Zombos Says: Good
Metalheads, demonic forces, wicked rock and roll, an intimidated outcast teen, and the 1980s seem to go together in horror movies like Honey Nut Cheerios and fat-rich milk. I don’t know if Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price) likes Cheerios, but he does like heavy metal rocker Sammi Curr (Tony Fields). Idolizes him in fact. Sammi does things Eddie dreams of doing if he had the chance. When Sammi goes and dies in a hotel fire, Eddie, disheartened, heads off to school to face his typical day of being emotionally bullied by the in-crowd; the pretty faces, lithe bodies, why-do-you-listen-to-that-crap and why-can't-you-be-like-one-of-us crowd. His day is made worse when jock Tim (Doug Savant) precipitates Eddie's sudden appearance, without his very important shower towel, in the girl's gym class. Luckily for Eddie this is the pre-YouTube, Facebook age, so it was just a Polaroid of his butt making the hallway rounds later.
Sammi, before he became famous, was bullied and intimidated for being different, too. He even graduated from the school Eddie goes to. Both have a lot in common, but it’s Sammi's death that brings them face to face. But at a price of course; this is a horror movie after all.
Eddie's deejay buddy Nuke (Gene Simmons) perks up his down day with the master recording of Sammi's last, unreleased, album. Nuke already has it on tape and is going to play it at midnight. Later, when Eddie falls asleep listening to it, he dreams about Sammi's death. He wakes up to the record repeating some odd words and, on a hunch, tries the old trick of playing the record backwards (now it is an old trick; back then it was fairly new). Eddie realizes Sammi is speaking to him; really, not philosophically. There is no psychological subtlety here, no maybe it is just Eddie going off the deep end. Trick or Treat keeps its Black Sabbath evil straight as any self-respecting 1980s heavy-metalized horror movie should.
Sammi is anxious to get even for all the bullying he had to deal with in school. Eddie wants revenge for all his mistreatment. It’s a match made in Hell and both hook up for some payback; only Sammi plays a lot rougher than Eddie and for cemetery-keeps. When Eddie balks after almost killing Tim in shop class, Sammi pays him a fire and brimstone visit, powered by the amperage in Eddie's stereo.
Ozzy Osbourne puts in a brief appearance as televangelist Reverend Aaron Gilstrom, a crusader against the bad influences of heavy metal music. Brief because, as he appears on Eddie's television set during Sammi's sudden visit from the grave, Sammi reaches into the screen and pulls him out by his Holy Roller neck in a 1980s special effects kind of way.
Not only does Sammi look heavy metal rock and roller musician bad, he is bad.
Eddie realizes he may have misjudged his idol a bit, and with the Halloween school dance about to start, needs to act fast to stop Sammi from exacting his revenge. Powering the dead rocker is his music played from a cassette tape (how many of you remember cassette tapes?).
A seductive scene in Tim's car involving his girlfriend and Sammi's hot music allows for 1980s puppet-demon and melted ears special effects. Eddie deals with the evil cassette, but Nuke has his reel to reel tape set to go at midnight, and Sammi has set up a mystical force field around the machine at the radio station.
As I recall, there were times I wanted to do to my tapes what Eddie does to Sammi's cassette—and do not get me started on those really evil 8 Track cartridges.
Eddie gives the task of destroying the cassette to his only friend, Roger (Glen Morgan). Sammi pays Roger a visit and, well, you know where this one is going. The cassette winds up at the school dance, allowing Sammi to appear for a song accompanied by lethal pyrotechnics. Eddie's sort-of girlfriend, Leslie (Lisa Orgolini), helps him fight Sammi. Both split up; Leslie tries to destroy the reel to reel tape player before midnight and Eddie goes for a hectic drive with Sammi.
Although the scariest things in Trick or Treat are the 1980s hairdos and being reminded of those nasty cassette tapes, Sammi is a cool rock and roll villain, the story is low-key horror fun, and the music is heavy-metally sharp. Eddie's character is one many of us can relate to and his idolization of Sammi mimics our own glorification of our rock and roll gods.
And playing records backwards is really cool to do, especially on Halloween, too.
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