Every film, no matter how good or bad, has its fans, and if there are enough of those fans, then the film is inevitably destined to receive a special-edition DVD. This has been proven time and time again, which means there’s no longer any point in seeing such DVDs and howling with laughter at the suggestion that such treatment is warranted of a film like…oh, say, “The Wraith.” If you’re not part of the camp that’s already in love with the film, then better you should treat it like a pop culture experiment: watch it and see if you can determine why it’s developed such a cult following over the years.
Written and directed by Mike Marvin, “The Wraith” revolves around the mysterious Jake Kesey – played by Charlie Sheen, in his first leading role – who turns up in town right at the same time as a masked man who drives a completely kick-ass car known as…you guessed it…The Wraith. It seems that there’s this gang of drag-racing car thieves, led by a thuggish jackass named Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes), who challenge local teens to races where, if they lose, they have to surrender their car. Packard’s ego has gotten so large that he’s convinced himself that Keri (Sherilyn Fenn) is his girlfriend, but she’s got eyes for Jake, and it is mutual, baby. You can imagine how Packard feels about that development. Meanwhile, The Wraith is challenging members of Packard’s gang to races which tend to end in only one participant making it out alive, leading Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid) to begin investigating the strange goings-on. Say, is it possible that Jake and The Wraith are one in the same? And what’s the story on Keri’s ex-boyfriend, Jamie, who was killed in one of Packard’s races? You don’t suppose that Jake is actually Jamie, having been brought back to life by some unspecified means, given a change in appearance, and provided with the aforementioned kick-ass car in order to extract his revenge?
If you’re not an aficionado of cars, ’80s cheese, or Sherilyn Fenn’s Breasts (yes, they deserve capitalization), then you may struggle to make it through “The Wraith,” but if you’re determined to do it in the name of science, then watching while listening to Marvin’s commentary helps a great deal. It’s also a major bonus that the film’s special features are the work of Red Shirt Pictures, who’ve made a great name for themselves by providing excellent bonus material for cult “classics” like this, so be sure to check out the interviews with Marvin and co-star Clint Howard (whose hair in the movie is fucking outstanding), as well as the featurette about the cars used in the film and the cult that surrounds “The Wraith.” That cult isn’t likely to grow any larger as a result of this special edition, but it’ll sure make the existing membership happy.