The Wraith (1986)

wraith poster 1986 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun '80s feel to the movie

Story makes no sense, acting is so-so

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Wraith

Studio:  New Century Vista Films Company

Genre(s):  Horror/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  November 21, 1986

MPAA Rating:  R


Welcome to the graveyard…where I’m buried?

Jamie Hankins has been killed, and his killers are still raising havoc in the streets.  When a stranger named Jake Kesey (Charlie Sheen) comes to town, he shows interest in Jamie’s former girlfriend Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn) who is being forced to be with Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes)…the man responsible for Jamie’s death.  A black Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor begins to appear around town and Packard’s gang members find themselves being picked off one-by-one.  As the odds grow higher and faster, the danger grows…could Jamie be back for revenge?


The intense tubing scene!!!

Directed by Mike Marvin, The Wraith is an action horror film that gained a cult following over the years.  The movie is also known for its soundtrack which included a number of big hits for the time it was made.

The Wraith is just a weird film.  It isn’t good, it isn’t bad…but it is weird.  The movie is very set in the ’80s with the soundtrack, the cars, and the punks that inhabit the film.  Much like The Return of the Living Dead, the punks of the movie are so over-the-top, but in that sense become pretty memorable.


Yeah, that’s right…we’re punks…aren’t you scared?

The story for The Wraith is probably the biggest problem.  There never is any real explanation for anything.  You see some alien lights, you see the Interceptor get destroyed a number of times, and nothing really seems to happen in the revenge story that ever makes the Wraith vulnerable or even threatened by Packard and his gang.  You also have the Wraith wearing braces that disappear after each death…why?  It never is explained…nor how Jamie came back in the first place.

The movie has some fun actors involved.  You get Charlie Sheen doing his Charlie Sheen thing as the enigmatic “Jake” and he is joined by Sherilyn Fenn who appears as a blonde which is a bit of change from later roles (she was also dating Johnny Depp at the time who was allegedly up for a role).  Nick Cassavetes plays the town bad boy nicely and Clint Howard has some fun as the brains of the group known as Rughead.  You also have the completely inept sheriff played by Randy Quaid.


Fast cars crash hard!

The movie does have some decent car racing.  It makes good use of the desert surroundings of Tucson, Arizona where it was film.  While shooting one of the race scenes, a photographer named Bruce Ingram was killed and the movie is dedicated to him.

The Wraith is a great addition to a “totally ’80s” weekend film fest.  The movie looks and sounds like the year it came from, and has enough goofiness to get it past the lack of script.  I could actually see The Wraith being remade and I think it would be kind of a fun update if they kept the car chases and worked the script into something real.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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