Welcome to Shocktober 2012 - the theme is Trick and Treat, and that’s eactly what you’re going to get this year.
My selection of films are all linked with Halloween itself, either as a plot point or by association. Most are, naturally enough horror movies - but there are some others on their way as well. Some... dare I say it...? Animated features might creep in among the blood, the fear the suspense and the chaos.
But to kick the festival off this year, I’ve chosen an often overlooked film from 1986. Ladies and gentlemen, boils and ghouls, I give you...
Trick or Treat
"You should be loyal to your heroes... they can turn on you" - Sammi Curr
It’s a fusion of rock music and horror - always a good mix, but it might not play well to today’s audience though it was pretty cool to us back in the day. The problem is, technology has moved on so much over the past 26 year - this film is little more than a historical oddity in 2012.
Ah - remember long playing records? Those big black discs we used to play at 33 rpm on our stereos? Those of us of a certain age will certainly have fond memories of those pre CD days. (Okay, they used to scratch and jump and were pretty fragile but in the cosy glow of nostalgia, vinyl was the preferred medium. Far better than tape cassettes which would get tangled up in a player for no apparent reason.) Remember the gimmick records they used to put out with messages on the recorded backwards, so you’d have to literally spin the record backwards on your turntable to her them? You’d be simultaneously ruining not only your record, but your stereo needle as well. I wore almost wore out a copy of ELO’s "Secret Messages" album and considerably shortened the life of my diamond head stylus listening to backwards recorded "welcome to the show" phrase over and over. Then there were the urban legends that some of those messages were Satanic in nature.
You just don’t get that with CDs or MP3s or downloads.
But that’s the premise of this movie. An outrageous heavy metal rock star named Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) has made a pact with the devil at the point of his death in a motel room fire. Curr stands over six feet tall, has long bushy hair, eyeliner, wears leather trousers and boots - every much the kind of glam rock "look" that was around before grunge, screamo, death metal, nu metal, thrash metal and all sorts of other sub genres.
There is an incantation that will bring him back, and it’s in the form of a backwards message on his last album, of which there is only one original acetate ( a pre-release copy of the record).
Eddie "Ragman" Weinbauer (Marc Price) is a loner and a headbanger. He doesn’t fit in at school. His clothes aren’t right, his hair isn’t right, he doesn’t listen to the same music as everybody else. He’s very much an outsider and should the film ever be remade, he’d be a Goth or an Emo. Through the kindness of his good friend, rock DJ "Nuke" (Gene Simmons) Eddie comes into possession of the acetate, and starts to succumb to the suggestive power of Sammi Curr through his music and the hidden messages which only he can hear.
At first, the messages suggest ways of getting even with the bullies who have been tormenting Eddie at school, and it’s all light hearted, but eventually, Curr becomes more powerful starts to manifest himself, appearing through any device with a speaker and grows stronger as he has access to increasing amounts of voltage. Half his face is burned, making him look like a cross between someone out of Motley Crue and Freddy Krueger. Coincidentally, Curr’s make up was designed by Kevin Yagher who also designed Freddy.
Nuke has made a tape of Curr’s last album, and is scheduled to play it on the radio at the stroke of midnight on Halloween. This will make Curr unstoppable. He’s already crashed the local high school’s Halloween dance causing death and mayhem by appearing out of the resident band’s speakers and firing bolts of energy through his guitar.
Realising that Curr can be short circuited by water (he’s temporarily neutralised when his hand accidentally touches the water in a toilet bowl) It’s to Eddie to save the day and stop him.
The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and despite the hardware making the film irrelevant to today’s music loving youth, it’s a lot of fun to watch, playing in to the dearly held notion that rock music is Satanic and will inevitably warp the minds of its young followers. (Hell, I’ve been listening to Alice Cooper and KISS since the seventies and I’m still as sane and normal as they come, in my humble opinion.) As well as Gene Simmons’ small role as "Nuke" there’s also a cameo appearance by Ozzy Osboune as a TV evangelist preaching against the evils of rock music.
Being that this was a 1986 release, the time when Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees dominated the horror landscape with their long running franchises, I’ve often wondered if Sammi Curr was similarly being primed as a recurring horror villain, to be featured in recurring series of films. Whether that was the plan or not, it wasn’t to be - Trick or Treat remained sequel free.
However, rock and horror are an irresistible mix and I’m going to stay with it for the next Shocktober movie around mid week. Stand by for The Crow !
Copyright © 2010 - 2012 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.