April 6, 2016

Movie Review: Trick or Treat (1986)

As you know, it took a long time for me to get into horror movies. In my early days of movie fandom, but before I truly become a horror aficionado, I would peruse the horror racks at the video store where I worked. I would check out the mainstays like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween, but I would also check out things like The Surgeon, The Dentist, and Dr. Giggles. Then there was Trick or Treat. It was an odd little title that liked to trumpet the cameos of Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne, looking for some metal street cred. It is a campy movie that is easy to dismiss, but you shouldn’t.

Trick or Treat was directed by Charles Martin Smith, a man who did not spend much more time in the horror genre, spending more time with family fare, helming the two Dolphin Tale films and Air Bud. Still, this will always be known as his first, a foray into heavy metal driven, occult horror, and brush with rock superstardom, forever etched on the minds of the fans. As for the story, it is credited to Rhet Topham (976-Evil), Michael S. Murphey (mostly a producer on films such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Dredd), and Joel Soisson (Pulse 2 and 3, Children of the Corn: Genesis, and lots more straight to video horror titles). Also of note, I see Glen Morgan and James Wong credited with doing some uncredited script work (they of The X-Files and Final Destination fame).

The movie centers on Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price in the midst of his run as Skippy on Family Ties). Eddie is a high school outsider, a metal fan who praises genre superstar Sammi Curr (Tony Fields). Early in the movie we get a picture of Eddie painted, forever picked on and bullied, an introvert who throws himself into the music. When he learns that Sammi was killed in a fire, he is devastated. Well, that very day, he pays a visit to Nuke (Simmons), a local rock DJ, where he is given a record album. It is the last recording of Sammi Curr, the only copy in existence. This is where the trouble begins.

Eddie, who calls himself Ragman, is told there is a piece of Sammi in the record. This turns out to be all too true. Eddie hears backwards messages speaking to him, and then people get hurt and killed. It all leads up to Sammi actually appearing, and in true Carrie-style, wreaking havok on a school dance. It is up to Eddie to save the day.

There is no denying the movie is cheesy; however, there is something endearing about it. It is not over the top in gore or anything and it is filled with vintage 80’s style, but it works. It will never be considered one of the greats, but for a goofy horror movie willed with heavy metal (provided by the band Fastway) and occult imagery, it is easy to like.

The thing that struck me was how different the movie would be if it were made today, something we get a chance to explore as I have seen reports that Joel Soisson was interested in possibly remaking it. Think about the main character, his dark clothing, outsider status, picked on and bullied, and into heavy metal music. Think about how that sort of character would be portrayed in this post-Columbine world. For better or worse, everyone’s eyes would be on him, looking at him as a potential mass murderer. I think it could be an interesting angle to explore.

There really is no way that Trick or Treat would be the same today as it was in 1986. The cheese would have to be toned down, the hero adjusted through the filter of time, among other necessary adjustments. Still, looking back on it as a time capsule of a bygone era, it is a silly film that fails to hold up stylistically, but is endearing, has some heart, some good music, and just does its entertaining best to grab onto the fears of metal paired with backwards messages and occultism.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment