Soundtrack Saturday: “The Wraith”

Written by Film, Soundtrack Saturday

It’s a tale as old as the hills: Leader of a gang of road pirates has the hots for the Girl Next Door, but she loves the Nice Guy. Road Pirate decides that Girl Next Door belongs to him, so he and his gang kill the Nice Guy and he scares Girl Next Door into being his girlfriend. Nice Guy then comes back as Supernatural Drag Racer with a badass car and terrorizes Road Pirate and his gang.

Wait, you mean that tale isn’t as old as the hills? Well, it’s at least the one that’s told in the 1986 sci-fi thriller The Wraith. My brother and I used to watch this movie on cable all the time when we were kids, but I haven’t seen it in years. I randomly thought about it the other day, and after discovering it had just the kind of song score that’s perfect for Soundtrack Saturday, I thought I’d give it a go.

Trailer time!

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As you know by now, one of my favorite things to do when I watch a movie for this column that I’ve either never seen or haven’t seen in a long time is take notes on the things that amuse me and share them with you, (mostly) unedited. This time I decided to turn my notes into a list:

Top 10 Things I Love About The Wraith

1. Clint Howard’s hair.

2. The fact that even though he’s supposed to be some kind of road-pirate hoodlum, Nick Cassavetes wears a shell necklace you probably only would’ve seen on the likes of Leif Garrett and David Cassidy in the ’70s. Also, Nick Cassavetes’s hair.

3. The dialogue. It’s amazing. Lines like “Courage isn’t easy to come by. That’s how he keeps those goons with him all the time. They’re just scared” and “Bad feelings don’t add up to resurrections, buddy” and “Eat hot lead, crud sucker!” FUCKING GENIUS!

4. Clint Howard’s hair.

5. Charlie Sheen’s silly spaceman costume. Oh — that’s supposed to be a scary, super-high-tech killing-machine outfit? Whatever you say.

6. Clint Howard’s hair.

7. The fact that Jake (Charlie Sheen), as the New Kid in Town, drives a dirt bike, but as the Wraith, he drives this badass car — a Wraith Car (I kill me). (For all you car dorks out there, according to ye old Wikipedia, the Wraith Car is based on the 1984 Dodge M4S prototype sports coupe. It was priced at over $1 million and there are rumored to be only four in existence, with another replica having been built.)

8. The names of the dudes in the road gang: Skank, Gutterboy, Rughead, Oggie, Minty. I’ll let you guess which one is Clint Howard.

9. This guy.

10. CLINT HOWARD’S HAIR.

OK, let’s talk about this soundtrack. There’s a whole bunch of rock and hard rock up in this joint, isn’t there? You’ve got Ozzy, Lion, Billy Idol, and Mötley Crüe, among others. But you’ve also got some slow jams, like Bonnie Tyler’s “Matter of the Heart” and LaMarca’s “Hold On Blue Eyes.” There’s even a smattering of new wave with Ian Hunter’s “Wake Up Call” and Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” A little something for everyone.

Interesting fact I learned while reading up on this movie: it’s dedicated to the memory of Bruce Ingram, a camera operator who died while filming one of the car chases. And Lion’s “Never Surrender” was used in one of the race sequences where a car goes over the edge of a cliff and the driver is killed. The drummer of Lion died in the same manner when he accidentally went over the edge of a cliff racing his motorcycle. Creepy, huh?

The official soundtrack album, which was originally released on the Scotti Brothers label, is out of print and only featured 10 of the 15 songs in the film, but I got ’em all for you. Listen to them during your next drag race. Or something.

Tim Feehan – Where’s the Fire
Ozzy Osbourne – Secret Loser
Stan Bush – Hearts Vs. Heads
Ian Hunter – Wake Up Call
Mötley Crüe – Smokin’ in the Boys Room
LaMarca – Hold On Blue Eyes
Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love
Lion – Powerlove
Lion – Never Surrender
Bonnie Tyler – Matter of the Heart
Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
Jill Michaels – Young Love, Hot Love
James House – Bad Mistake
Nick Gilder – Scream of Angels
Honeymoon Suite – Those Were the Days