Trick or Treat (1986)

Trick or Treat (1986)

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"Hey, I'm the kid who likes heavy metal."
“Hey, I’m the kid who likes heavy metal.”

Twitter Plot Summary: A heavy metal fan has to stop the manifestation of his dead hero from killing everyone. In other words, a standard Saturday night.

The 1980s, era of anthemic hair metal, hair spray and dodgy acting performances from… well, almost everyone. Trick or Treat is your typical 80s piece, a world in which metal fans are ostracised for their faith in The Metal. Sadly as recent events have indicated, in particular the murder of Sophie Lancaster a few years ago, it remains something which is a relevant today as it was in the 80s. The ironic thing is that, despite their often extreme appearances, metal fans are some of the most lovely people you could ever hope to meet. So it goes.

Marc Price is the metal loving outcast Eddie who undergoes the metalhead equivalent of a crisis of faith when his rock hero Sammi Curr dies in a hotel fire. Meanwhile he’s being bullied by a group of jocks in his school but soon discovers a hidden message when one of his records skips and plays backwards. Before long his dead idol is manifesting himself back in the real world, and despite his frankly awesome hair is intent on wreaking havoc with his freaky control over electricity. It’s clearly a concept derived from the incident where two teenagers apparently noted subliminal messages within the songs of Judas Priest, which then led to the controversial and ultimately ridiculous court case in 1989 where the band had to defend themselves against the accusation that the subliminal message had been included intentionally.

Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo as a disgusted reverend does actually provide a few chuckles, but mostly because it’s Ozzy and his acting skills leave plenty to be desired. Gene Simmons, thankfully, isn’t too bad in a brief cameo as radio DJ Nuke. In fact, it might have been far better had Gene and Ozzy swapped roles. Or, even better, Ozzy had not been in it at all. Price is okay as the lead character, even if the script doesn’t call for him to do all that much apart from look angry most of the time. The popular kids who give him stick at school are so generic it’s difficult to analyse them without lapsing into stereotype.

"Please don't make me watch Ozzy acting again! PLEASE!"
“Please don’t make me watch Ozzy acting again! PLEASE!”

Besides those cameos and the Heavy Metal vibe, it’s almost exactly the same story as seen in most teen horror/slasher flicks of the era, with the Freddie Krueger character replaced by a demonic rock singer. Starting with an initially comedic tone, it gradually loses its sense of fun and degrades into much more serious territory. This is further emphasised by the slow reduction in rock songs on the soundtrack and into more traditional film score territory.

The special effects may be resolutely cheap and cheerful, but they’re appropriate and don’t overstay their welcome. Much more galling is Sammi Curr’s awful lip-synched performance at the Halloween bash. At least he only does that for the one song, any more and it might have been a less enjoyable film. As it is, most of its story beats are taken directly from the Freddy Krueger school of slasher horror plotting, and for the most part is no different to many other horror films of the era.

Score: 3/5

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