DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Mike Marvin
Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn
Writing Credits:
Mike Marvin

After a young man is murdered by a road-racing gang of motor-heads, a mysterious fast-driving figure takes revenge.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $17.99
Release Date: 7/20/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Mike Marvin
• Audio Commentary with Actors Dave Sherrill and Jamie Bozian
• Isolated Score Selections with Audio Interview from Co-Composer J. Peter Robinson
• “Tales From the Desert” Featurette
• “Rughead Speaks” Featurette
• “Ride of the Future” Featurette
• “The Ghost Car” Featurette
• “Then and Now” Featurette
• Alternate Title Sequence
• Still Gallery
• Trailer & TV Spots


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Wraith [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 5, 2021)

In late 1986, Charlie Sheen would achieve stardom as the main character in the Oscar-winning Oliver Stone flick Platoon. Earlier that year, he starred in The Wraith, a piece of sci-fi/horror cheese that found nearly no audience.

This acted as one of Sheen’s first leads. I guess everyone needs to start somewhere.

In a remote Arizona town, psychotic Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) and his goons rule the roads. They force motorists to race so they can take ownership of their cars, a pursuit that gets violent at times.

One day mysterious Jake Kesey (Sheen) shows up on the scene. Jake challenges members of Packard’s gang and pursues vengeance.

You may notice a disconnect between that synopsis and the movie’s title, as The Wraith promises an extra-terrestrial element that my overview lacks. Some of that comes by design, as a discussion of the movie’s supernatural side might involve spoilers.

To be honest, the sci-fi side of Wraith largely feels irrelevant anyway. Whereas these components play a role, the film would work just as well if it remained wholly earth-bound.

I don’t want to imply that the movie fails to integrate supernatural material. I just feel that these themes add virtually nothing to the experience and that the flick would come with the same impact even if it dropped these elements.

This might stem from my opinion that Wraith remains beyond redemption. Silly and free from any sense of drama or excitement, the movie becomes a slow, dull experience.

If you blended the the Mad Max series and Rebel Without a Cause and tossed in a dash of Starman, Wraith would become the result. Not that its derivative nature turns into its biggest weakness, however.

Instead, the film’s main flaw relates to its aforementioned inability to create a compelling, involving tale. Even with elements that should create a vivid tale, the movie’s pacing and tonal inconsistency mean that it sputters.

Wraith really does hop all over the place, and virtually none of the narrative goes anywhere. The script lacks fluidity and seems to just bop from one action piece to another without much real reason.

We do get a pretty good cast here, as in addition to Sheen and Cassavetes, we find “names” such as Sherilyn Fenn and Randy Quaid. All seem unwilling to offer more than the bare minimum, as if they realized they found themselves stuck in an incoherent piece of cheese and didn’t want to waste their energy.

I can’t blame them, as other than some stunning shots of Fenn in a bikini and some short but surprising topless shots, I can’t find any redeeming factors here. Cheap, dopey and derivative, the movie goes nowhere.

Footnote: here Quaid plays a character called “Loomis”. He would play another “Loomis” in 1990’s Quick Change. I suspect this is a coincidence but it’s a weird one.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

The Wraith appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a watchable but unspectacular image.

Sharpness managed to largely seem fine. While the movie never seemed especially precise, it also avoided softness most of the time, as the only mild lack of definition tended to pop up during low-light interiors.

The movie lacked moiré effects or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. No digital noise reduction appeared, and I saw no print flaws.

Colors tended to look decent. At times they boasted nice vivacity, but other scenes came across as less dynamic. Overall, they remained fine, if inconsistent.

Blacks looked a little dense, while shadows felt fairly well-developed. Given the traits of mid-80s film stocks, this one worked reasonably well despite some erratic elements.

Don’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack, as it remained lackluster. The soundscape offered good stereo delineation of music, and effects spread to the side in a moderately active way, but this never turned into a soundfield with a lot to impress.

Audio quality seemed dated but decent. Speech was a little dull but intelligible – partly due to some blah looping - and it became the most consistent aspect of the mix.

Even given the lowered expectations that came with 80s soundtracks, the reproduction of music and effects disappointed. Both lacked range and seemed flat and wan much of the time. All of this left us with a wholly mediocre mix.

This “Vestron Video Collector’s Series” Blu-ray comes with a bunch of extras, and we get two separate audio commentaries. The first features writer/director Mike Marvin, as he provides a running, screen-specific discussion of cast and crew, sets and locations, stunts, vehicles and effects.

Marvin occasionally ladles out a mildly interesting observation, but most of this commentary plods. He tends to stick with fairly banal notes much of the time, and he also goes silent on more than a few occasions. While not a terrible track, this becomes a pretty dull discussion.

For the second commentary, we hear from actors Dave Sherrill and Jamie Bozian. Along with moderator Michael Felsher, both sit together for their own running, screen-specific look at their characters and performances as well as aspects of their careers and their time on Wraith.

As a collection of production memories, Sherrill and Bozian provide a decent chat. I can’t claim we find many real insights, but they toss out enough anecdotes to make this generally enjoyable track.

The disc also provides Isolated Score Selections Featuring Audio Interview with Co-Composer J. Peter Robinson. Along with Felsher, the interview takes up roughly the movie’s first 15 minutes.

During the chat, Robinson discusses his career and his work on the film. We get some useful notes.

Once the interview ends, we find the aforementioned isolated score segments. Presented Dolby Digital 2.0, this becomes a nice addition to the set.

Five featurettes follow, and Tales from the Desert runs 16 minutes, 21 seconds. It offers more info from Mike Marvin, as he covers various aspects of the production. Some of this repeats from his commentary, but Marvin gives us a few alternate details.

Rughead Speaks lasts 12 minutes, 24 seconds and delivers comments from actor Clint Howard. He discusses his long career and memories of The Wraith. Howard offers good perspective on these subjects.

Next comes Ride of the Future, an 11-minute, 44-second reel with transportation coordinator Gary Hellerstein and stunt coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker. They discuss the movie’s cars and stunts in this informative reel.

The Ghost Car spans 11 minutes, 43 seconds and boasts info from visual effects producer Peter Kuran and effects animator Kevin Kutchaver. As expected, they tell us about the flick’s effects and make this a pretty informative featurette.

Finally, Then and Now goes for 27 minutes, 11 seconds. Hosted by “Chris” from Mobile Instinct, we get a tour of various locations used for the movie. It runs a little long and wears out its welcome, but it still becomes a semi-fun exploration.

An Alternate Title Sequence runs one minute, 48 seconds and differs sole due to the fact it calls the movie Interceptor. That makes it a curiosity and not much more.

We end with the film’s trailer, three TV spots and a Still Gallery. The latter brings a running montage with 62 elements that mix shots from the film, promo materials and ads. It becomes a decent compilation.

Even by the standards of 1980s cheese, The Wraith flops. It creates a dull 92 minutes that never threatens to entertain. The Blu-ray brings pretty good picture, dated but decent audio, and a nice array of bonus materials. Unless you feel you must see Charlie Sheen in an early lead role, avoid this dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main