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on 1 December 2002
Its a dark, cold night. The hard rain hitting the window is distorted by the crackling of coal fire and the curtains are closed so the tele licence van won't see the flickering from the television. Everyone sits, staring, me and my brother especially intrigued by the mysterious black car and the unusual super human standing in its shadow on the video cover. Introducing the film is the sound of the drums from a typical eighties song, similar to those on the likes of Rocky, Over the Top and Heavenly Kid. The picture and sound quality, a reflection of that era in video technology, and the very element which is captured by our imagination and stored there forever. We sit, only eight or nine years old, with very little understanding of what is happening, yet astounded by the powers of destruction, speed and the enforcement of justice. Twelve years later, I unearthed 'The Wraith' after several desperate attempts to find it again. Watching it again, after so long and with a completely different view on society, a whole new view of life and with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the art of Movies, it still astounds, it still amazez and is still the very aspect of my childhood memories, which make them great. Excellent.
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on 18 January 2016
This is one of the best relatively unknown films of the 80's. I must have hired it about 6 times on VHS for me and the gang to watch. I've hunted high and low to find it on DVD at a reasonable price. So it was with some trepidation that i ordered the dutch import. Glad to say it didn't disappoint at all. Great story of revenge from from beyond the grave, mixed with high octane car scenes against desert backdrop with a good dose of 80s pop culture.
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on 24 September 2016
1986 cult sci-fi/horror favourite 'The Wraith' arrives on a Spanish region free Blu ray from obscure (possibly bootleg) label T-Sunami sporting the Spanish title of 'El Aparecido' on the cover and presented in it's original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with an interlaced 1080i picture transfer and English DTS-HD Master 5.1 soundtrack. Sadly the sole extra on the disc is confined to the original theatrical trailer.

Synopsis:
Lone drifter Jake (a pre Platoon Charlie Sheen) rolls into a small Arizona town astride a motorcycle and immediately catches the eye of local gal Keri (Sherilyn Fenn) from whom he asks for directions. Unfortunately Keri is the on-off trophy girlfriend of the overly jealous bullyboy Packard (director Nick Cassavetes) who leads a band of no good road pirates (which includes genre favourite Clint Howard) who spend their days hanging out at the local burger joint or tuning their muscle cars which they use in illegal road races in order to con other unsuspecting drivers out of their vehicles........"if you lose the race, you lose your car!". As to be expected Jake's presence in town is a cause for concern for Packard and his bunch hoodlums especially as Keri seems to prefer the mild mannered young motorcyclist's company to that of the macho badboy and his petrol head cronies. All is soon forgotten with yet another new character in town, one who is dressed in a leather jumpsuit and black visored helmet who drives a near indestructible concept Dodge Turbo Interceptor and who seems intent on taking out Packard's men one by one as they continually challenge him in an effort to take his futuristic ride. Is the entrance of the strangers a mere coincidence or is there a connection between the young unassuming Jake and the silent black clad killer with his unbeatable car and could the arrival of the two have any link with a sadistic murder committed by the gang years before? The local police headed by Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quade) are baffled by the deaths of so many of Packard's clan of known troublemakers (especially as their bodies emerge from burning wreaks unscathed but with charred out eyeballs) and set out to investigate the elusive Turbo Interceptor and it's spectral driver.
Despite a fairly formalic storyline The Wraith remains a difficult film to categorise mixing the Mad Max style white knuckle chase scenes with vengeance themed horror aspects, traces of High Plains Drifter a touch of sci-fi and a whole lot of 80s teen movie. To be honest narrative wise The Wraith is abit of a mess, often making very little sense whilst introducing aspects that are never fully elaborated on coupled with some infuriatingly cornball dialogue and scenes that completely defy logic. The special effects especially during the opening are decidedly ropey and despite being touted as a horror movie this is surprisingly bloodless bar a handful of brief flashback moments. Nevertheless there is still something that I like alot about this oddball filmic mongrel with the movie serving as a perfect nostalgia trip. First and foremost I loved this flick back in the 80s with everything from the amped up muscle cars and hot chicks through to the breakneck drag races and poppy soundtrack (which include hits by Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne and most surprisingly Robert Palmer)eliciting an air of ultra cool. The Arizona set locations complete with miles of deserted road surrounded by desert and Saguaro cacti work wonderfully and the staple 1980s style explosions often engulf the screen in dazzling fireballs. The cast too are all strong considering the quirky nature of the film and the often melodramatic dialogue with Randy Quade as the especially laid back Sheriff Loomis and Clint Howard (brother of Ron) as Rughead (complete with a shocking Eraserhead style hairdo) being the most notable and entertaining.
Of course 30 years later this does look (as to be expected) more than a little dated and is definitely a relic of it's time complete with it's outdated fashions, stereotypes and attitudes. Regardless of this The Wraith is still immense fun and genuinely entertaining bringing to the fore everything I still love about 80s movies and whether it is through rose tinted glasses or not for 90 minutes this made me feel like a 12year old all over again.

Picture:
The Wraith arrives here on Blu ray with a mostly unsatisfying AVC encoded 1080i interlaced transfer framed at the films correct widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Very little is known about this discs origin (the name of the distributor isn't even acknowledged on the packaging) and could quite possibly be an unofficial bootleg taken from the now scarce (and phenomenally expensive) Japanese BD from Happinet. Regardless of who was behind it and where the transfer was taken from this is a far cry what you would expect from the format with an image that is barely a step-up from standard definition DVD. To point out the good first contrast appears bright and natural with the vast majority of the sunlit daytime scenes possessing pleasing clarity. Close-ups of characters convey some life meaning you can pick out intricacies in faces and hair as well as textures in clothing and props. Sadly the bulk of the image is incredibly soft and even a little smudgy with an overall flat appearance lacking in both depth and dimensionality which is more prevalent in long to medium shots. The bright desert sections which should be bristling with fine detail thanks to the wealth of rough scenery on display are remarkably two dimensional and interiors most notably Packard's chop shop take on a hazy feel lacking in density. Lines appear indistinct and in motion display a few jagged edges most possibly a result of the interlaced image and I did notice a few anomalies in motion.
It could be said that many lower budgeted movies of the period could look like this regardless of transfer quality but I can't help but feel that you not seeing everything the source has to offer making this at times look for all the world like an upconverted DVD. Black levels though are admirable enough even if crush is present and primary colours do exhibit some pop (even if they are ever so slightly too bright) from the red of Jake's motorcycle and gel lit flashbacks through to the vivid blue of Keri's swimsuit and the sunny Arizona skies. Other colours in the spectrum appear natural enough with decent greens for the various desert flora whilst skin tones can run slightly hot.
The source utilised looks to be in good condition with extremely minor blink and you'll miss it moments of age related damage but the light grain structure isn't always handled that well with a slightly clumpy inorganic appearance lacking in filmic qualities.
This disc does feel like a missed opportunity and I'm 100% sure this movie could and should look stronger than it does here but it is at least a step up from the full screen DVD available in the UK or any of the VHS tapes or TV screenings i have seen over the years.

Sound:
The Wraith blasts onto Blu ray with a surprising (in it's inclusion at least) uncompressed DTS HD Master 5.1 sound mix. Before the audiophiles get too excited this is serviceable but far from perfect. First and foremost dialogue is almost always clear and understandable even if levels can fluctuate but foley effects show their age sounding a little antiquated and low-fi lacking the range and intensity of a modern or better mixed soundtrack even for the numerous drag races and pyrotechnics. Stereo imaging is reasonably wide across the front of the soundstage although effects often feel clunky and old fashioned and the rear channels are reserved for light atmospherics and the music accompaniment. LFE is mostly reserved for adding heft to the rocking score which it does with some surprising verve but contributes little to no punch for the many action oriented moments although some of the V8 motors do sound appropriately deep and throaty.
The music is possibly the best element in this mix sounding reasonably robust and forceful with a nice transparent openness if slightly lacking in detail and dynamics.
Unfortunately the are a few (most would say minor)problems with this lossless mix most noticeably when the balance occasionally shifts bias from the centre channel to the right which can be distracting making this feel off kilter. Fluctuations in volume also persist to a certain extent with the music reproduced higher than other elements within the recording and unwanted sound effects which should emanate from the front speakers often bleed the rear of the soundstage for no apparent reason.
For the record at start-up the disc defaults to the Castilian soundtrack but is easily changed and the Spanish subtitles (which pop up around 15 minutes into the movie) are removable when the English language option is selected.

Extras:
Sadly nothing is included in the extras department apart from the original theatrical trailer presented in full screen 1.33:1 and 1080i. There is an American region 1 DVD from Lionsgate which did include some good extras features including a director's commentary and interview with star Clint Howard amongst others all of which are sadly absent here.

Conclusion:
Featuring good chase scenes, a toe tapping soundtrack and a lively cast of future stars The Wraith may not be a good movie but it is certainly entertaining and never once boring perfectly capturing the essence of the 1980s, fueling my nostalgic impulses and reminding me why I like films from that decade so much.
Sadly this Spanish import is abit of an anticlimax featuring an unimpressive 1080i interlaced picture transfer and no supplementary features but the lossless multi-channel audio is at least fine for what it is.
As there isn't a viable widescreen release of The Wraith available here in the UK this Spanish Blu ray comes partially recommended to fans of the movie despite it's far from perfect transfer and lack of supplements. Just don't expect to be wowed by the soft visuals on display.
For owners of the American DVD I can't honestly recommend you double dip with this as the image is only a minor step up in quality (the compression may be slightly stronger on the Blu ray) but the DVD does at least possess a decent set of extras.
Incidentally there are also Blu ray releases of this from both Japan and Italy. The Japanese release which also features an interlaced transfer may have been the basis for this disc but does at least carry over the extra features from the American region 1 Lionsgate DVD whilst the Italian release claims a 1080p transfer (I haven't actually seen this to confirm whether this statement is true) but only features a 2.0 channel 192kbps Dolby Digital soundtrack which according to other sources is mono and not the original stereo.
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on 28 August 2005
This film is definatly the father of american feel good factor. The very foundation that Never been kissed, she's all that and many more were built on. I have to say finding this copy was an absolute prize. The suprising thing for me is that after 17 years of special effects development this film still stands up, if for no other reason than its a great film, with a great story and was well acted, The Cars are absolutly fantastic, the black Turbo is superb its allways stuck in my mind and was great to see it on a big screen. I loved it then and love it still.
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on 23 September 2014
The Wraith to me is a film that is sadly lost in the shadows of film history. Which is a shame cos the film itself is certainly worth watching. You can view it on Amazon Prime or Via the web stream services available from Amazon. Charlie Sheen ah yes. A smile on my face at seeing Charlie in one of his earlier films.( Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn Story: Jamie, killed by neighbourhood thugs, returns as a mystical figure named Jake (The Wraith) to gain revenge.) Get a chance GO see it!
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on 17 November 2000
i love the turbo interceptor and if they were for sell it would be the car for me. i love the whole movie and can watch it over and over again and not get bored of it. i introduce all my friends to this movie
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 June 2013
A gang of adolescent thugs coerce drivers into rigged street races so they can steal cars for their chop shop. Despite his relative youth, the gang's leader (Nick Cassavetes) is a figure of fear and hatred and not even the sheriff can arrest him for the murder of another teenager. The arrival of a new guy in town sparks interest from Cassavetes extremely reluctant girl, Sherilyn Fenn, at the same time a mysterious driver is thinning out the gang in a series of fiery encounters. There is action aplenty in this and a young Charlile Sheen does a decent job as the vengeful wraith of the title. This throwaway 80's movie with decent car chases and a pounding soundtrack even manages to capture tones of pale rider, albeit for a less demanding audience.
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on 10 August 2013
Found this old classic in a charity shop for £1.99, absolute bargain!!! Loved watching this movie when I was younger and as I'm sat here watching it in my early 40s brings back memories of all these American feel good teen movies, yes it is a bit cheesy and badly acted by some, but that adds to the nostalgia, I love these old 80s movies, Kuffs will be next!! Love the car, love the racing scenes, another classic added to my collection!
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on 17 November 2003
this is indeed one of my favourite movies of my childhood. i accidently bumped into the video cover on a local mart, and recognized it immediately..
this movie is a must see.
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on 18 April 2014
The wraith is a dark suspense thriller with fast. Cars and revenge I watched this when I younger and loved it and love it still in my eyes this is one of Charlie sheen best films and he plays the role very well I recommend this movie to any one
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