
Gutterboy: "Who is that guy?"
Skank: "I don't know, but whoever he was, he is weird and pissed off."
Green Music Note wraith3.wav Sheriff Loomis lays down the law.
Green Music Note wraith4.wav Rughead: "This gang thing was okay when we had the edge, but now that there's that wraith out there that killed Oggie..."
Gutterboy: "A what out there, man?"
Rughead: "A wraith, man! A ghost! An evil spirit and it ain't cool."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwraith1.mpg - 3.2m
This is pretty much how every race against the Wraith ends. The phantom car pulls ahead and the bad guy vehicle suddenly runs into it, with an explosion and apparent soul sucking occurring at the moment of impact. Seems like your run-of-the-mill Chrysler, if you ask me.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
The Wraith
Reply #1. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Greenhornet
Saw it, couldn't even laugh at it.
Another Thing To Watch For: His shotgun has a metal FOLDING stock and a FIXED plastic stock. You would have to remove one to use the other, so it does NOT "look cool" like it's supposed to.
The Wraith
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Helmuut
Bad movie... yes, but entertaining... to the extent of being a wonerful Saturday afternoon / family out of town / work caught up / raining outside / eighties flick to fall asleep to on the couch (I do cherish my free time).

But back in the day, Keri... well it didn't get much finer than that when I was a teenager. The bikini/river scene... (looks over shoulder for wifey)... nice is an understatement.

And for a teenager who's into enduros and hopped-up cars, the movie did a half-way decent job of holding a kid's attention...

The "muut meter" says it was an entertaining flick. Might have to go pick this up at the bargain bin. Then again, I'm quite nostalgic.

The Wraith
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by onionhead
That's Sherilyn Fenn, of Boxing Helena fame, as Keri.  Gena Rowlands' and John Cassavetes' son Nick is on hand as the rascally Packard Walsh.
The Wraith
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Shuvcat
I'm a sucker for evil-demon-killer-car movies.  Only detriment is Sherilyn Fenn acting like a total helpless dingbat, but other than that it's awesome.  The opening sequence looks like it was inspired by every high-school hot-car inspirational-phrase poster, airbrush strokes and all.  And Skank-- a dude who gets high drinking OIL??  Sheesh.  There's an idea...

HOW did the younger kid not realize Charlie Sheen was his brother? For crud's sake, if you're back from the dead why even bother looking like a completely different guy??  Leave the logic at home if you want to enjoy-- and only then you will. :)
The Wraith
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by AkiraTubo
I actually like The Wraith quite a bit.  I give it four slimes, stopping just short of a full five.  The soundtrack is great, the races are fun, and the characters are one-note but serve their purposes well.  Plus, Sherilyn Fenn's rather awesome breasts are in there.

Nick Cassavettes makes the movie for me in many ways.  With his jacket off, he's as intimidating as ... a tall, lanky guy who needs a tan.  However, he is physically bigger than almost anyone else in the movie so he comes off as a credible threat.  He can't act worth a damn but I think he knows it and has fun with it.  His line delivery and tough guy act are so off the mark I can't help but be amused whenever he says or does anything.

On a side note, I got to see the real Dodge Interceptor -- or more likely, a replica -- at a car show shortly after I saw The Wraith in the 80s.  It was just a fiberglass body on a rolling frame (I'm not sure it even had an engine) but, it was the car from The Wraith!  Woo-hoo!

(Note: there are at least two instances when you can see that the blower on the bad guy's yellow Trans Am is a fake.  There is one loving close up in particular where you can tell it isn't turning while the engine is running.  Oops!)
The Wraith
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by I luv dolma
Saw this stinker on the WB when I was 10 or 11 years old (i'm 20 now). It kind of reminds me of Death Race 2000. My grandmother was really into it. She was like, "What's going to happen next? What's going to happen next?" Seriously. But then again, she spends her afternoons watching Spanish soaps...and she doesn't even understand the Spanish language.
The Wraith
Reply #7. Posted on October 21, 2005, 03:14:20 PM by Felicity
Not as entertaining as it could be, but still 1980s enough to be worth it for me. Charlie Sheen is 1980s. The car is 1980s. The soundtrack is 1980s. The punks are 1980s. As for the rest...meh. Also, it breaks one of my rules: itís set in a small town. However, it gets points for following through on its revenge premise and not copping out with a revenge-is-useless moral.
The Wraith
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by moviecollector
I saw this again like a few months ago, uncut on Showtime.

It was good for what it was. Cool black car.  
Its the soundtrack that is the best thing about this movie.  Great 80's music.

I do hope this is never remade though.
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