HAIR METAL MOVIE MADNESS #5: Charlie Sheen remakes Clint Eastwood to become a Spectre of Vengence! by DARK SIDE
Many of us grew up in the 80’s watching the movies andlistening to music. One song from that era can bring back so many great memories. Sometimes… songs remind us of movies (or vice-versa). HAIR METAL MOVIE MADNESS brings back those memories by connecting the songs we loved from the 80’s to the movie(s) they were attached to. Visit The Small Town Critic every Saturday (in this case, Friday) to rock out with us to the songs and movies that shaped a generation…
“It’s a wraith, man! An evil spirit and it ain’t cool!” -Clint Howard The Wraith (1986)
Such a quote from Clint Howard back in the 80’s might suggest a horror movie, but The Wraith is actually one of the most underrated sci-fi action movies of the decade. Why is it sci-fi instead of horror? Because the killer is a good guy and he looks like Robocop. That’s why.
Oddly enough, it’s a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1973 faux-Spaghetti Western/ghost tale High Plains Drifter.
Like Drifter, The Wraith tells the story of a guy (Charlie Sheen) cut down by a group of outlaws who returns in a different body to take revenge on the thugs who killed him. Except in this movie, the protagonist uses the coolest car ever built to dispatch his killers.
There it is, the Dodge Turbo Interceptor. A concept car that never saw production (here on Earth) but will live on in history as the badass killer car in The Wraith. I didn’t know Dodge produced a model specifically for demons from hell, but man, I want it.
Nick Cassavettes (yes, the director of The Notebook and son of John Cassavettes) plays Packard Walsh, a psychopathic road pirate who forces kids to race their hot rides so he can win their pink slips. When Jamie Hankins (Sheen’s character’s other body) steals Packard’s squeeze Keri (Sherilyn Fenn), Packard and his cronies get stabby. With Jamie dead, Packard takes to terrorizing Keri and the rest of the youthful Arizona community. About a year later, the mysterious Jake (Sheen) comes to town, catching Keri’s attention which makes Packard all suspicious-like. Simultaneously, a helmet-wearing, Robocop-looking dude appears and starts picking off Packard’s gang one by one in his awesome Dodge Turbo Interceptor. Coincidence? I think not.
We’re talkin’ some serious 80’s teen movie magic here. You got Charlie Sheen, fast cars, huge crashes, rockin’ music, Dennis Quaid as a sheriff and Clint Howard as a nerdy car customizer. Comic relief comes in the form of Gutterboy and Skank, two mentally challenged hopheads who work on Packard’s rides. The most outstanding contribution comes from Skank who refers to animal excrement as “dog squeeze,” a term now permanently embedded into my lexicon. Yep, this movie has it all.
Did I mention Sherylin Fenn goes topless? There, that ought to sweeten the pot. Gotta love that ambiguous 1980’s PG-13 rating.
Tragically, a crew member died while filming one of the crash scenes and the film is dedicated to his memory.
The Song: Never Surrender by Lion
No, that’s not Never Surrender by Cory Hart and the band isn’t White Lion. I got my stuff straight. Pehaps most famous for reinventing the Transformers TV theme song for the first Transformers animated movie, Lion never achieved a massive amount of hair metal success. Consequently, their drummer died after driving his motorcycle off of cliff (not trying to be funny here, but it’s a strange coincidence considering The Wraith sequence that includes Never Surrender ends with a car crash).
Never Surrender plays during one of the most exciting scenes of the film. It’s the 2nd race where one of Packard’s gang members attempts to avenge the death of their buddy Oggie played by Griffin O’Neal (the troubled son of Ryan O’Neal). Strangely, Griffin accidentally killed Francis Ford Coppola’s son in a drug-fueled boating wreck and was indicted for manslaughter only a year after this film released. Perhaps the film is cursed? Even if it’s not, let’s go ahead and start that rumor, okay? You heard it first here.
If I come back from the dead (again), I’d like be reincarnated as an evil “Krusty the Clown” doll.
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