The Wraith – 1986 – imdb
This Charlie Sheen vehicle is a mixture of teen drama, love story and vehicular horror and tells the story of Jake Kesey (Sheen) a stranger in town who turns up to find the place being terrorised by a gang of ‘road pirates’ who force drivers to face them in unfair street races for their pink slips. The gang’s leader Packard Walsh (played by a menacing Nick Cassavettes) is quite the horrible bastard and isn’t above resorting to murder if the mood takes him. He’s also obsessed with Keri (played by Sherilyn Fenn of Twin Peaks fame) who he thinks is his girlfriend.
At the same time that Jake shows up, so does a souped-up sports car with a mysterious driver (the titular Wraith) which catches the envious eye of the pirates and before long is in a race with them. Their attempts to cheat backfire spectacularly as it turns out the car is invulnerable to damage, incredibly manoeuvrable and is particularly good at killing opponents. Uh oh!
The car generally causes explosions which leave its victims dead but mysteriously unburned. Oh… and MISSING THEIR EYES.
The film then alternates between looking at the relationship between Jake, Keri and Packard and a series of violent deaths for all of the gang members before it is predictably revealed that Jake is indeed The Wraith and is infact an upgraded body of Keri’s ex-boyfriend Jamie who was murdered at the hand of Packard and his band of hoodlums.
It’s about as ’80s a movie as you can imagine. Sheen’s charismatic performance singles him out over the rest of the cast and the racing action (and subsequent deaths) makes for interesting viewing. The director certainly seems to be a fan of fast cars and at times it’s like watching a trailer for a Gran Turismo game. You will absolutely hate Packard all the way through it and will be waiting for his demise, although I guess that’s the whole point of a bad guy.
I enjoyed The Wraith. It’s not got a whole lot of ideas of its own but slots in nicely into the ‘cars killing people’ genre and it’s currently up on Netflix if you fancy a dabble.