Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 93 mins .
M15+ . PAL
One of the best feelings in the world of DVD is when one of your favorite films comes to the format; no matter how bad the movie is. The Wraith is one such movie. A low budget sci-fi action thriller that fared very poorly at the box office yet went on to become a huge cult classic on the VHS market. It can best be described as a cross between The Crow and Mad Max and interestingly enough, was released exactly in the middle, year wise, of those two movies. Where would we be without useless trivia?!
The Dodge Interceptor in action...
Let's not get too creative with the plot description here as we'd probably give the movie more depth than it already has. A bunch of road pirates use drag racing as a means to take ownership of the 'pink-slips' of unsuspecting drivers; claiming their cars as prizes for those unfamiliar with the concept. Led by their fearless leader Packard Walsh (Jim Cassavetes) and his slave girlfriend Keri (Sherilyn Fenn), the gang of hoodlums, featuring Rughead (Clint Howard, Rons brother), are about to have a very bad week.
It seems The Wraith (Charlie Sheen), has come back to haunt them after being killed during a moment of rage when Packard finds him and his girl Keri doing the deed. This time around, the Wraith has his own instrument of destruction, a Dodge Interceptor with the showroom floor option of indestructability installed on all panels.
As members of the gang start dying in tragic circumstances, Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid) starts an investigation to find out just who is behind all the murders, secretly applauding the efforts of this ghost as it kills off this derelect bunch of misfits.
This is the transfer that will make people stand up and take notice of what Force Video are now capable of. This image demands some long lost respect and if their future titles can reach the lasting impression this disc has on this reviewer, then we're in for some good times.
Presented in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded for anamorphic presentation, this image looks absolutely beautiful. Having my expectations deadened by personal experience of existing Force titles and reading reviews of their other titles, this image simply blows you away. This is on par with some of the better transfers currently out there and put a lot of recent, post 1986, releases to absolute shame.
The detail inherent in the image is enough to finally give you that excuse to retire your VHS copy to the bottom shelf or back into the 'ready-to-record' pile. Couple that with some excellent black levels and shadow detail and a color palette that is very vibrant with a high level of contrast in some select scenes and you've got an absolute winner. The screen grabs speak for themselves.
Blue Lights and Lego.
The original sound mix of the movie was in plain Dolby Stereo, nothing more, nothing less, and the reproduction of the soundtrack on the DVD is as good as you're going to get with this effort.
As with most stereo soundtracks, the front soundstage is the focus and even when forcing the Pro-Logic DSP mode, the surrounds came into their own when really needed. Bass response was adequate, not lacking, but not really called for other than the explosions and some weak engine rumbling. Channel separation across the front was excellent and the music was rendered surprisingly well for such a low budget effort.
Speaking of music, if ever there was a soundtrack that typified the 80's, this would have to be one of them. Watching it now, cheesy really is the only word to describe it. Actually, Cheesy describes the whole movie. As Homer would say "Mmmmm, 64 slices of American Cheese", and that's exactly what you get with the soundtrack giving it the Colby stamp of approval.
The extras on this disc are as rare as the prototype Dodge Interceptor in the movie. Whilst a reported 6 cars were ever made, and are still in existence today, the number of extras on this disc still remains at 0. Unless you want to count anamorphically enhanced menu screens an extra, you're dumb out of luck.
This is a cult classic that has finally made it to our beloved format. Whilst the appeal of the film had a b-grade quality partner in the VHS format, which really did give it that shonky character, the DVD breathes new life into the movie and will spawn a new generation of followers.
The once futuristic looking Dodge is now still a cool looking car and closely resembles the Jaguar XJ220. The hair styles, the clothes, the cars and the attitude is so outdated, yet you can't help but get drawn into it's cheesy dialogue and acting.
The memories have come flooding back and I'm loving every minute of it.