Trick or Treat (1986)
By: Lauren Monaghan on July 17, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL 1.60:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 92 minutes
The Movie
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Starring: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Doug Savant
Screenplay: Michael S. Murphey, Joel Soisson, Rhet Topham
Music: Fast Eddie Clarke, Fastway, Christopher Young
Tagline: What are you afraid of? It's only rock and roll...
Country: USA
Trick or Treat may very well be the definitive heavy metal horror film – after all, it's hard to go past a movie featuring an electrical-jizz shooting guitar and a rock-god villain who's almost offed by way of flushing toilet.

Add to the mix a head banging, hair teasing soundtrack courtesy of Fastway and the opportunity to see Family Ties' "Skippy" (Marc Price) exercising his questionable acting talents, and its safe to say this little cheese-a-palooza will keep you entertained for all of its 92 minute entirety. Just be sure to bring along a solid appreciation for both 80s rock and 80s horror, lest you be scarred by the sudden, en masse intrusion of wailing guitar riffs and acid wash denim.

In an acting performance to rival the greatness of his Killer Tomatoes Eat France! appearance, in Trick or Treat Price plays Eddie, a teen whose troubles only start with growing up in a decade of perpetual bad hair days. Labelled a weirdo for his love for all things metal, Eddie is picked on at school by the jocks, and looked over by the girl of his dreams. It is only in rock star and idol Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) that Eddie feels he has found true solidarity (even if it is of the one-sided, borderline-boy-crush variety), so when the controversial singer loses his life in the flames of a hotel fire, things seemingly can't get much worse for our distraught little metal-head. Enter Gene Simmons making a cameo appearance as radio host Nuke – a cameo appearance apparently just so exciting to the marketing execs that it required not only his top billing on the DVD, but also the plastering of his image all over the cover, alongside that of the equally briefly appearing Ozzy Osbourne. Really people, must you deceive us so? Is your cruel trickery truly necessary? Must the world always be full of kicked puppies and poor schmos forking out cash only to later have their joy smited under your sinister and manipulative hands? But I digress. Nuke has a gift to lift Eddie's spirits – "the last record of the Curr legacy": a studio demo of Sammi's last album and the only copy in existence.

But as it turns out the record is carrying more than just a legacy, it's also jammed pack full of angry Sammi-spirit. Although at first Eddie is taken with the voice inside his backwards playing record, and with the way in which the popular kids are suddenly getting their just desserts, when people actually start getting hurt by the shenanigans, it falls to him save the day and to stop the former shock rocker from continuing to deliver his deadly shocks from beyond the grave (seriously, this dude is made of electricity or something…).

From the effects that would do a Ghostbusters movie proud to the be-spandexed butt shaking, there's not much about this movie that isn't cringe worthy. Thankfully that's all part of Trick or Treat's cool 80s charm. Of course it doesn't hurt that with the volume cranked up, the electric, surround sound rock experience is able to distract from the way Tony Fields seems to enjoy flashing the camera his nose hairs whilst making with the crazy eyes, and from the general tragedy that is the 80s high school cliché.

As mentioned, there's also the fun cameos by Mr Simmons and Osbourne to tantalise the audience (the latter playing the role of an angered preacher man, dismayed at the pornographic lyrics of rock music), a particularly amusing take on the obligatory boobie shot, and the all-round fun of watching snotty teens meet their end at the hands of a deadly, phallic guitar.
The picture quality of Trick or Treat isn't too great (though it's not unbearably awful either). There are moments when big honking artefacts do show up, as well as a few flashes of the "cigarette burn" effect, but these are few and far between and not that entirely distracting – it could be much worse. There's also an unfortunate grainy appearance, complete with little white dots, that comes and goes throughout the feature… but I figure if you're sitting far enough away and have your appropriately coiffed hair flying in your face as you enjoy the music, you should be good. This is a 1.33:1 presentation.
Woooh, yeah! Trick or Treat rightly gets the 5.1 Surround Sound treatment, and listening to this thing loud is a must.
Extra Features
The extra's here are… not so much. You get a handful of Umbrella trailers for The Stepfather, Shallow Grave, Red Rock West and Bouncer. But you don't get a poke in the eye from an overtly penis-like musical instrument, so that's got to count for something, right?
The Verdict
Trick or Treat isn't bloody, it isn't really scary and it definitely isn't winning anybody any Oscars. What it is is an amusing, over-the-top 80s rock-fest that deserves to be watched at full volume and possibly with an air guitar in hand. Just remember to bring your love for the music, and for the so-bad-its-good era of 80s horror, otherwise this might not be such an enjoyable experience. A crappy DVD release and iffy visual quality drag this from a possible 4 to a 3.
Movie Score
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