Back to School - Trick or Treat

Trick or treat

As the children of the world start to drip back into their education after the longest summer break in history, we at /G-f delve into our school related film favourites. For Back to School weekend, Romeo Kennedy heads for Hallowe'en early with Trick or Treat...

Heavy metal added something very special to my schooldays. It was a journey that started from the first cassette tape* and continued long after school had finished. It was about the music and the nonconformity of so-called social norms. To step outside the mainstream and listen to things that were talking directly to you, and that connected with your feelings. So, for me, the match of High School, Heavy Metal and Horror is a perfect one and ticks all the boxes.

Trick or Treat was made in 1986 (the year I was born) and was directed by Charles Martin Smith who starred in American Graffiti, The Untouchables and many more. The film starred Marc Price, Lisa Orgolini, Tony Fields and Doug Savant, as well as two very cool cameos from Kiss bassist Gene Simmons and Black Sabbath lead singer and all round rock legend, Ozzy Osbourne.

It focuses on Eddie Weinbauer, a high school loner, and his adoration for the heavy metal superstar Sammi Curr (played by Tony Fields). Sammi is a former pupil of the same school that Eddie attends and is banned from making a return to the school to perform at the Halloween Dance.

Sammi has also died in a mysterious hotel fire. Eddie is given a copy of Curr’s latest and unreleased album by the DJ Nuke (played by Gene Simmons) and that is when all the trouble begins. After giving the record a spin, it becomes apparent that is something wrong with it, it keeps skipping and the lyrics sound a little eerie. Rock fans all know about the backmasking and Eddie is no stranger to the apparent hidden messages that used to be contained within some of the biggest albums of yesteryear. He plays the record backwards and his hero speaks to him beyond the grave. Sammi instructs Eddie to get his own back on the bullies who plague his daily school life. The instructions of revenge start off with fairly innocent pranks but soon become rather sinister. Eddie decides that enough is enough and tries to sever ties with his dead hero but an electrical surge gives Sammi all the energy he needs to carry out his own murderous desires.

Being a metal fan myself, this film is one of my favourites. Eddie is the archetypal eighties metal fan and underdog who becomes a hero in the face of all the controversy that surrounded heavy music during the eighties (bringing back dead rockstars aside). The horrors of subliminal messages within metal was a very real fear for some parents during the eighties, so much so that some teenage deaths were thought to be the result of these demonic evil messages hidden within the devil’s music. At times the film is very tongue-in-cheek, for example Ozzy Osbourne plays a televangelist preaching about the evils of the heavy music. The casting of the late Tony Fields as Sammi Curr was a particularly good choice. When Sammi is reincarnated and performs at the dance, his performance is absolutely fantastic and could make you believe that this guy was actually a frontman for one of the bands at the time.

But for me, it is a horror movie that resonates with metal and horror fans in a similar way that This Is Spinal Tap resonated with musicians (in the case of the latter, a more of a comedic resonation). Like I previously mentioned, I was born when the film came out and saw it when I was around sixteen. But it has always stuck with me for being a fun movie that in some ways pretty much depicts who I was at high school, sans carrying out the instructions of dead rockstars, because High school is hard enough without dead rockstars coming back to life and causing havoc.

* Younger readers may need to google that, and Uncle Pisky promises it is nothing to do with the harvesting of souls in order to play music.

Image - IMDb