The Wraith

July 2, 2017 at 8:20 pm (7 Heads, Wraith, The) (, , , , , , , , )

The Wraith – 1986 – United States

In a small Arizona town, teen drag racers run amok. They have names like Skank, Rughead, and Gutterboy. They huff paint, molest girls, steal cars, commit murder, and generally act like pricks. One of their victims returns from the grave for revenge. He wears a futuristic jumpsuit, drives a futuristic car (the “Turbo Interceptor”), shoots a futuristic shotgun, and can transform into a comet. He seems like an alien invader, but actually he’s a ghost. The ghost challenges each of the drag racing gangsters and then kills them in head-on collisions. The police try ineffectually to stop him. There is a romance between the ghost and his old girlfriend. In the end, after exacting bloody revenge, the ghost turns human and gets another chance at life.

The Wraith panders to its teen audience with cool sports cars, non-stop rock music, sexy young people with hip haircuts, a drive-in burger joint with rollerskating waitresses, and not a single parent in sight. The only adult in the film is the demented sheriff. His hardboiled dialogue is totally zany. Interrogating a teenage suspect, he says, “I know it’s gonna be hard with your melon on chemical overload, but there’s a killer out there and I’m gonna track the hairball down. So when you two crater-heads get finished mining for nose gold and get a relapse of memory, you let me know, huh?”

For a cheap horror film, The Wraith has an impressive number of highly destructive car crashes. The film’s exciting race scenes all end with cars bursting into massive fireballs or hurtling off cliffs while trailing plumes of flame. At one point, a whole barn explodes spectacularly, hurling smoking debris everywhere. At another point, a car carrier dumps its whole load of cars onto some other cars. Surprisingly, the teens wear helmets when they race. It’s a laughable precaution when every crash ends in a raging inferno. A camera operator was killed while filming one of the chases.

The Wraith was shot near Tucson, Arizona and features great Arizona scenery. There are plenty of cactus-lined mountain highways. The military aircraft graveyard is cool too.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. The Wraith’s antagonist cuts himself and makes his girlfriend drink his blood. Young ladies, please beware of men like this.

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