Trick Or Treat

Whenever I cast an eye over the expansive sub-genres that horror movies have managed to cover since the dawn of film, one question always rises into my mind like an unwanted earworm: Why the hell isn’t there more Heavy Metal Horror?
Of course, by Heavy Metal Horror I mean horror films that are set around supernatural or devilish doings around the voluminous hair and tight trousers of that particular brand of music that arguably hit it’s peak during the awesomely tasteless free-for-all that was the 1980’s. It’s an odd and obvious open goal that confounds me to this day and a quick tour of my hot stinging brain can only provide me with grotty Hills Have Eyes clone Blood Tracks, forgotten monster-fest Black Rose’s and modern day gore riot Deathgasm – although I’m positive there’s more.
However, the most fondly remembered of these (or remembered at all for that matter) is the cult flick Trick Or Treat, a funky Freddy Krueger clone directed by the man who went on to give us the truly terrifying experience known as Air Bud…

Eddie is your typical high school outcast; mercilessly picked on by the rich kids for being weird his only outlet is to drape himself in sleeveless black shirts and way too much denim and rock out to his hero, cockatiel mulleted musician and self proclaimed rock’s chosen warrior, Sammi Curr. After being the victim of a prank even the kids from Carrie would seem too much, the world desires to shit on Eddie that little bit more when he finds out that his hard rocking idol has died in a hotel fire the week he was supposed to return to his home town for a Halloween gig. Of course, at this point we should be worried that Eddie’s got a fair chance of snapping like a twig and striding into his school the next day with an AK-47 but luckily school shootings wasn’t in vogue back then – no, instead Eddie manages to get his hands on an exclusive Sammi Curr record that contains a song previously unreleased which, when played, allows the malevolent metaler’s spirit to avenge Eddie’s bullys from beyond the grave. However, after Curr’s influence unsurprisingly grows dangerous, Eddie realises that his former hero’s thirst for revenge goes way beyond protecting his biggest fan and that this supernatural singer has dark plans in store for the whole town when Halloween finally arrives…

Fondly remembered by those who saw it at an impressionable age – although admittedly they can’t remember why – Trick Or Treat is a perfectly acceptable 80’s romp that admirably tries to launch an entirely new horror villian in the wake of the huge reaction to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street and has the distinct vibe of that movie’s first sequel thanks to the central plot of an undead creep trying to groom a bullied teenager to kill from beyond the grave.
For a film that never really gets mentioned all that much here’s a lot of aspects that Trick Or Treat gets right; chiefly that of it’s main character Eddie Weinbauer who’s actually scripted and acted far more genuine than most of the hugely punchable teenage dirtbags you usually get in this sort of film. Keeping the whinging to a merciful minimum, actor Marc Price may look like a poor man’s Sean Austin but he makes Eddie suprisingly relatable while still being believably anti-social and makes for a nicely rootable hero once he finally sees his idol’s true colours.
In comparison, the other characters seem overly dependable, with the female lead not really given a plausible reason to suddenly be attracted to Eddie other than the fact that she feels guilty for being in the general vicinity while he was getting bullied by the kind of rich jerks you’ve literally seen a hundred times before.
But screw this noise! No one ever came to a horror movie for the supporting cast! 80’s genre fare lived and died on the strength of it’s villain’s gimmicks alone and it’s here where the true mettle (or should that be metal) of the film is put to the test in the shape of scabby antagonist Sammi Curr who, to be fair, isn’t that bad at all.
Sneering at everything within a direct line of sight while having his mountainous hairdo constantly buffeted by what looks like Beyonce’s invisible wind machine, Curr boasts some nifty powers that’s awfully reminiscent of Shocker’s Horace Pinker (naughty naughty Wes Craven). Racking up some electricity based teleporting alongside the ability to hold a tune and throw himself nimbly around a stage like Freddie Mercury, Sammi can also shoot lethal bolts from his guitar and can even kill people by reaching into a TV screen and yanking them through from the other side leaving them as an ashy pile. Also, in a moment that’s completely and utterly out of left field, listening to his music has the rather bizarre side effect of conjuring a briefly seen, scaly rape-demon equipped unleashes a tongue so long it would give Gene Simmons a palsy and is oddly nasty considering the rest of the film is fairly good natured. This cool array of talents is bolstered even further by the fact that the film opts to keep Curr a mystery for most of the film (aside from a TV interview early in proceedings we only see him after he’s dead) but you feel that the film would have benefited with a little more screen time from Tony Fields’ charismatic and very physical performance as he struts and stalks around the place like a lycra clad rooster.
If there’s a problem with Trick Or Treat it’s that it strangely somewhat of a low key affair that, despite being frequently witty, somehow lacks the bells and whistles to fully justify to me why it has such a warm, cult following. What’s even weirder is that it all feels a little modest despite boasting entertaining cameos from not only the Kiss army’s very own Gene Simmons, but legendary bat consumer Ozzy Osbourne too as an anti-rock evangelist; and you feel that a genre film that interests itself with such an energetic type of music would be a bit more frenetic and fast paced… the music’s good though…
But perhaps the most notable thing about Trick Or Treat is how subdued the gore quota is with the victims of Sammi Curr’s electricity flinging rampage merely leaving smoldering piles of clothes or smoking pairs of shoes in his wake and if it wasn’t for that scene of spectral sexual assault the film would surprisingly make a pretty fucking good Goosebumps tale…
Better than average, Trick Or Treat nevertheless fails to stand out enough for me personally possibly because it slipped through the cracks during my horror-centric youth but it’s still a worthy discovery even if it rolls more when it should rock…


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