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TRICK OR TREAT: BANG YOUR HEAD, WAKE THE DEAD By RICK BALDWIN

“I wanna rock!”

-Twisted Sister

 

Every Halloween, TV provides the same holiday programming year after year.  Not all of the titles are terrible, but they do grow tiresome, which leaves fright fans without much to anticipate.  Like this year, The Leprechaun franchise is being played repeatedly.  Just because a film is horror, doesn’t mean it should play into the theme of Halloween.  Try to stick with the theme programmers!  Laziness, will and shall not be tolerated, what seems to appear as a very cool and easy job in TV programming.  I understand it comes down to legalities and licensing, but c’mon!  Wouldn’t The Leprechaun suit St. Patrick’s Day better after playing The Boondock Saints (1999)?  I think so.

Sure, partake in the Halloween franchise, which is expected, and take in the underappreciated Trick ‘r Treat (2007), as part of your late October cinema traditions.  There is much to watch, don’t let cable TV be your guide to cinema enlightment.  There are so many titles focused on Halloween, which unfortunately fall through the cracks.  Today’s feature is one of those unknown, cult films that produces glee in horror buffs and 80’s metal heads alike at the mere mention.  Even I was unaware of this fright film, until I discovered it in the bottom of a discount bin at the Gateway to Hell, aka Walmart back in 2002.  So spray your Aqua Net, don your leather, and crank up the volume, as we join the metal movie militia in Trick or Treat (1986).

Our hero, Eddie, Marc “Skippy” Price of Family Ties (1982), is the constant target of bully Tim, Doug Savant of Teen Wolf (1985), due to his love of heavy metal which renders him as a social outcast at school.  You remember the poor kid at your school, that was always proud to wear band t-shirts and picked on by the jocks.  Eddie is that poor sap.  Eddie finds sanctuary in his bedroom, with stacks of music accented with poster laden walls, from such acts as Megadeth, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Savatage and Mötley Crüe, just to name a few.  I believe HGTV calls that Heavy Metal Chic.  

Who was your musical hero in high school?  Eddie writes a fan letter to his musical hero, fictious heavy metal musician Sammi Curr, Tony Fields of A Chorus Line (1985) and a dancing zombie in Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983).  The role was originally slated for Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P.  before the Solid Gold dancing Fields jazz fingered his way into the role.  Curr, is like a glam metal offspring of Marc Bolan of T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Pete Burns of Dead or Alive (when he was still a dude), and The Trickster from Brainscan (1994).  I know it’s weird, it’s just my opinion.   

Curr is crude, rude, and in your face.  All of important traits that fuels teen age angst while he epitomizes himself as a parent’s worst nightmare.  Though Eddie is a rocker with a little bit of a whiney teenage attitude, all in all, he’s a good kid that really isn’t that much of a pain in the neck for his mom, Angie, Elaine Joyce of Motel Hell (1980).  Curr, is an alumnus of Eddie’s high school and somehow booked to play the upcoming Halloween dance.  The exciting news is short-lived, when Curr is banned by the school board due to his anarchistic, obscene behavior which would be detrimental for the teens.  Good thing GWAR wasn’t booked.

Eddie’s world crashes down like a lead balloon, when the TV news reveals that Curr has died in a mysterious hotel fire.  Not the first or last incident to happen at a hotel where an unruly rock star lodges.  Just ask The Who or Led Zeppelin about their crazy hotel shenanigans.  Eddie, distraught over Curr’s death, much like fans where over Randy Rhoades’ untimely death in 1982 and Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, seeks wisdom and solace in local rock jock, Nuke, Gene Simmons of KISS.   Nuke gives Eddie an album to help the lad in his time of despair.  Studies show that music does indeed heal a sorrowful soul.  The album is the last and not yet released work from Curr, Songs in the Key of Death (Curr’s music performed by the band Fastway, members of Motörhead, UFO, Flogging Molly, and Humble Pie), which has been dubbed by Nuke to be played at midnight on Halloween.

Eddie excited to play the special album, falls asleep while he listens which invoke scary visions about Curr’s flaming demise which leaves him a crispy critter.  I’m sorry, but anytime I received an album I was excited about, the last thing I did was get in bed and fall asleep.  Well maybe to Pink Floyd for obvious reasons, but that is neither here nor there.  Eddie awakens to find his valuable vinyl is skipping on a bizarre set of lyrics.  Much to the folklore of 70s/80s to hard rock scene, albums were all rumored to have subliminal messages (false accusations blaming Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne of such actions made headline news in the decade) and if played backwards, would invite Lucifer to one’s bedroom for a hell of a night full of Dokken and MGD.  Eddie of course plays the album backwards and awakens Curr from the grave.  Great makeup effects by a young Kevin Yagher of who would later go to work on the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Rather than Curr jamming with his number 1 fan Eddie, he instructs his disciple to seek bloody revenge on all of the bullies of the high school.  The plots of sweet revenge, encouraged by Curr, soon spin out of control as Eddie scampers into criminal territory with plans to Kill ‘em All.  Eddie bites off more bat than he can chew, and realizes he is not a mean spirited gent like Curr, and regrets opening this heavy metal Pandora’s Box.  Once an rock God to Eddie, the two battle it out as Curr wants to rock n’ roll all night, and murder every day back among the living.  Hey, Killing is Business…and Business is Good.  Will Eddie get this demonic monkey off his back?  Will Eddie be able to defeat this monster of rock and save his high school?  Well, if you are Hell Bent for Leather, than give Trick or Treat a view.

Trick or Treat was directed by longtime actor, Charles Martin Smith of The Untouchables (1987), with a screenplay by Rhet Topham of 976-Evil (1988), Michael S. Murphey of Sometimes They Come Back (1991), Joel Soisson of Feast (2005), Glen Morgan of Black Christmas (2006), and James Wong of Final Destination (2000). Phew!  The film is only 98 minutes, did it really need that many writers?

Trick or Treat is a stereotypical 80s flick covering the heavy metal devil worship allegations that the suits theorized to the public in hopes of enforcing strict censorship laws on the music industry, led by Tipper Gore and Susan Baker’s of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).  Tipper went to battle with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Frank Zappa, Joey Ramone, Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra, and the nonthreatening John Denver.  PMRC won, and that is where we get our censorship stickers to inform parents of what their kids are listening to.  Not really censorship, but more of an awareness policy for consumers, and no were close to the outright bans on films in the U.K. that made it on Mary Whitehouse’s notorious Video Nasties list.

Trick definitely has some treats for the viewers as the film pokes fun at the allegations of satanic worship of the day, the TV waves are infected by a heavy metal hating televangelist, Reverend Gilstrom, played by Ozzy Osbourne (the rocker who supposedly urinated on The Alamo) with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, as he spreads the good word.  Trick or Treat was not long after “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez went on a killing spree out west in the summer of ’85 and him leaving behind an AC/DC baseball cap at a crime scene before his apprehension.  Because the satanic Ramirez was a fan of AC/DC, that started another controversy for the rock community.  Some people are just sick.  Leave the music out of it.

Trick also showcases the talents of Alice Nunn, as she plays Mrs. Sylvia Cavell.  Nunn is best loved her portrayal of Large Marge in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985).  Trick was released to minimal fanfare and was not even a big box office draw.  Anyone I have talked to, doesn’t even remember seeing TV spots advertising for its release back in 1986. It hit VHS and disappeared into void of racks at Mom and Pop video stores and not really discussed until its 2002 DVD release.  That DVD is a bare bones package, so if you are wanting special features, your best bet is to order the 3 Disc Collector’s Blu-ray Edition released in 2014 out of…Germany.  Or, the next time you want to visit Deutschland for the 85th Anniversary Scorpions’ Tour, be sure to pick yourself up a copy.

Trick or Treat is a must for fans of 80s rock and horror.  It’s a giant cheeseball of a film that should be celebrated by all…at least once.  So, Are You Ready to Rock? Children of the Night.  Because if you are my little Crazies Babies, Trick or Treat is definitely Delivering the Goods.

 

Check out the Trick or Treat trailer

 

View the full movie of Trick or Treat

 

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ANY FILMMAKERS, PRODUCTION COMPANIES, OR DISTRIBUTORS WHO WOULD LIKE TO HAVE YOUR FILMS, MUSIC, & BOOKS REVIEWED, PLEASE CONTACT EITHER MYSELF OR THE INTESTINAL FORTITUDE.

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