The Wraith DVD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve_Klein, Jan 4, 2003.

  1. Steve_Klein

    Steve_Klein Agent

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    I mentioned this as part of a thread on Trick or Treat, but wanted to further share my experience with this DVD. For the uninitiated, The Wraith is a decidedly guilty pleasure from 1986 starring Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, and Nick Cassavetes about a mysterious entity that wreaks havoc on an evil drag racing gang (predating Fast and the Furious by a good 15 years). A veritable treasure trove of (I like to think) intentionally horrible dialogue, this one should not be missed by any fan of bad '80s sci-fi / horror and cars (and Ms. Fenn as well).

    The DVD is from Platinum Disc Corporation, and I've only seen it at Best Buy (along with the aforementioned Trick or Treat) for $5.99. I have not found it available online anywhere.

    Pros:

    This is definitely NOT the original PG-13 cut of the film that was released in theaters. It has additional sex and violence that were also in the long out-of-print Image LD (probably the same transfer). A bonus if you've only seen the film in theaters or on cable.

    Although this appears to be a CBR transfer (common with budget labels), the picture quality is surprisingly watchable.

    It has decent DD 2.0 surround audio with a period soundtrack from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, and Robert Palmer.

    The titular character's vehicle is an actual Chrysler concept car from the day, if you're into such things.

    Like most Platinum Disc releases, it comes in the pretty but seldom-seen "super jewel case", which I would prefer to keepcases if they didn't crack so easily in shipping.

    Cons:

    There are no extras, not even a trailer. The main menu on the other hand might induce seizures in epileptics. You just have to see it...

    It is full-frame only and the framing looks quite poor overall. Although projected theatrically at 1.85:1 this transfer does not appear to be open matte, but rather panned-and-scanned from a hard-matted source. P&S is probably not the right term though; it looks like the transfer was just locked on the center of the 1.85:1 frame. For example, there are profile shots of the mystery car where the front and rear are hanging off-screen that would have looked perfect in OAR.

    The biggest caveat: I don't think this is a legitimate release, as I think Anchor Bay actually owns the rights (they did the fairly recent VHS release). Maybe they licensed it to Platinum Disc, but I kinda doubt it. Just be warned, this may not be a legitimate release; those with qualms might want to avoid it.

    I have seen this for sale on eBay (at typically inflated prices), but don't be fooled; you can probably find this title at any Best Buy in their "Special Value" section.

    I thought this somewhat of a find; I hope this helps out fellow fans of bad '80s cinema.

    By the way, what is the Wraith? In the immortal words of Clint Howard: "...a ghost, an evil spirit and it ain't cool!"
     
  2. Mike Click

    Mike Click Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve Klein wait till you read this review by Nick.
    The Wraith is the kind of dark, brooding, edge-of-society movie that was a special feature of the 80's.
    Straight away we are introduced to a gang of truly bizarre teen misfit outlaws, played by such 80's luminaries as Chris Nash ("Mischief"), Clint Howard and Nick Cassavetes, who plays leader "Packard Walsh". The gang prowl the lonely Arizona highways at night intimidating people into highway racing or losing their 'wheels'...
    The only other thing that Packard seems interested in is local girl Keri Johnson played by the ever gorgeous Sherilyn Fenn. And being that it's Sherilyn that we're talkin' about, who can blame him if his interest is blatantly obsessive?
    In fact Keri is not interested in him at all, but he manages to maintain his grip on her through the same kind of intimidation that he exherts on everyone in town.
    Packard's rage is soon directed at Jake (CHARLIE SHEEN), the new guy in town who instantly forms a mutual admiration society with Keri. The local hangout for these "road pirates" -and just about everyone else in town- is the "Big Kay's" greasy burger joint, and it is here that Packard's gang are first taunted by the way-cool, mysterious, blacked out "Turbo Interceptor". With their desire to "take posession" of this fantastic vehicle, a race is inevitable... but this time it ends in disaster and Packard's number is one down.
    What follows is a mixture of "Near Dark" and "The Road Warrior", whilst the bemused local sheriff, played with a cocked hat and squint by Randy Quaid, tries to figure it all out. Though we, the audience, are blatantly allowed to figure out what is going on, the thing that makes the movie work is credible acting from a cast of so many "about to be famous" actors, mixed with every cheesy dialog cliche in the book, great action, stunts and FX.
    In fact, the filmmakers are to be applauded for giving the movie very credible car and bike chases and special effects despite the low budget (even though some great shots are sneaked in more than once in true low-budget style!)
    The package is finished with a brooding synthesized score to go with it's general weirdness and a mixture of suprisingly good cheesy rock & pop music from the era.
    This was, no doubt, part of the staple diet of teen horror fans of the era and is a bit of a treat for fans of this genre even today. Like so many movies of this era, it's a pure comic book on the screen.
    Notice that, in common with many 80's teen favorites, The Wraith portrays a world, on the edge of society, seemingly inhabited only be teenagers and ineffective cardboard authority figures. This world seems to be a feature of the movies of that era, and one that requires that we 'suspend disbelief' and just go with the fun -but if you're prepared to do that, it's pure, cheesy fun all the way...
    DVD NEWS: Region 2 DVD owners have seen a barely acceptable showing on DVD, but if you have a multi-region DVD player capable of playing PAL disks (same as UK/Europe), you can now enjoy The Wraith on widescreen anamorphic DVD for about $15 or £10 !!!
    How? In Australia (region 4) it is available with an absolutely stunning transfer and can be ordered worldwide. We have checked this service and ours arrived in 4 days!!! The remastering is so good it was like watching a new film. It could have been THX approved, it is that good! This is great news for fans of this cult classic. NEW! Click Here for screenshot comparisons and more info or Click Here to order. Get it quick before it is deleted...
    Written By: Nick [Contact]
    Not a film for the serious film critic, "The Wraith" nevertheless is a lot of fun and will remind people who were around at the time very much of the kind of movies they were watching when their parents were away...Rewind Factor: 9.2
    *
    The "Turbo Interceptor" featured in the movie was a "real car". It was loaned to the production by Dodge and was, in fact their PPG pace car -Codename M4S. It had a 2.2 litre twin turbocharged engine very similar to to the Ford Cosworth unit that European readers would know all about from the 80's Ford Sierra budget Supercar. See the links section, on the right, for more info, including *interior* shots of the car!
    This flick is a favorite of Shelby Dodge enthusiast for obvious reasons. Most of the cars, including the Turbo Interceptor were all 2.2L 4 cylinder Chrysler Turbo's. Some of the best race scenes had 2.2L Dodge Daytona's in them. And while the first race scene with the white Daytona Turbo Z keeping up with the Corvette may not seem feasible. I can guarantee you, the Daytona was very well capable of beating the Corvette in real life if it had the right performance modifications. Even the police were driving turbo-charged Plymouth Reliants. The Turbo Interceptor had a prototype twin turbo setup, but was primarily based on the 2.2L Chrysler engine. Even now, the owner's of 80's Turbo Dodges drive their cars to victory in everything from street racing to autocross to drag racing. And they remain a best kept little secret in the world of hot rodding. [Thanks to Mike Grantham]
    Nick Cassevates is the son of legendary actor/director John Cassevates. Since acting in The Wraith, he worked regularly and has now gone on to direct himself, with such films as "She's so lovely". His latest feature "Going After Cacciato" was also written by him.
    Writer/ Director Mike Marvin also did "Hot Dog" in 1984 and later did "Hamburger" in 1986.
    Born in Detroit, Michigan, Cherilyn Fenn had an unconventional childhood. She and her two older sisters and a young half-sister and half-brother spent their growing-up years moving from place to place with their mother, who played keyboards for various rock bands. Sherilyn got used to changing schools and sets of friends. She recalls that "it was a little unsettling always being the 'new girl,' but I developed an instinct for knowing who my friends would be immediately." At 17, Fenn and her mother moved to Beverly Hills. The teenager decided to pursue an acting career and studied for a year with various teachers. After a brief stint as a Playboy bunny at the Century City (L.A.) Playboy Club, Ms. Fenn appeared in a number of small features, including "Out of Control," "The Wraith," opposite Charlie Sheen, and "Prep School," with Virginia Madsen. [Source: Twin Peaks press kit]
    One of the waitresses at Big Kay's Burgers is Brooke Burke, former host of the E! Wild On tv show, now the host of E! Rank and a calender model. [Thanks to Bella]
    Mike Marvin directed the final skiing sequence in "Better Off Dead".
    The Turbo Interceptor car is now available in a newer model for about 70 thousand dollars. Badged as the "Wraith II", it was originally developed by a comp[any called Dalesar and is now available for purchase through a multi-millionare family in Pennsylvania. [Thanks to Jeff Krawczyk]
    One crew member was tragically killed and another critically injured during a chase sequence shot on a mountainside outside Tucson.
    Wow Steve and all members was that a review from a website called fast rewind dedicated to movies of the 1980s with a way to purchase discs or Vhs at low prices to keep the website going IMHO. Here's the *proof* of where this material can be found under browse. I can't stick a spoiler on that website, if you have seen the movie then click/hit to highlight.Horror/Occultwww.fast-rewind.com
    ________________________________________
    Moderator there was so many breaks, please edit if you need to, I put the spoiler on for those who might want to see this film, to not know all of what they are in for.[​IMG]
     
  3. Drew Mertz

    Drew Mertz Stunt Coordinator

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    I too have the wraith dvd, It is a descent transfer...but even though its presented full frame your actually getting less than what the vhs version had to show. When I first got the wraith I tested it by running the DVD & VHS at the same time and it seemed that the DVD was sligtly loomed in. all 4 sides are missing part of the picture thats present on the VHS. Also there are are scenes that frames have been added and taken away. Nothing thats really noticeable. I have the original VHS release and the sex scene in question was include there so it must have been a re-release of the movie that it was removed from.
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    yeah, this is a pretty good flick. not sure if i would purchase a dvd, but i'll watch it just about every time it's on tv! [​IMG]
     
  5. Mike Click

    Mike Click Stunt Coordinator

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    Ted I *had* to have this movie, and it's super cool soundtrack that sold for $60 on eBay. Soundtrack was only released on compact cassette and LP Vinyl. This movie we're talking about I have seen 100+ times
    I have digital choice cable TV, and only subscribe to basic and no commercial cutting of the movie HBO/Cinemax AKA The Max Pack. I am 55 years old and the 80s were a lot of fun, this movie made a big impression on me, the first time I saw it.
    [​IMG]
    Off/Topic: Back about 15 years ago I edited the music of this film, to include the chases with some wild music to go along with it. This movie and Eddie and the Cruisers has music with the sound of cars in it. BTW I recorded these movies on Vhs Hi-Fi deck in *line*. Line can usually be seen under channel 2, it's purpose is to record 'without' a video signal. 1981 was the year of my finding out that this could be done. The owner could record up to 8 hours of continuous music on a T-160 'party' tape. EP would not not be good for movies, but we are talking about music. Extended Play (EP) sounded really great in Dolby Surround, as both of the above movies were recorded in that format.
    Compact Cassette at most could only record 2 hours with a easy to break thin film, my first workaround to break free, as reel to reel couldn't be 'hidden' under the dash.
    I was the first in my city to have a Hi-
    Fi Vcr converted to running on 12 volts for my 1966 Mustang. I never ran out of music cruising the strip, using T-160 or 8 hours of EP music on Line, 22 years ago in the last century![​IMG]
     
  6. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i just saw a buch of these with the large jewel case at borders near me.
    about $7.
     
  7. Mike Click

    Mike Click Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the .jpeg of the cover art jewel case, it's proof enough that some movies were/are sold in jewel cases. I ordered the R4 disc for OAR and sound through the fast-rewind site. I believe that these pan and scam with monaural sound discs were cheaply made, without true OAR or Dolby Pro-Logic sound. IMHO
     

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