DIEmonds in the Rough (Halfoween Edition): Trick Or Treat (1986)
It’s Halfoween around here at the Midnight Society, so I decided to make this installment of DIEmonds in the Rough a Halloween-themed one, by discussing one of my all-time favorite ’80s horror flicks, Trick or Treat.
But let’s be honest–they’re all my favorites, aren’t they?
Anyway, Trick or Treat is a 1986 film that combined my two favorite things in the world–horror and heavy metal. Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons and a soundtrack to die for ensured I would love this movie before even seeing a frame of it.
In Trick or Treat, Eddie Weinbauer is a bullied high school kid that uses metal music as an escape. Rockstar Sammi Curr is Eddie’s hero, both for his music and the fact he’s from Eddie’s hometown of Lakeridge (great name). But when Sammi dies in a hotel fire, Eddie is crushed. Luckily, the local DJ (Gene Simmons) has a copy of Sammi’s last-recorded, unreleased album, which he gives to Eddie. And when Eddie plays the record backwards (because duh), the ghost of Sammi begins speaking to him, telling him how to get revenge on the kids who bullied him.
Everything goes really perfectly from there.
I’m just kidding. It goes really, really badly.
If you’re going to make a kick-ass horror movie involving heavy metal, you’re gonna want a badass lead. So obviously, you bring in Skippy from Family Ties.
Damn skippy! Marc Price plays Eddie, and all joking aside, he does a pretty decent job with what he’s given–which is not much. But the casting of Price was actually a stroke of brilliance (intentional or not), because a lot of kids who “didn’t fit in” found a great escape in the world of heavy metal. I know I did.
The movie’s entire premise is based on one of the biggest cliches regarding the “evils” of metal–the idea that playing a record backward reveals hidden lyrics and satanic magicks. Add to that the whole televangelists against Satan’s music thing, and sprinkle in your typical douchey bully (played by Melrose Place alum Doug Savant), and it’s a cliche-tastrophe.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This movie is overflowing with awesome rock and heavy metal references. In addition to Gene Simmons and Ozzy having bit parts, there are tons of great shots of metal album covers, t-shirts and jean jacket patches. And did I mention the soundtrack? Fastway, featuring former Motorhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, recorded an entire album of new material for this movie. It’s chock full of ‘80s riff-filled anthems like title song “Trick or Treat,” “After Midnight” and “Get Tough.” It’s a legitimately great ‘80s album, aside from the movie. As a soundtrack, it’s superb.
On the horror front, there are some great music-themed kills and mayhem. Headphones that melt listeners’ ears, lightning bolt-throwing guitars and more. And the special effects are pretty decent, too.
Tony Fields (who sadly passed away in 1995) really relishes the role of Sammi Curr. His snarling, arrogant rock star persona is perfect for this film, and he has a lot of fun with it.
Trick or Treat is a blast, and I still watch it at least once a year. It’s a great time capsule of ’80s rock and metal, and also of the misconceptions many had about the music and the culture around it. If you haven’t seen it yet, rock out with Trick or Treat this weekend. You’ll thank me.