October 26, 1984, nineteen year old metal head John McCollum
placed a 22-caliber handgun to his head and blew his brains
out. He had been listening to Ozzy Osbourne.
A year later, two days before Christmas, high school dropouts
Raymond Belknap and James Vance made a suicide pact after listening
to Judas Priest. They made their way to a nearby churchyard
and then each shot themselves with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Both Ozzy and Priest’s lead singer and lyricist, Rob Halford,
were brought to trial. For Osbourne, it seemed middle America
had waged a war against him, after not just McCollum, but kids
in California, Georgia and New Jersey all took their lives after
supposedly listening to Ozzy’s controversial track Suicide
Solution, taken from his Blizzard of Oz
album in 1980. Many Christian groups attacked Osbourne, accusing
him as being a Satanist and dealing in black magic. This from
a man who once said, “How can I raise the Devil? I
can’t even raise myself out of bed in the mornings!”
Osbourne’s trial, and the Priest case, was eventually
dismissed by the courts, stating that there was no connection
between the artists’ songs and the spate of teenage suicides.
through the controversy, the 1980s were the commercial nadir
for heavy metal, where big hair and tight pants were the order
of the day. Bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella and
Twisted Sister dominated the airwaves. There were still a few
bands forging a path in hard core, serious metal, a la Metallica
and White Zombie, but for the most part it was spandex and socks
down your pants time.
And it was during those heady days of cock rock and suicide
controversy that a small horror film appeared, fusing together
metal, the occult, Halloween, and murder and mayhem!
This little gem was called Trick or Treat.
Released in 1986, it tells the story of Eddie (Marc Price, who
played Skippy in TV’s Family Ties), a
high school metalhead who is just batnuts about his rock n’
roll idol, Sammi Curr. Eddie has metal in his veins man, as
proven by a bedroom that is a shrine to all that is hard rock.
Posters, studs, skulls and album covers adorn his room; most
of which are dedicated to his aforementioned hero.
Sammi Curr is Eddie’s one salvation in a world that doesn’t
understand him, where the girl he adores won’t look at
him twice, where jocks strip him naked and lock him in the girl’s
gym (you’ve gotta love 80s jocks), and where his clothes
and musical tastes bring about ridicule and humiliation on a
daily basis (you see Emos, its all been done before).
Just when our hero thinks things can’t get any worse,
Sammi Curr goes and snuffs it in a hotel fire. Devastated, Eddie
seeks consolation from local radio DJ, Nuke (played by Kiss’
legendary bass player Gene Simmons), who hands our bereaved
protagonist a very rare demo of Curr’s last ever recordings.
But, of course, dark forces are at work.
After being humiliated yet again at a pool party, Eddie does
what any pissed-off teenager would do: he goes home and plays
his new record backwards. And this where the trouble starts.
twisted soul of Sammi Curr has possessed the record, enabling
him to coax young Eddie into becoming his puppet and do his
evil bidding, simply by speaking to him from the grooves of
Eddie has another encounter with the jocks - where he gets called
a ‘wussy fucking weaktit’ - great insult. But by
now Sammi has become somewhat of a handful, and has unleashed
his wraith onto the High School kids. Just listening to one
of his albums on a Walkman (you young go-getters may have read
about them once!?) can be bad news, as one of the bully’s
girlfriends finds out when she does just that, and ends up stripped
naked and attacked by a giant rubber demon. I get the feeling
that Sammi wasn’t very appreciative of his many fans.
Our demonic rock god then reincarnates himself, seemingly just
to bump off jocks and play one last gig. Well why not, if he’s
Eddie meanwhile tries to right his wrong by getting his friend
Roger to steal and destroy a possessed cassette tape (which
I think holds Sammi’s soul. I’m not too sure; the
plot had run away from me by then). But of course, Roger listens
to the tape, thus summoning Curr, who tells him to play it at
midnight on Halloween or suffer a horrible death. Why? Who cares?
(a little aside – the character of Roger was played by
Glen Morgan, who went onto write for The X Files
and the Final Destination movies, not to mention
direct the remake of Black Christmas.) So Eddie
and his gang try and stop Sammi at the Halloween Dance, but
not before Sammi gets to play on last gig.
Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge,
which came out the year before Trick or Treat, did have a similar
storyline, but I don’t think that one was nearly as much
fun (apart from that scene where Krueger possesses the family
budgerigar, causing it to explode! Classic horror!).
got to say, the character of Sammi Curr isn’t the greatest
of horror villains, but he is fun. Or should that be, hilarious?
He was originally to be played by the brilliantly named Blackie
Lawless from 80s rockers W.A.S.P, until the role eventually
went to Tony Fields, a professional dancer who’d appeared
in Richard Attenborough’s A Chorus Line.
Fields tragically died of AIDS in the mid-90s.
All this, and I’ve still not mentioned Ozzy Osbourne in
the oh-so-ironic role of a religious crusader who bangs on about
how rock n’ roll is the Devil’s music and it is
the perversion of America’s kids. His role was filmed
around the time of his court cases. But what did Ozzy care?
This is the man who pissed on the Alamo.
Trick or Treat marked the directorial debut of actor Charles
Martin Smith, an actor most famous for his role as George Lucas’
alter-ego Terry the Toad in American Graffiti,
and his turn in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables.
Curiously he never made another horror film, although he did
direct pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It is a shame he never made more horror though.
Yes, Trick or Treat is a product of its time,
riddled with clichés and lackluster scares - but it is
great fun, and has some cool little set-pieces and interesting
So seek it out, if you dare! Get some beers in and watch it
this coming Halloween!