Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writers: Joel Soisson, Michael S. Murphey, Rhet Topham
Starring: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Trick or Treat is a supernatural horror film from director Charles Martin Smith. Released in 1986, it plays on the fears that rock music has hidden satanic messages that are revealed when played backwards. Marc Price stars as Eddie Weinbauer, a high school student who is obsessed with Sammi Curr (Tony Fields), a heavy metal musician who previously went to the same school that Eddie is attending.
The film starts with Eddie writing a letter to Sammi, and he sounds like an unhinged fanatic as he does. Shortly afterwards it’s revealed on the news that Sammi Curr had been denied playing a homecoming concert at the school and has also died in a hotel fire. This shatters Eddie’s world, and he has a small breakdown, tearing down posters in his room. He then gets a vinyl from a local DJ, that contains a final unreleased Sammi Curr song. Only when Eddie plays it, he finds there’s a message just for him hidden within the song.
As a premise it’s pretty interesting. Eddie is bullied by pretty much everyone at school and turns to music as an escape. As his hero, that he treats like a God, dies he hears the secret message that helps him seek revenge on his classmates. For a brief moment it seems like the film is going to play with the idea that he’s imagining it, but it very quickly becomes obvious that the message is real and Sammi Curr somehow survived death through the song. In another universe there is a much better film about a unhinged schoolkid, but after the set up this becomes a very cookie cutter horror film.
The biggest draw to watching Trick or Treat is that Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne make appearances. Simmons was originally offered the role of Sammi Curr, but turned it down and ends up being the radio DJ that gives Eddie the unreleased song. Even better is Osbourne, who appears as a reverend on TV who denounces heavy metal music, which is just brilliant. He also appears in a brief post-credits scene doing the same thing.
As the film goes on it does start to drag quite a bit. It’s a typical 80s high school horror film, even with a big scene set at a school dance. It would have been a lot more interesting if Eddie ended up being the villain, which is what the opening of the film felt like it was setting up. Instead Eddie becomes the hero and goes through the motions until he saves the day. It feels a lot longer than ninety-three minutes.
Once Sammi manifests he attacks a few different people through TV screens, dragging them into the real world or swiping them away as they recoil in pain. It looks cool, but it does leave you wondering if anyone else noticed that while watching. Then later he obliterates people and barely anyone notices at first, so the people in the world of the film are just dumb.
The film is a blend of comedy and horror but doesn’t really excel at either. There are some good moments, the best being Osbourne’s cameo, but they’re not worth watching the whole film for.
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This was a blast from the past! The only thing I remember about it was Simmons and Osbourne. And as I’m reading it made me think of Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.
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Those two are the best bits about it!
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