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The Wraith - An 80's Cult Classic

Back in the early 2000's, I worked at Blockbuster. As DVDs began to get popular, we would sell off our VHS tapes to make room for more DVDs. There was an inventory system that would track what was rented a lot and what wasn't, and the stuff that wasn't rented often was first to go. This meant all of the old cheesy 80's movies were some of the first to get sold off. Lucky for me, my 80's nostalgia was already in full swing by the early 2000's, so I was there to take full advantage of these sales. One of the tapes I picked up was a movie I had never heard of starring Charlie Sheen called The Wraith. It was cheap, had a cool cover, and screamed 80's, which was all I needed to know that my $4.99 was going to be well spent.

The Wraith is not a movie you'll find on any 80's top ten list. In fact, unless you’re looking up strange or cult 80's movies, you're not likely to find it mentioned anywhere. It's a shame, because it has an amazing soundtrack, a super cool car, and an entertaining story. It's nowhere near the quality of say a John Hughes movie, but it’s still a fun 80's experience that should not be missed if you are into that sort of thing.

The premise of the movie is quite simple. A group of thugs terrorize this small Arizona town. The like to force teenagers into drag racing for pink slips, and the cops do nothing to stop them. They are so uncontrollable; the leader of the group kills a young guy for being with a girl that he wanted for himself. Following the young guys death, a stranger shows up in town with this sleek car, unlike one that anyone has seen before. Of course, this gets the thug's attention. The stranger proceeds to befriend both the younger brother of the guy they killed, and the girl whom they killed the guy over. Of course, the stranger is actually the young guy back from the dead coming to get his revenge and stop the thugs once and for all.

The Wraith is full of drag racing scenes, cheesy acting, Clint Howard, and the Dodge M4S, a prototype car that was used for the movie. The soundtrack included two songs that I absolutely love and listen to on a weekly basis. One of them is Secret Loser by Ozzy. It's a catchy upbeat Ozzy jam that really gets no love. The second is Tim Feehan's, Where's the Fire. It's like the ultimate 80's song. It's full of guitar riffs and energy and I friggin love it.

The Wraith even inspired Kavinsky, who you might know as the artist of Nightcall from the Drive soundtrack. The album that Nightcall comes from is called OutRun. The album actually opens with a monologue about the death of a young man who comes back as a car to seek revenge from beyond the grave.

Sadly, other than Kavinsky's album, I don't think The Wraith has had much of an impact on pop culture. It's sort of a forgotten movie that you can sometimes find in a bargain DVD bin or even on Netflix. If you are into the 80's, and love a little cheese, then be sure to check out The Wraith if you run across it.

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echidna64 Posted on May 12, 2020 at 03:00 AM

I'm going to check this out! Maybe for the music alone, I'm really into the retrowave genre right now.

@Vapor, I would love to hear your thoughts about Dune lol

Vaporman87 Posted on May 05, 2020 at 03:36 PM

@vkimo: I don't think so. It's possible they've done it as a Rifftrax release, but I'm pretty sure it was never riffed on via MST3K.

vkimo Posted on May 04, 2020 at 08:56 PM

Didn't Mystery Science Theater do an episode on this?

Vaporman87 Posted on May 04, 2020 at 03:11 PM

I will confess, this is one of those films from the '80s that I have yet to watch. However, during this lockdown situation I have been scratching a few films like this off my list (most recently 'Dune') so I may finally get around to enjoying this one. I love the car design.

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