Taglines: He’s not from around here.
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.
The Wraith is a 1986 American independent action-horror film produced by John Kemeny, written and directed by Mike Marvin, and starring Charles “Charlie” Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassavetes, and Randy Quaid. The film was released theatrically on 288 screens in the U.S. by New Century Vista Film Company (later New Century Entertainment Corporation).
The Wraith tells the story of a murdered Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as an all-powerful street racing wraith intent on taking revenge on a gang of car thieves and their psychotic leader, who murdered the teen so the leader could then exert emotional control over the dead teen’s girlfriend using intimidation.
About the Story
Bright lights descend from the night sky, revealing a sleek, all black Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor, driven by a helmeted, black-clad figure. In the town of Brooks, Arizona, Packard Walsh is the leader of a gang of car thieves that coerces people with sporty cars into racing for pink slips. He controls everyone through intimidation, including Keri Johnson, whom he views as his property. Keri’s boyfriend James “Jamie” Hankins has been mysteriously murdered, leaving no trace; Keri, who was with him, was hospitalized with no memory of the traumatic event.
Jacob “Jake” Kesey arrives in Brooks riding a Honda XL350R Enduro dirt bike. He befriends both Keri and Jamie’s brother William “Billy” Hankins, who both work at Big Kay’s, the local burger drive-in; they later meet up at a sun-and-swim gathering on a local river, where Jake is seen to have knife scars on his neck and back.
Packard’s control of the illegal races is suddenly over when the Turbo Interceptor appears out of nowhere. The mysterious driver of this supercar is covered head-to-toe in black body armor and a black race helmet. The armor is adorned with metal braces resembling those worn by victims recovering from severe physical trauma.
The driver challenges Packard’s gang to race, explosively killing Oggie Fisher and later Minty in high-speed, fiery crashes which leave their bodies untouched except for burned-out eye sockets. Sheriff Loomis and his lawmen are always in hot pursuit, but the Turbo vanishes in a cloud of glowing light.
Two more gang members, Skank and Gutterboy, who are always too high on drugs to believe in the supernatural, are later obliterated when the Wraith races his supercar through the gang’s isolated warehouse garage, causing a huge explosion. With Packard’s gang destroyed, Rughead, the gang’s tech-geek, who alone among them did not participate in Jamie’s murder, realizes too why the gang had been targeted and talks it over with Sheriff Loomis.
After Packard witnesses Keri kissing Jake, he kidnaps her from the burger joint and beats and kicks Billy when he tries to intervene. When Packard tells her they are going to California, Keri stands up to him and says she will never love him. Just as he gets out of the car and draws his flick knife, the Turbo arrives and he takes up the challenge, only to be killed too. Sheriff Loomis calls off the hunt for the mysterious driver, observing, “You can’t stop something that can’t be stopped”.
The Wraith (1986)
Directed by: Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, Matthew Barry, Keri Johnson, Vickie Benson, Jeffrey Sudzin, Elizabeth Cox
Screenplay by: Mike Marvin
Cinematography by: Reed Smoot
Film Editing by: Scott Conrad, Gary Rocklen
Set Decoration by: Michele Starbuck
Art Direction by: Dean Tschetter
Music by: Michael Hoenig, J. Peter Robinson
Distributed by: New Century Vista Film Company
Release Date: November 21, 1986