Packard Walsh and his motorized gang control and terrorize an Arizona desert town where they force drivers to drag-race so they can 'win' their vehicles. After Walsh stabs the decent teenager Jamie Hankins to death for being intimate with a girl whom Walsh wants for himself, the mysterious Jake Kesey arrives, an extremely cool motor-biker with an invincible car. Jake befriends Jamie's girlfriend Keri Johnson, takes Jamie's sweet brother Billy under his wing and manages what Sheriff Loomis can not - the methodical and otherworldly elimination of Packard's criminal gang. Written by
The black car featured in the movie was a real-life technological wonder, the Dodge M4S. A joint effort of the Dodge Division of Chrysler Motors and PPG Industries, one of the highly sophisticated PPG Pace Cars for the PPG-CART Indy Car World Series. The M4S was designed and constructed at an estimated cost of $1.5 million, and featured performance and technology to match that lofty figure. The innovative body design was developed in the Chrysler studios, while PPG developed the finish - a special bronze pearl paint job formulated just for this car. The M4S was powered by a Chrysler 2.2-liter four-cylinder one-of-a-kind engine that exceeded 194 mph. According to Gary Hellerstein, transportation coordinator for this film, a total of seven versions of the M4S were needed for filming. The original, on loan from Dodge, was used for close-ups and details. Two more "drivers", consisting of perfectly detailed bodies on dune buggy chassis, were used for stunt driving chores. There were four "shells", empty bodies on bare, towable frames, that were sacrificed in various crash scenes. See more »
When the carhop brings food out to Loomis' car, she says "No charge for the sarge" and he replies "I'm a lieutenant you know." He is actually the sheriff, which is the highest ranking law enforcement officer in any given county, a rank much higher than lieutenant. See more »
You think I'd go to California with you? I'd rather go to Nogales, have the Gutterboy's cretin children and die than to be with you.
You better shut up now, Keri, or I'm gonna have to...
Yeah, you can kill me, too, Packard, but you can never make me love you.
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Very few films past or present stray from the predictable form of a fluid linear narrative. Exposition, conflict, resolution, and possibly an occasional flashback or revisiting of an earlier moment---these are all staples of visual story telling.
Charlie Sheen's late 80's action masterpiece THE WRAITH, however, successfully ventures down a road much less traveled by filmmakers, a road which guides viewers through an assemblage of scenes which seem somehow related, but give no indication of how or why.
Ingeniuosly, the many questions of THE WRAITH, much like the guiding directions in other impressionist images, provide a grander picture of a straight forward story of love, loss, and revenge. Who is the angelic avenger that, one by one, picks off the gang of road-rash-ruffians in a futuristic car? Who, inexplicably halfway through the picture, receives his untimely demise from the ruffians in the trunk of car? Can it be the same character so craftily played by Sheen, a charming young man who both befriends the young short-order chef and knocks boots with the buxomly Sherilyn Flynn?
Thankfully the audience is given a clue to THE WRAITH's avante-garde modus in the air brushed leather jacket of Nick Cassavettes: the skull-among-flames symbolizes many things, maybe most important of which is the picture's dramatic refutation of sensible organization. The line between the beautiful, bone-white skull and the jacket's hot, licking flames, is blurred in the same fashion as the line of narrative arch which threads through THE WRAITH.
80's Action connoisseurs will appreciate the steely-eyed performance Sheen gives, as well as the supplemental contributions of Chuck Howard and Randy "Uncle Eddy" Quaid. From the first moment Flynn appears on the screen, there can be no doubt that Sheen will take her to the mat---or in this case, an Arizona hot spring---and there can be no doubt that Cassevettes and co. will receive their devilish comeuppance. During the course of such a spectacle, the audience must then ultimately ask itself, will we be able to handle the power contained in rest of this film? And if so, more importantly, will we be able to ever again stomach the banality of traditional film?
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