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Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

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Today’s feature, in the spirit of the Halloween season, is 1986’s Trick or Treat.

The screenplay for Trick or Treat is credited to producer Michael S. Murphey, Joel Soisson (Dracula 2000, Piranha 3DD, Mimic 2), and Rhett Topham (976-EVIL), with uncredited work done by Glen Morgan (Final Destination) and James Wong (The X-Files).

The director on Trick or Treat was character actor Charles Martin Smith, who has appeared in such movies as The Untouchables and Starman. His other directing credits have included Air Bud, Dolphin Tale, and Dolphin Tale 2.

The cinematographer for the movie was Robert Elswit, who has shot such acclaimed films as Nightcrawler, There Will Be Blood,  and The Town, as well as less acclaimed flicks like Gigli and 8MM.

The editor for Trick or Treat was Jane Jaffe, who was an assistant editor on films like Pretty In Pink, Terms of Endearment, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.

trickortreat2The music for the movie was provided by Christopher Young, who has provided scores to such movies as Swordfish, Sinister, Priest, The Core, and Hellraiser over his career.

Trick or Treat was produced by co-writers Michael S. Murphey (From Dusk Till Dawn 2, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2) and Joel Soisson (Maniac Cop 3, The Prophecy, Dracula 2000), along with Scott White (Gotham).

The makeup effects on Trick or Treat were provided by Alec Gillis (Mortal Kombat, Wolf, Leviathan), Chris Goehe (Howard the Duck, Signs, Dead Heat), Everett Burrell (Castle Freak, Re-Animator, DeepStar Six, Troll), Rudolph Eavy III (Cyborg, Weekend at Bernie’s), David Kindlon (Leprechaun, DeepStar Six, Hell Comes To Frogtown, From Beyond), Daniel Marc (House II), Ralph Miller III (Dolls), Brian Penikas (Tank Girl, Leviathan), and Kevin Yagher (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, Child’s Play).

The special effects crew on Trick or Treat was made up of Thomas Love (Midnight Run), Steve Wolke (Swordfish, Lawnmower Man 2), Larry Roberts (House of Yes, Masters of the Universe), Randy Kenan (The Abyss, Muppets from Space), and Jeff Frink (Dead Heat, Maximum Overdrive).

trickortreat6The visual effects team for the movie included Doug Beswick (Aliens, Evil Dead II, Blade), David S. Williams Jr. (Blood Diamond, xXx, Tremors, SpaceCamp), Dick Ramirez (Dune, SpaceCamp), Richard Malzahn (Suburban Commando, Leviathan, Kull The Conqueror), and Jeff Burks (The Abyss, Predator).

The cast of Trick or Treat is made up of Marc Price (Family Ties), Tony Fields (Santa Barbara), Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives), Elaine Joyce (Motel Hell), Gene Simmons (Never Too Young To Die, Runaway), and Ozzy Osbourne (The Osbournes).

The story of Trick or Treat centers around a outcast high schooler with a deep love for metal music, whose musical idol is killed in an apparent hotel fire. After the rocker’s death, his last recording winds up in the hands of his biggest fan. However, this final release proves to be more than a standard album, and the young fan starts having strange visions and dreams after listening to it.

The songs used for the movie were provided by the band “Fastway,” which was made up of Dave King of Flogging Molly and Eddie Clarke of Motorhead.

Glen Morgan, a now-prolific Hollywood producer of such movies as Final Destination, Black Christmas, and Willard, appears in his only on-screen acting role in this movie.

Trick or Treat was produced by Dino De Laurentiis’s company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which also released such films as Blue Velvet, Maximum Overdrive, Manhunter, Evil Dead II, and Pumpkinhead.

Trick or Treat now has a bit of a cult following based on its outlandish plot, soundtrack, and rock star casting. This is in spite of the film not receiving a new video release in a number of years, reportedly due to rights issues with the music included in the soundtrack. Currently, it hols a 5.7 rating on IMDb, along with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 63% from aggregated audience reviews.

trickortreat4Trick or Treat capitalizes on the widespread fear of the rebellious influence of rock and roll on the youth of the United States, which was the loathed genre of choice of middle class parents prior to the rise of rap and hip hop as the new musical social pariahs. The inclusion of Gene Simmons and Ozzie Osbourne in the cast was clearly designed as a nod to their own penchants for controversy, not unlike the fictional rock star at the center of the film. Both men, on top of releasing controversial rock music, were known for their wild concert exhibitions, and were thus the ire of many religious zealots and puritanical social critics.

I don’t think that this movie was ever meant to be taken particularly seriously as a horror flick. The film makes it pretty clear that the idea of rock music inspiring violence and misbehavior is ridiculous, and the plot seems to mock the ludicrousness of the concept. Basically, the film takes the position that the only way that music could cause teens to commit crimes is if they were possessed by evil ghosts of metal gods. That said, the comedic elements aren’t explicitly laid out, and there aren’t any jokes to speak of, so it defies being labeled a comedy. I can’t help but wonder if this could have been a really hilarious horror/comedy movie if they had been willing to lean into the comedic elements a little harder. Alas, the movie sits in a no-man’s-land between being funny and scary, and never really finds a good balance.

The effects work in the movie is surprisingly interesting and strange, and goes in directions that I did not at all expect or predict going into it. I thought that this would be a pretty simple possession deal, but there are some proper monstrous shenanigans in this flick, which is certainly a memorable aspect to the movie. I also think Wes Craven took some notes from this movie when he was working on Shocker, as there are a few notable similarities with that flick, particularly in regards to the villain.

Overall, Trick or Treat is a case where the concept was way better on paper than the execution wound up being on screen, which is a real shame. It is still worth seeing for the novelty value and a few highlight moments, particularly for anyone looking for a 1980s metal nostalgia trip. But, because it isn’t particularly easy to get a hold of, it may take more effort than it is worth to dig up a copy. That said, it isn’t impossible to find online if you do some searching for it.

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Bargain Bin(ge): The Music Box (Pensacola, FL)

Pensacola, FL is a top-notch beach-going destination for the southeastern United States, and is perhaps the gem of the Florida panhandle. Not only that, but it is also home to the acrobatic airplane team The Blue Angels! Unfortunately for the pasty and nerdy of us, that is about all there is to the city.

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This is pretty much all of Pensacola in one image. This is even from the city website.

Lucky for you fellow film geeks, there is some DVD hunting to be had in Pensacola! Specifically, there is a little record shop called The Music Box with a significant selection of eclectic films (interestingly set aside in a glass-cased room), as well as a ton of soundtracks on vinyl. I honestly lost count of how many rare flicks and IMDb Bottom 100 entries this place had copies of, because most of them were things I personally already own. That said, I still came out with a nice little haul to round out my collection.

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The DVD chamber

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Bad Taste

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For those who don’t know, Peter Jackson’s origins are a bit…strange. Bad Taste was his first feature back in New Zealand, and is true low-budget comedy gore in its purest form. It isn’t particularly easy to get a hold of at this point, so I was happy to find a copy here. If you haven’t seen it, it is an interesting forerunner for Dead Alive and Meet The Feebles, which both improve on various elements introduced in Bad Taste. Also, Jackson cuts a rubber alien in half with a chainsaw at one point, which is awesome.

Trick or Treat

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At this point, I think more people are familiar with the similarly titled 2007 cult classic Trick ‘r Treat than this earlier flick from the 1980s. However, Trick or Treat certainly has its following, particularly among classic rock and metal fans. As you might deduce from the box art, Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons both pop up in small roles, and have been used significantly to try to sell the movie in recent years. I’m curious to give it a watch, because the plot reminds me a bit of the lawsuit against Judas Priest that popped up a few years later, alleging that subliminal messages were put into their albums encouraging harmful behavior. Otherwise, I have heard mixed things in regards to its entertainment value, but I’m more than willing to give it a shot. Look forward to a review of this flick in October.

Showdown in Little Tokyo

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Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee is one hell of a duo. This is another one of those action movies that is clearly up my alley, but has managed to somehow evade me over the years. I’m looking forward to finally catching it, as I assume it is as magical and wonderful as it appears to be.

Warriors of the Wasteland

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Enzo Castellari is a name that deserves a lot more attention in the bad movie world. He is one of the masters of the Italian knock-off, with works like The Shark Hunter, The Last Shark, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and Inglorious Bastards to his credit. Warriors of the Wasteland (aka The New Barbarians) is yet another one of his b-movies with a dedicated following, focusing on the aesthetic of post-apocalyptic flicks like Mad Max. I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up next to other Mad Max knockoffs like Hell Comes to Frogtown, which starred the late Roddy Piper. The involvement of Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) here has me plenty excited to check this thing out as well.

Teen Wolf / Teen Wolf Too

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Teen Wolf is considered a classic of the 1980s, and I imagine that everyone has at least heard of the defining werewolf teen sports comedy of the age (though Full Moon High had its moments). The popular re-imagining on MTV has kept the idea in the public consciousness at the very least, even for those who don’t recall Michael J. Fox’s hairy basketball career.  Teen Wolf Too, on the other hand, goes among the rankings of the most maligned and unnecessary sequels in movie history. Jason Bateman (who was at the time just a recognizable child actor) has succeeded in his career as an adult in spite of the hiccup, but it still looms over him like a black cloud for people who are aware of the film.

As I mentioned earlier, The Music Box also had an interesting selection of soundtracks. Of course, I picked up a couple of notables that I couldn’t turn down:

Xanadu

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Xanadu is a deeply polarizing movie, with die-hard fans and staunch detractors all carrying passionate opinions on its value. Whether you consider it a cult classic or a bad movie of the lowest order, nothing defined this flick quite like its soundtrack. Here, I managed to dig up a vinyl copy of the ELO-helmed album, which I’m happy to have in my collection. Again, this is a movie that I feel will make for an inevitable blog post, as it was a winner/loser in the very first Golden Raspberry awards, and made a significant impact on the public consciousness. Not only that, but it also released on one of the most infamous double bills of all time with the unarguably wretched pseudo-biopic of The Village People, Can’t Stop The Music.

Mannequin

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Not too long ago, I had a request to cover Mannequin, one of Cannon Group’s many odd contributions to the 1980s. If there is anything that has stuck with the public consciousness about this flick, it is the hit song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship. As opposed to being a full album, this one is just a single, but I figured it was still certainly worth picking up. I’m thinking it will go nicely on one of my walls, even if it never comes anywhere near my record player.