Trick or Treat
Title: Trick or Treat
Year Of Release: 1986
Running Time: 97 Minutes
DVD Released By: Platinum Disc Corporation
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith
Writing Credits: Rhet Topham (story), Michael S. Murphey, Joel Soisson, Rhet Topham (screenplay) Glen Morgan and James Wong (uncredited)
Starring: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Doug Savant, Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne
1. What are you afraid of? It's only rock and roll...
2. If you think Sammi Curr looks like he's been to hell and back... it's because he has!
3. The ultimate comeback!
Review Date: 6.3.08 (updated 1.1.10)
Shadow's Title: "American Idol - Undead Edition"
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Sammi Curr – A heavy metal rocker that dies in a hotel fire, his cult of personality and legacy as a music legend seemingly set. Then along comes dipshit, hero-worshipping Eddie, who raises him from the dead by playing his last album backwards. Achieved through sheer accident, no less.
Eddie Weinbauer – Eddie is a loser. Plain and simple. Sure, he gets picked on, taunted and teased for being different from the so called “normal” kids, but that is not why he is a loser (just unlucky). No, he actually buys into the whole empowerment through anti-social music shtick. Moron.
Tim Hainey – Just like real life, every cinematic high school has a royal prick. You know the guy – he’s clean cut, a star athlete, has a gorgeous girlfriend, is the leader of the cool kids…and thinks that he is god’s gift to the entire school. Well, in this film, Tim Hainey here fills that role. Prick.
Roger Mockus – Eddie’s nerdy best friend. Hell, I think he was Eddie’s only friend of the same age. A true nerd, he's more concerned with academic pursuits than with chasing girls and trying to get laid. Roger also helps out Eddie on occasion, but kinda drops the ball when it really mattered.
Leslie Graham – The girl Eddie has a hard on for. She's one of the cool kids, which means she's out of his league, especially since he is viewed as something of a creepy loser by almost everyone. She befriends Eddie and the two of them develop a friendship and then a burgeoning romance.
Genie Wooster – Tim’s girlfriend, and I must say, the two make the perfect couple. An annoying bitch, she's the type that looks down on everyone with an air of distaste. She gets unwanted lovin' from a creature that is best described as a cross between Gene Simmons and Gollum.
Nuke – Speaking of Gene Simmons, he plays Nuke, the DJ at the local radio station. He has an extremely small part, and is hardly even worth mentioning, but it’s a movie about heavy metal music, so ya gotta mention him. Despite his presence, he still only has the second longest tongue in the movie.
Reverend Aaron Gilstrom – It’s Ozzy Osbourne! He has a very small part, appearing only twice and only for about a minute each time, but since it’s Ozzy, I had to include him. Plus, this self-righteous ass meets a fate that I’m sure many people would like to see befall such overbearing types.
Mrs. Sylvia Cavell - This is another one of the film’s annoying moral crusaders. This irritating old bat is the head of the Lakeridge High School PTA. Are you telling me that she has kids that are still in school? Are they complete and utter morons who are in their 40’s and 50’s?
The Demon - This nasty minion of hell (not to be confused with the staff at the local Department of Motor vehicles or the wonderful folks at Walmart) is summoned to torment Genie. This is accomplished by humping her into a coma. His tongue is the longest in film, surpassing Gene Simmons'.
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After all the usual crap – listing the production companies that made this film and what not, we get the cool looking title card, which in my mind looks just like the stylized text you’d see on an album cover for some eighties metal band. The credits begin to unfold on a black background and the music seems to be building to something. As this is occurring, a voiceover cuts in, reciting lines from the third scene of the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe, which is about a man who sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge (and a 2000 presidential election win, I might sarcastically add), and which is based on an old German legend of a man named Faust who makes such a deal. The only problem with this little voiceover is that while the male voice is appropriately spooky and menacing, the lines being recited seem paraphrased in spots while other lines from that scene are dropped all together.
I know that most of you out there won’t give a crap, but I hate it when filmmakers get stuff like this wrong! Why couldn’t they have used the correct lines? Were they just lazy? Perhaps, given the fact that the target audience for this film was teenagers – and the long-haired, heavy metal listening, pot-smoking, mouth-breathing types at that – maybe they thought they had better phrase things in a manner that such kids would more readily understand. After all, too many thees, thous or haths may make their heads explode. As a member of the target demographic at that time, I now wonder whether I should feel insulted for possibly being talked down to, or, given my experience over the last twenty odd years, agree whole heartedly that teens are morons (well, many of them). I’ve come to realize that I was certainly a clueless, ignorant moron at that age that thought he knew more than he really did. These days I’d like to think that I am just clueless.
Anyway, we’re here for a movie right? I’m going off on these tangents earlier and earlier with each film review. This one has not even been on for a minute and I’m already bitching about something that has nothing to do with the movie. Then again, we old folks just love to bitch. HA!
So the music builds, the voiceover ends and…the hard rock music kicks in with a slow, but steady beat while we see the image of a poster. A poster of rocker Sammi Curr. The camera pulls back and we see that the poster adorns some rafters in a large room that seems to have been converted out of an attic. The place is filled with all sorts of things rock and roll related: books, magazines, more posters (Lizzy Borden, Anthrax, Ozzy, Raven, Twisted Sister) cassette tapes, studded leather belts and other fashion accessories, a Judas Priest calendar, a stereo with huge speakers and a shitload of those ancient things that we old folks called vinyl records. There are a few other things we see as the camera moves around the room to denote that this place is occupied by a teenaged boy. Hell, it looks a lot like my own room did back in the 80’s…except I didn’t live in an attic…or was allowed to put rock posters on the walls…or was allowed to own studded leather gloves, belts and gauntlets. But I’m sure the smells were very similar (unwashed clothes and BO).
After setting the stage for the type of youth that calls this mess his sanctuary, we see the youth in question: Eddie Weinbauer, who is stretched out on his bed and is writing a letter to his idol, rock and roll legend Sammi Curr. We learn soon enough what Eddie is writing, because one of those letter-writing-voiceovers kicks in. In his letter, Eddie bemoans the fact that Sammi’s Halloween concert was cancelled. He says that life is still a case of “us versus them” and agrees with Sammi that “Rock’s chosen warriors will rule the apocalypse.” HAHAHA! Yeah, right kid. Dream on. Leave it to the disenfranchised youth, who feel misunderstood and persecuted by the entire world, to grasp onto to such a feeble notion.
As Eddie’s letter-voiceover continues, we now see scenes of him at school, with the rock music still playing in the background. He talks about airheads and braindeads being everywhere (especially in Hollywood and politics, kid) and says that they have nothing that he needs. I would just like to wonder who he considers an airhead and a braindead? He corrects his statement by adding that “Leslie” is something he’d like to have. With that we see the girl in question coming down the hall, waving at somebody. Naturally, Eddie thinks she is waving at him and waves back, only to realize a few seconds later when she passes him by without so much as second (or first) glance, that she was waving at someone else. He just stands there by his locker like a supreme loser, mortified at his mistake.
Ok, before we go any further, you’ve probably realized by now that I am taking a very harsh stance towards Eddie. Why is that? It’s twofold really. First of all, in my twenty years since being one, I have come to really, really, really dislike teenagers. Probably because I was one once and I know what they’re thinking. People in their late 30’s and early 40’s most likely were annoyed by me back in those days, so I am just continuing the circle of annoyance. This dislike of teens is just a further extension of my loathing for kids in general. Teens are just kids that have learned to stop shitting in their pants and have discovered their genitals can be used for more than just peeing. They still do not know half as much as they like to think they do. Most (notice I said most) of us older folks have come to realize how much we don’t know and how much we never will know.
As for my second reason for being tough on Eddie…well, I was Eddie back in high school. I didn’t have the long hair or quite the social problems he will experience in this film, but in my eyes I was as misunderstood and downtrodden as any pariah. While no bullies were beating me up, giving me wedgies and stealing my milk money; and I did have a large circle of friends, I felt like a loner much of the time and turned to rock music as a way to express my angst. I bought into the whole empowerment by Satan-inspired music shtick. What a loser! I’ve since realized what a moron I was and see now that any problems I had back then were of my own creation and it was up to me to surmount them, not to go crying to Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Dee Snider or even Rob Halford for moral support. So in essence, in Eddie I see the kid I was once was, and am sickened by my own failures. Ok, this moment of psychoanalysis BS is now over.
So now we see Eddie in the school cafeteria, sitting with some other dweeb named Roger. Eddie goes to take a sip from his carton of milk, only to have the contents spill all over his shirt. Closer examination of the milk reveals a carefully placed hole in the carton, which allowed the liquid to escape prematurely. Closer examination of this scene reveals differences between the close-up up of Eddie’s hand and the wide shot with both Eddie and Roger...like a mysterious brown bag and Twinkie than appear out of nowhere. Eddie looks at his friend, anger all over his face, then turns around and stares daggers at a group of kids at another table. Naturally, this bunch is comprised of the good-looking, popular and “cool” kids, led by Tim Hainey, who raises his own beverage in salute to Eddie, thereby admitting responsibility for the punctured milk carton gag.
Next up, Eddie is walking down the hallway when Tim and his pals approach from the opposite direction. Tim reaches out and pushes his hand through Eddie’s hair in a condescending greeting. Once he has moved on, we see that Eddie’s hair is standing straight up, the result of Tim’s movements. I will admit at this point to never in my life having seen hair that will retain such a shape after such little effort. If I ran my hand through my own hair for ten straight minutes, it still would not stand at attention like Eddie’s is doing. I don’t know anyone who has hair that will do that. So either Tim’s hand was filled with mousse (or something even worse) or Eddie’s hair had not been washed in about a week. I hope it was the former, cuz if it was a case of the latter, poor Tim might wanna go scrub his hand really good before he gets some major cooties.
After the little confrontation in the halls, we see Eddie in the shower, presumably after his gym class. He walks into the locker room to find Tim and his buds going through his stuff. He tries to grab a cassette tape from one of them, but the gang now begin to tease him by playing keep away, tossing it back and forth, just out of his reach. Eventually, the tape gets thrown through the door that leads out into the gym. Eddie dives for it and as he passes through the door, Tim pulls away the towel that was his only covering.
Eddie finds himself lying buck naked on the gym floor. An entire class of girls is nearby, playing volleyball. He spins and tries to get back into the locker room, but the door won’t open. All the girls are laughing at his plight (and his big white ass, no doubt), but as he struggles with the door, Genie runs for a one of those old instant cameras, which just happened to be laying around. She aims and snaps a picture of poor Eddie. Even though his back is to them, Eddie can see the flash from the bulb and knows what has happened. He sinks to the ground in defeat. Everyone continues to laugh, except for Leslie, who notices how this whole thing has really hurt Eddie.
Now we get Eddie’s letter-writing voiceover again and we return to him in his room. He scribbles some predictable stuff in his letter about suicide and death. What teen hasn’t thought about that stuff at least once? At one point he looks up and the film shows us a poster of Curr, implying that Eddie is looking up at it. The problem is, the poster in question is hung on the wall directly behind him. There is no way he could turn his head ninety degrees and see it. He writes/talks some more and we learn that this Sammi Curr guy once went to the same high school that Eddie attends, then he closes his letter to his idol by signing it as Ragman. Then he tears the paper out of his binder and seals it in an envelope that is addressed to Sammi Curr, care of Waste City Records.
Now Eddie comes down to the laundry room, a basket of dirty clothes in his hands. He also has his Walkman (for you youngins, that was what we called portable music devices before they were iPods and mp3 players) strapped to his side and is rocking out to his music. As he goes about his laundry duties, a small TV sitting on a countertop has some type of news program playing. The program just happens to be airing a story about Sammi Curr. We learn that the musician has taken heat for his lyrics and onstage theatrics. Indeed! As the newscaster talks, we see Sammi onstage with a snake. First he fondles it then licks and kisses it. Then, borrowing a page from Ozzy Osbourne’s book, he bites the poor animal in half and begins smearing his chest with the creature’s blood. We also learn that the Halloween concert that was cancelled and which Eddie mentioned earlier, had been scheduled to take place at the high school.
Eddie continues his washing, oblivious to what is on the television. On the news show, the host has brought on a guest, a Mrs. Sylvia Cavell, who is the President of the Lakeridge High PTA and who was instrumental in getting Sammi Curr’s concert cancelled. Predictably enough, she is an old white lady who looks about as cool and hip as a rash on the balls. She babbles on about Rock Music and her experience in teaching and dealing with rebellious youths. Next, the news lady introduces footage of Sammi Curr at a senate inquiry into rock pornography.
The footage shows some stuffy old white dudes asking Sammi if he would let his kids listen to rock and grow up with such influences, if he had kids. Long about now, Eddie finally notices the TV and begins to watch. Sammi begins going on about how morality cannot be legislated (TRUE), and if people try to do so “we will bring you down! (WRONG)!” Just who is we? Musicians in general or heavy metal musicians only? And just how are they going to bring the establishment down? By refusing to buy spandex and eyeliner, thereby crashing the economy? What, are Vince Neil and Don Dokken going to take up arms and lead a revolution? Will they recruit hordes of anti-establishment, moron headbangers and then train them in the ways of war before assaulting Washington D.C. itself? Man, what a kickass movie that would be! Well, right up until the government calls in the military and blows all their asses to hell.
Anyway, Eddie smiles and nods in agreement with the moronic crap his idol is babbling. Now here comes the hammer blow: the news lady recaps the top story, that Sammi Curr was the victim of a hotel fire and is dead at the age of thirty-eight. I guess he won’t be reading Eddie’s letter after all! Naturally, a loser like Eddie is in utter shock. Well, that’s what you get for investing so much of your own self worth in someone else. Should people be admired? Sure! I admire lots of folks, but I do not have any heroes or idols. I don't believe in heroes. People should have faith and pride in themselves, and not have to look up to others to boost their self worth. Alas, Eddie has not reached that point yet, so he goes to his room and expresses his anger and despair by flopping onto the bed, then gyrating around on the sheets, tossing a pillow through the air for good measure.
Realizing that all he has done is just throw a little girlie hissy fit, he decides his wig out had better be something more grand, so he leaps to his feet and begins trashing his room. He races around tearing down every rock poster he has and crumples them up. When he gets to the last poster still up – one of Sammi Curr himself (the same one the film opened up on) – he pauses. He just stares at it and slowly backs away. Ah, I remember a similar outburst on my part many years ago, wherein I trashed my room something fierce, tearing down everything on the walls, ripping up books and magazines and over turning entire pieces of furniture. The place truly looked like a hurricane had swept through the immediate area. Alas, my little temper tantrum was all over a girl and my self-perceived worthlessness. Thank god those days are over.
The next day dawns and we get a shot of the town in the early morning darkness. We then see a microphone and a mouth that speaks into it, telling the sleepyheads who are listening to wake up. This is local disc jerky “Nuke” played by none other than Gene Simmons. As he gets a song playing he sees Eddie walking into the building and calls out to him, referring to him as Ragman. Eddie enters the studio and the two discuss the passing of Sammi Curr. Nuke offers the usual line about living fast and dying young, adding that at least Sammi left some great songs. Stuff that really spoke to people. Eddie thinks that he still does, and whether Sammi be dead or alive, it just doesn’t matter.
Nuke tries to talk sense into Eddie (good freakin’ luck), telling him that Sammi’s rock warrior persona was all bullshit. He adds that Eddie didn’t know Sammi and that Sammi was a deeply angry person (been there done that), even back in high school. Eddie mumbles something about Sammi standing up for what he believed in and “they nailed him for it.” Who are they? The government? The establishment? The AARP? Hell, if there is any organization that would have some loud, foul-mouthed rock star whacked, it’s the American Association of Retired Persons. Although I think the organization needs a new name, one that sounds more like what they represent. “AARP” sounds like the noise a seal would make. How about the Federated Association of Retired Troublemakers? That certainly seems more in tune with the members.
Anyway, Eddie is mumbling his crap, out to make Sammi Curr look like some sort of rock and roll martyr. He talks about how “they” tried to fuck Sammi over everywhere he went and that he (Eddie) knows what that is like. Nuke tries again to say that Sammi brought it all upon himself, but Eddie doesn’t look convinced. It’s long about now that Nuke realizes that the record he is broadcasting is stuck, so he bangs his fist, which gets the record unstuck. Then he bitches about how crappy the radio station is, with terrible equipment that hardly ever works.
Nuke now reaches over to another record player and removes a twelve-inch vinyl record. He presents it to Eddie, telling him that it contains the last recordings ever made by Sammi Curr. Eddie takes the record with reverence, as if it was the Holy Grail or something. Nuke reveals that the plan is to play it at midnight on Halloween – an idea that originated with Sammi Curr himself. Eddie notes that the record is unusually heavy. Nuke explains that this is because the record is a studio demo and is in fact the only copy in the entire world. He takes back the record from Eddie – who doesn’t seem thrilled at having to let it go – and slips the vinyl in a plain white sleeve. Then he presents it to Eddie, who is blown away by the gift. He reminds Nuke that he has to play it on Halloween, but the disc jerky says that he already has it on tape. Nuke thinks that Sammi would have wanted Eddie to have it. Mumbling about how cool it is, Eddie heads off to school.
Let's hit rewind for a second. If this is the only copy in the entire world of Sammi Curr's last album, then how did the lowly DJ in some hole in the wall radio station get it? This town isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis. You’d think some big name radio personality with a nationally syndicated show would have had a better shot at being given this record than Nuke. Does Nuke have connections in the music business? Did he call in a favor with a label big shot? Perhaps this is only because Sammi Curr was from this town and the playing the record at midnight on Halloween (which was Sammi’s idea) would have had to be broadcast from a local station? If so, then that might be the reason Nuke was in possession of it.
Speaking of that last Sammi Curr record, it’s obvious that Nuke was given this thing. Not loaned, but given. Why else would he decide to give it to Eddie? If he had to return it to the record label, then he would not have been in the position to give it away. My question is this: what kind of idiots run that label? The last known recording from one of your most high profile acts, and you just give way the only known copy? Think of the millions they could have made by printing it and selling it! The publicity from Curr’s death would have guaranteed sales! Yet they give away the only copy in existence? Idiots! I bet they were the same ones who later signed Insane Clown Posse.
At school, Eddie is standing at his locker when his pal Roger shows up, asking if Eddie is ok, since he missed trigonometry class. Eddie admits to being fine, despite the whole “Sammi Curr thing.” Roger then heads off, probably late for his daily ducking into the toilet by the football team. Eddie closes his locker, but a voice calls to him. It’s Leslie, the girl of his dreams. She says she has something for him. She roots around in her purse and then presents him with a cassette tape and a photo. The tape is the one he was trying to get back in the locker room and the photo is the one taken of his white, pasty butt cheeks in the gym. Leslie apologizes for the behavior of her friends and then asks him if he is going to the pool party that night. It’s apparent he has no idea what she is talking about, so she invites him to drop by around eight-thirty, which is right after the pool closes. With that she smiles and walks to her next class.
Next up we see Eddie in his room, stuffing a pair of swimming trunks into a backpack. He checks his reflection briefly in the glass of his hamster’s container and then is out the door. He gets in his beat up, hoopedy car, which sputters and smokes more that the one in Uncle Buck. The license plate even says Ragman. How quaint.
We move now to “The Pool.” I am unsure whether this is a public facility or one at the high school. Whatever the case may be, there are loads of kids here, swimming, jumping in the water, dancing and whatnot to the loud music. Eddie enters via a back door, which has been left propped open by an empty liquor bottle. He walks around, smiling at the antics of all the other kids (some of the girls are even topless) and is no doubt glad he is at such a cool, happening shindig. You and I both know that his elation will not last for long. Sure as shit, he comes upon Tim and his pals. Tim looks at him and asks what he is doing there. When Eddie replies with a “nothing,” Tim then suggests that he get the “fuck out of here.”
Eddie then says that he is meeting someone there. Tim asks who that may be, but Eddie doesn’t answer immediately, opting instead to look around some, probably hoping to find Leslie. Not having gotten a reply to his question, Tim asks Eddie if has ears. Before he can do or say much else, Genie (I always thought at times she looked a little like Lori Loughlin) tells Tim to relax and then approaches Eddie. She asks him if it gets tough maintaining this level of creepiness. Creepiness? Creepiness? She thinks Eddie is creepy? The poor thing has no idea what true creepiness is. One of the other guys chimes in and says, “get lost, metalhead.” Genie berates Eddie some more for not being normal.
Tim has finally had enough and decides that it is time Eddie left. He and one of his idiot friends grabs Eddie, while a third places a round lifting weight in his backpack. Then SPLASH! Eddie falls into the pool and quite expectedly, sinks straight to the bottom, just like a Greek cruise ship. Eddie struggles at the bottom of the pool, but cannot free himself from the weighted backpack. He looks up and can see the collection of true losers and morons staring down at him. Seriously, what the hell were they thinking? As harsh as I am with Eddie, Tim and his pals are true and utter morons. You weigh a guy down, push him in deep water and then just stand back and watch? What do you tell the judge at your murder trial? “Oops, your honor, I thought he was a better swimmer?” Morons!
A new figure appears and after a quick look in the pool, dives in. It’s Leslie! She swims down and helps Eddie to the surface, where the collection of losers taunt Eddie some more. Eddie has this look on his face that is a cross between embarrassment and blinding rage (how well I know that feeling). The next thing we know, he is stomping out of the pool building. Leslie chases after him and tries to explain that she got there late, but Eddie doesn’t want to hear it. Eddie spazzes out now, yelling and screaming. He swears up and down that he is going to nail all “those bastards.” He doesn’t know how and he doesn’t know when, but he will get them back for what they have done to him. With that he turns and stomps off. Well, since he is soaking wet, it is more like he sloshes and squishes off. Leslie does not look too happy either.
Back at home, Eddie removes the Sammi Curr demo record from its sleeve and places it on his turntable. Then he takes a seat and listens to the music, his face contorted in anger. Apparently that final recording by Sammi Curr is quite the piece of crap, cuz Eddie is instantly asleep. How boring does music have to be to put you to sleep? In his dreams, Eddie seems to be navigating a burning building. A strange voice is muttering something incomprehensible (no, it's not Ozzy yet). In the dream, he comes upon a room in flames. In a burning circle on the floor is Sammi Curr, his mouth moving and the odd words issuing forth. Behind him, dancing and swaying, are two people on fire! Let me tell you, if I was on fire, I would be doing more than just swaying. I would be up and moving around so fast, I’d win every reality dance competition from So You Think You Can Dance to Step Up And Dance.
Eddie now awakens from his strange dream and realizes that the Sammi Curr record he put on (and fell asleep to) is producing those weird vocals, which are clearly spoken words being played in reverse. Yes, it’s the old backwards masking trick, the bane of mothers and preachers everywhere in the 80’s, who all thought that any and every record by someone with long hair concealed hidden messages that exhorted kids to kill their parents, do drugs and vote democrat before slitting their own throats. Eddie now gets up, approaches the record player and using his hand, stops the record from moving. Then slowly, he begins turning it in the opposite direction. The “backwards” words can now be heard forward: “Let the big fish hook themselves. You’re the bait. The bait is you.” After hearing the message, Eddie lets the record return to normal and then stands there and looks thoughtful.
The next day (or some subsequent day) we see Eddie at school, positioning a mop and bucket in one of the hallways. Then he carefully positions a chair (the type on rollers) near a specific door. The next thing we know, he is in the cafeteria, sitting and eating with his pal Roger. WTF? What happened to the chair and mop? He just left that stuff there and fully expects it to be there later? Either this school has the worst janitor ever, or Eddie has somehow bribed whoever it is that performs those duties.
So as they eat, Leslie approaches. She wants to talk about last night (so this is the next day), but Eddie thinks that all she did was set him up so that Tim and his gang could torment him. Eddie then jumps to his feet and quickly walks over to the table where Tim and his pals are seated. Tim greets him as “Aquaman.” Eddie then grabs Tim's plate of food and throws it at him, covering him with cheap spaghetti. Without missing a beat, Eddie then jumps up on the table and takes off running, Tim and his friends in hot pursuit. The music is cranked up some to compliment the chase scene.
Eddie hauls ass with the others not far behind. Some students moving tables in the hall hinder their pursuit, but not for long. Eddie runs up some stairs to a second level where he rounds a corner and low and behold, there is that chair he set up earlier. He runs past it, pushing it as he goes. The others crash it into. Then Eddie overturns the mop and bucket. The suddenly slick floor causes one kid to fall on his ass and slide through a door and down some stairs. Well, it was more like his momentum carried him off the landing and out over the stairs. We don’t see him land, but it had to hurt. Oddly enough when you watch the scene closely, the kid actually leaps over the overturned bucket and manages to completely avoid the spilled water. Yet, a split second later, there he is flying through the air.
The chase continues outside, then back in and through the library, where the pursued and the pursuers slow to a fast walk for the sake of decorum. Then it’s down another hallway and into the room where the band is practicing. As they race through here, several innocent bystanders with instruments in their hands are knocked on their asses while the teacher just looks on in confusion. By the time Eddie races through a door into a new room, only Tim and two other guys are still chasing him. Seeing where he has fled, Tim removes a fire extinguisher from the wall, approaches the door and then yelling, “Die Sucker!” he flings open the door and sprays the room with the extinguisher. Alas, all he has managed to hit are a bunch of teachers gathered at a table. He just attacked the teacher’s lounge! HA! Staring in shock at what he just did, Tim doesn’t see Eddie emerge from a door down the hall and then quietly exit the area.
Later at Eddie’s house, Eddie is playing the Sammi Curr record for Roger, so that he can hear the backwards message. Roger doesn’t think much of it, as Sammi Curr had done similar things on songs like Fuck With Fire, Burning Metal and Torture’s Too Kind. Eddie tries to explain that the message was meant for him, but Roger isn’t buying it, telling him to buy some fortune cookies to help plan out the rest of his week. Eddie expounds further, saying how by doing exactly what the message said to do, he nailed Tim and the others for the first time ever. Roger still isn’t a believer, feeling that Eddie has just fallen for a scam invented by record company executives so that kids like him will ruin their records playing them backwards and will be forced to buy more. Roger then says that he has to jam and leaves, but not before warning Eddie that his “cage” is beginning to “shake loose.”
Now alone, Eddie puts down his copy of Hit Parader magazine (man, I used to be addicted to that thing back in 85/86) and under the watchful gaze of his Sammi Curr poster, pops a cassette into his stereo and then plays the record again, obviously hoping to record the message to tape. This time however, there are no backwards messages to be heard. Just as he is beginning to think that he is nuts, the sound of a backwards voice breaks the silence. Eddie pushes the record in reverse just like before and the word “Ragman” can be heard, followed by the kind of laughter than would even make Renfield cringe.
Speaking aloud, Eddie confirms that he is Ragman and then asks if the message from the previous day had been meant for him. Pushing the record backwards, he gets his answer: “All part of the plan.” Next Eddie asks what the plan may be. Without any help from him, the record stops playing and then begins spinning in reverse. A new message comes across: “Nail them all, remember? Revenge! Remember?” Eddie enthusiastically agrees with this notion, but the disembodied voice warns him to be quiet.
Now comes a knock on his door. Oh, crap! It’s his mom! She asks who is in there, apparently having heard him talking to someone. What will she say when she learns he has been communicating with a dead guy through a record player? Maybe it’s best if he didn’t tell her that and just claimed to be playing with himself like any other teen male would be doing. He calls out that it is just him in there. She tells him to get to bed, as it is “after eleven o’clock.” At night? No way! Every time they show Eddie, there is light shining through his bedroom windows. For it to be after eleven at night, this would have to be northern Alaska or something. Muttering something about her leaving him alone, Eddie turns his attention back to the possessed Sammi Curr record. He asks again about “The Plan.” After a few second's delay (What…is there a time delay between the earthly realm and the hereafter?) he gets another response: “Metal machines. Six Six Crush.” The message repeats and then all is silent.
Suddenly, we’re looking at a door with the number sixty-six on it. It’s a door down at the high school and it leads to the metal shop department. We see Eddie enter and look around a bit. Then he takes a seat at a desk and from a pocket, produces a small Walkman-like tape player along with a cassette. He dons his earphones and plays the tape, then removes a Twinkie from his lunch bag and prepares to eat it. Before he can even get the damn thing unwrapped, Tim and one his pals enter the room. Both are wearing neckties to enhance their button-up collar shirts. You know…I was in high school at the exact time this movie was made (86’ was my Junior year and one of the best years of my life), but I do not recall a single male student at my school ever wearing a tie to school unless it was for some type of occasion that required costumes.
Anyway, Tim doesn’t look very happy. Understandable, given the trouble that befell him after the last encounter he had with Eddie. He walks up, turns off Eddie’s tape player and informs him that he and his pal have spent the entire morning on janitorial detail. Then he pushes over the desk, sending Eddie into the floor. “Did the headbanger bang his head?” he asks sarcastically. Then he wonders how Eddie can listen to “this shit” and proceeds to kick Eddie’s tape player across the room. The blow to the Walkman-like device must have literally kick started it, as we now hear music coming from it. Grabbing Eddie by the shirt, Tim sends him sprawling across the floor in a move that would make a dwarf bowler proud. Eddie promptly collides with a mop and bucket.
As Tim advances on him, his friend stays by the door to ensure that they are not interrupted. Tim removes a wrench from a tool rack on the wall. He throws it at Eddie, following it up with a second one. He tells Eddie that he won’t get away with “the shit” he pulled the day before and then reaches for a third tool. However, as he reaches for it, the lathe between him and the wall suddenly springs to life all on its own. Tim’s tie gets caught on the spindle and he is pulled down so that his head is pressed against the machine…and perfectly lined up with the tailstock, which is slowing moving towards his exposed noggin. Tim screams for the machine to be turned off, but his friend just stands there and gawks, frozen by indecision. Meanwhile Eddie picks himself up off the floor and casually puts his hand on the electrical switch. He watches as Tim screams and struggles, but waits until the tailstock is dam near millimeters from his eyeball before flipping the switch and cutting the power. Tim’s pal helps free him and Tim warns Eddie that it’s not over yet before the two flee the room. Once they are gone, Eddie looks down at his tape player, which is playing that backwards Sammi Curr song. The words, “six six crush” can be heard over and over.
Eddie is apparently feeling jubilant after Tim’s close call, as we now see his car come flying out of the high school parking lot, screech into a turn and then go careening down the road…all accompanied by a joyous “Woo Hoo!” If I didn’t know better, I’d think Eddie just opened an account at Washington Mutual. Eddie pops his tape into the cassette deck and listens to the backwards Sammi Curr song as he barrels down the road, running one red light after another.
At Eddie’s house, his mom walks into his room with a laundry basket in her arms. I guess she is there to collect any dirty clothes her son may have laying around. If he is like most teen males, then any soiled garments in the room will positively stink. Hell, the dirt and odors may have combined to produce some strange bacterial life form by this time. Apparently, she is there to put away clean clothes as well, as she pulls some from her laundry basket and puts them in a dresser drawer. All the time she is doing this, she is looking at Eddie’s stuff and making faces at the more unusual things he has in his room.
From the drawer, she extracts a studded leather wristband and looks at it warily. Then she takes a closer look at some of the photos of musicians her son has hanging around. After that she starts looking through his record collection. She grabs a handful of LP’s, and Mercyful Fate’s debut album, Melissa is on the top. Yet when we see a close up a split second later, it's Impaler’s Rise of the Mutants. Under that is Exciter’s Unveiling the Wicked, then Megadeth’s Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good! And yes, I had (and still own) all those albums, with the exception of the Impaler record. Of special note here is an album seen on the shelf. A black cover with bright red lettering and a prominent upside down cross, it is none other that the debut album from Possessed, Seven Churches. I know, I know…most of you are going, “Who?” You see, Possessed was the name of the local speed/death metal band at my high school. Of the four members, two attended the school at the same time I did, while the others had graduated a year or two before I started. They had scored a recording contract with Combat Records and would open for bands like Venom, Slayer and Exodus in addition to headlining at a local dive known then as Ruthie’s Inn (long since gone). Thus, every head banging teen in the local audience knew who they were, and since the theater was packed when I saw this film, many people spotted the album from the local band up on the big screen and let out a holler. It was a supremely cool moment for us heavy metal geeks.
As she’s perusing the records, her arm accidentally bumps the power button on the stereo and it flares to life, blasting the air with the discordant sounds of a heavy metal guitar. She jumps back, knocks a lamp over and then slaps her hands over her ears to protect herself from the auditory assault. She begins madly playing with the various controls, trying to get the noise to cease, but it does no good. The racket continues to rend the air with what can only be described as generic guitar noise. Finally, the music stops. I don’t know if she managed to hit the power button or some supernatural force decided to spare Eddie’s stereo from being pounded into scrap. She turns around and is startled by Eddie standing in the doorway. She explains that she was just putting his clothes away. He just says thank you.
Later, Eddie lights some candles and then makes a tape copy of the Sammi Curr record. Why he needed to light candles to do this is beyond me. He sets everything up, begins playing the album in reverse then speeds it all up so it only takes a few seconds to record one entire side of the album to tape. There is just one problem with this scene. We see the record speed up and spin super fast, with the needle moving inward, but if the record was playing in reverse, there is no way that could have happened. The grooves in the record’s vinyl rotate in a clockwise direction which causes the needle to move from the outer edge of the record to the center. If the record were spinning in reverse, the needle would not do this...it would simply move in the opposite direction and fall off the outer edge.
A new day dawns and we see Lakeridge High School. The voice of Nuke down at the radio station can be heard, talking about Sammi Curr and how he was banned from playing his old school. Nuke mentions that Sammi will be the subject of a special salute the following night at midnight. I guess that means that today is October 30th. We see Tim head to his locker and find something taped to it. It is a note that reads, “Tim – a peace offering. – Eddie.” Wrapped in the note is the tape that Eddie made the night before. Tim pockets the tape then crumples up the note.
Elsewhere, Roger the nerd is standing at the bottom of a ladder and looking up at the cheerleader atop it, who is hanging a banner in the hall. Roger is taking the opportunity to look up her skirt at her ass and the tight panties she is wearing. Been there done that, only…I remember getting slapped and chased and called a perv the last time I tried that with a high school cheerleader. Roger here is experiencing no negative consequences from his peeping tom routine. Then again, considering that the last time for me was just last week…
Of course I am kidding.
Eddie comes waltzing along, dressed like he has just stepped out of an old episode of Heavy Metal Mania. Roger wants to know where he was, as he missed the midterms that morning. Eddie says that he will make them up, but Roger says that he can’t. He has automatically failed. Eddie thinks it is no big deal. Roger cautions him to drop his whole vendetta against Tim and reminds him of his own personal interpretation of Darwin’s survival of the fittest: in order to survive, you have to suck up to the fittest. Leslie comes along now and asks if Eddie is all right, having heard about his encounters with Tim. He downplays it all and acts rather dismissive before walking off.
Twilight has now settled across the land. The local lover’s lane seems to be situated out near some lake. We see a lone car parked under a tree. Inside, Tim and Genie are necking up a storm in the back seat. In the midst of all the teen passion, Tim announces that he has “to go” and then gets out of the car. He walks a few feet away and it is clear that where he has to go is to go pee. Left alone in the car, Genie spots a Walkman and quickly dons the earphones. She then finds the unmarked tape given to Tim by Eddie and decides to give it a listen. She settles back into the seat with her eyes closed. Meanwhile, Tim is still stumbling around trying to find the perfect spot to take a leak.
As the music plays in the Walkman, we see the earphones light up with a strange spectral light. Then greenish tendrils of misty energy begin snaking their way from the earphones and down Genie’s body. As they slowly swirl around her, an invisible force begins unbuttoning her dress. She just sits there, eyes closed, writhing around like she was in the throes of passion. He dress is soon gone and with a little help from Genie, the supernatural forces at work soon have her bra removed (I remember the Woo Hoo! that went up in the theater when we saw those bare boobies).
The green, mist-like energy then coalesces over her crotch into the shape of a hand. We then see her face and note that her whole body is moving rhythmically, like she was having sex. I guess the ghostly hand is giving her the finger…literally. Alas, sex (or even digital penetration) is never a good idea in horror films, so when she makes the mistake of opening her eyes, there in the car with her is a grotesque, gargoyle-like monster with a tongue even longer than that of costar Gene Simmons. Attentive viewers will note that this creature resembles a tattoo that adorns Sammi Curr’s left upper chest.
Genie lets out a shriek, which gets Tim’s attention. I swear, that guy is taking the longest wizz, ever. He comes running back to the car, which is rocking up and down like there was some backseat boom-boom going on. He opens the door and sees Genie passed out in the back, nearly naked and with the earphones still on her head. He tries to rouse her, but gets no response. Then, when he pulls the earphones away, half the skin on her ear comes with it, as if it had been melted. Checking to see what she had been listening to, and no doubt wondering what had the power to make her scream and then melt her ears (William Hung?), Tim sees that the tape in question is the one given to him by Eddie.
Over at the Weinbauer house, Eddie’s mom is lying in the bedroom floor and doing exercises. She even has on the goofy leg warmers that every broad in the 80’s wore at one time or another. On the TV is another news show talking about Rock Pornography. Their guest today is the Reverend Aaron Gilstrom, a moral crusader. The host of the show mentions how “those rockers” have quite the sense of humor, but Gilstrom just thinks that they are all sick and want others to be as sick as they are. When we see the Reverend…why he’s played by none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne! Talk about casting against type.
The TV host holds up an album entitled Do It Like A Dog and asks Gilstrom if it is about animal behavior. In response, the Reverend reads some lyrics from the album in question.
to drive my long steel missile
Well, I gotta say, even I wrote better lyrics that that for my crappy garage band back in the 80’s. That was terrible! Missile and channel don’t even rhyme! Anyway, Gilstrom is horrified by the lyrics. To him they refer to nothing more than a sexual act. Well, duh! It certainly isn’t about structural engineering.
Meanwhile, Eddie is sitting alone his room with a few candles lit, even though there is plenty of light pouring in through the windows. A voice from outside yells, “Weinbauer!” in an angry tone. It’s Tim, and after a few more shouts, Eddie emerges from the front door to stand on the porch. Somehow, in the time it took him to descend the stairs and pass through the front door, the sun has set and it is now dark! Tim wants to know what Eddie did to “her.” Presumably the female he is referring to is Genie. Eddie wants to know what he means and Tim shouts something about Genie being in the hospital.
Tim takes a couple of steps toward Eddie, as if he is fully intending to kick his ass five ways from Sunday, but Eddie just raises his hand in a “stop” motion. As he does this, the flames from the two jack-o-lanterns on either side of him suddenly flare higher. This stops Tim in his tracks, who now realizes that there is some funky shit going on. He accuses Eddie of doing something to that tape and being into some “weird fuckin’ shit.” With that he expresses his desire for Eddie to stay away from him then hops into his car (haphazardly and lazily parked half on the lawn) and drives away. Eddie just watches him go, an evil look etched on his features. Well, I guess it was supposed to look evil. In my book it looked more like constipation. When his mother sticks her head out and asks who had dropped by, Eddie just says, “a friend.”
Returning to his room, Eddie puts on the Sammi Curr record (backwards of course) and asks what happened to Genie. No answer. He asks again, only now he pushes the record by hand. At first there is no response, but then a spooky laughter can be heard. “Cheap thrills” comes the voice of the deceased Sammi Curr. Eddie admits to being worried and wants to know what they did to her. The only answer he gets are his own words coming back to bite him on the ass: “Nail them all.”
Eddie now decides that maybe the time has come to end this relationship. Dead Sammi just says, “No wimps. No false metal.” Eddie states that it is all over but then Sammi says Leslie’s name. Eddie wants to know what she has to do with anything. Sammi says that she set Eddie up that night at the pool. Eddie doesn’t believe that and wants nothing to happen to her. He goes to remove the record from the player, but when his hands touch the vinyl, he gets zapped by spectral energy. Sammi’s evil laughter fills the room.
Eddie’s mom now knocks on the door. Sammi says for Eddie to let her in, so they can nail her, too. Ok, that just sounded icky and creepy. His mom says that Tim Hainey’s dad is on the phone and would like to talk to him. Eddie says that he is busy and cannot talk at the moment, then asks his mom to go away…which is probably the same thing he says when she catches him playing with himself. About now, the ghost of Sammi Curr uses the stereo’s graphic equalizer to somehow alter his disembodied voice so that it sounds just like Eddie. Then, pretending to be Eddie, he calls for his mom to enter the room. Eddie and Sammi now get into a shouting contest, the latter calling for his mom to enter while the former tells her to stay out.
Eventually, Eddie solves the problem by exiting his room and talking to his mom in the hallway. She notices how much he has been sweating and how warm he feels. Again, symptoms that could just as easily be applied to spanking the monkey as it can be for communing with dead rock stars. Eddie claims to just be tired and ushers his mom off to fetch some aspirin and some soup. After she departs, he enters his room again. Making his way to the stereo, he reaches down to unplug it from the wall. He grasps the power cord and ZAP…he gets thrown across the room. Watch closely as the stunt double is thrown across the room and take note of where he is about to land, then look and see where actor Marc Price winds up an instant later – two different spots!
His room then seems to be the epicenter for an extremely localized earthquake. Everything starts shaking and then the stereo lights up and begins playing the record in the turntable. A Pepsi can is overturned and begins spilling cola over the record, but doesn’t seem to affect the sound quality. Nearby, one of the large speakers is bulging, as if there was someone inside of it that was attempting to bust out. Then just as suddenly as it all began, everything stops. Eddie finds himself sitting alone in a quiet, dark room.
POW! The silence is broken by the sudden appearance of a figure in the room, who manifests in a flash of crackling energy. The figure stands there momentarily, back to Eddie and with arms outstretched. Arcs of electrical energy dance around the figure, jumping back and forth between hands and shooting through the air. The figure turns to look at Eddie. It’s Sammi Curr, back from the dead and ready to tour! We see that half of his face is burnt, Harvey Dent style. Sammi walks around Eddie’s room, taking in the sights. As he moves, various gizmos flare back to life, as if his mere presence was somehow powering them back up. First the alarm clock flicks back on, then the TV. We see that the news show with Reverend Aaron Gilstrom is still on and that the good Reverend is still bitching about the evils of rock music and wants to know where the wholesome music has gone.
The TV host asks the Reverend if he has anything else he’d like to say in conclusion. Waving his finger, Gilstrom says that “these evil people have just got to be stopped.” I am going to presume he is referring to heavy metal musicians and not the people backing the New Kids on the Block reunion. Upon hearing the Reverend’s proclamation, Sammi runs his fingers over the TV screen, which causes the image to blur. It also causes Gilstrom to scream and grab his face, as if he was have his balls massaged by Freddy Krueger himself. Then reception is lost and the TV turns off.
Sammi walks up to Eddie and tells him that he should be loyal to his heroes, as such people can turn on him. A knock on the door heralds the return of Eddie’s mom. He quickly looks at the door and then back again, but in that split second Sammi has vanished. All that can be seen is an arc of energy shooting back into one of the stereo speakers. As his mother continues to knock, Eddie grabs a baseball and proceeds to do to his stereo what Tanya Harding had done to Nancy Kerrigan's knee. After reducing it to junk, his mom enters and wants to know what he has done to it. His explanation? “I wanted a new one.” Is that all it takes? Pardon me while I go crash my car into a tree…
Halloween morning comes and Eddie is calling his pal Roger. He is in desperate need of Roger’s help, wanting him to go fetch that tape he gave to Tim. He says he cannot leave the house because his mom is freaking out. He tells Roger to destroy the tape if he locates it and if he is unable to find it, to call him back so he can figure out what to do.
Next we see Roger over at the Hainey house, trying to break into Tim’s car. He has a wire shoved down into the door and is trying to trigger the unlocking mechanism. He does this several times before seeing that the door is already unlocked. Opening the door, he retrieves the tape from the Walkman then closes the door and removes the wire. Next, he is seen peddling like mad on his bike. He seems to have outfitted it with some type of small engine and once he is sufficiently far from the Hainey house, he fires it up and zooms away.
Roger returns to his house where he examines the tape. Curiosity gets the better of him and he puts it in the family stereo. Just as he is about to press the play button, the phone rings. It’s just Eddie, wondering if he managed to find and destroy the tape. Roger answers yes to both questions, even though the second one is a lie. Eddie thanks him for saving his life, saying there was something unbelievable concerning the tape. Roger then says he has to go and the two hang up. Once off the phone, Roger wastes no time in playing the tape.
He lets it play while he goes into the kitchen to prepare something with the blender (something that has peanut butter and chocolate syrup as key components). As he stands there, a flash can be seen from the other room. A surge of electrical energy jump-starts the blender, sending stuff all over the counter for an instant. Another flash from the living room accompanied the power surge, so now Roger heads back in to investigate. The room seems filled with smoke and the stereo has stopped playing the tape, but other than that, everything seems just peachy. Roger turns back towards the kitchen…
…and is startled by the burned figure of Sammi Curr, who is standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. Roger backs away as far as he can, but Sammi slowly approaches, the lights flickering on and off as he comes. The TV then clicks on and runs through several channels before stopping on a newscast. The newswoman is reporting how Reverend Gilstrom apparently died from a massive hemorrhage of the brain, leading to speculation that he may have been the victim of foul play. Foul play? I’ll say! A dead rocker electrically ripped his brain to shreds! If that ain’t foul play I don’t know what is.
Sammi looks at Roger and tells him to play his tape tonight…or die. Then Sammi walks over to the TV where that annoying old broad, Mrs. Sylvia Cavell, the President of the Lakeridge High PTA, is on. She is blathering on about something when Sammi literally reaches into the TV through the screen and grabs her by the throat. He pulls and removes her from the TV but only a dried, desiccated corpse emerges, which he promptly drops on the floor. It falls to pieces and I have to wonder how Roger is going to clean up that mess. Having seen all this, Roger agrees to play the tape. He falls backwards over an ottoman as Sammi yells “Tonight!” When he picks himself up, the dead rocker has vanished…though the moldy remains of Mrs. Cavell are still on the floor. Better get that vacuum out…and quick.
When Sammi reaches into the TV, grabs Mrs. Sylvia Cavell, pulls her straight out of the screen and drops her suddenly desiccated corpse of Roger’s floor, :what did the people in the TV studio see when Cavell was killed? Did a hand just appear out of thin air, grab her by the throat and then pull her into nothingness? Did she just vanish? What happened?
A quick cutaway shows Eddie in the shower. He has a small transistor radio playing and we hear Nuke the DJ promoting the night’s upcoming events. Then it’s back to Roger who is trying to vacuum up the remains of Mrs. Cavell. HAHAHAHA! Then we jump back again to the Weinbauer house, where a dressed Eddie has come down the stairs to answer the door. Outside on the porch is an older, balding dork dressed like Rambo, only…only the fool does not have the physique for it. He mumbles something stupid and Eddie calls to his mom that “Stan” has arrived. His mom now enters the room, looking like Madonna after having survived an explosion in a pink paint factory. Stan must be his mom’s boyfriend. Yuck. Making sure that her son will be ok by himself and that he’ll be sure to pass out candy to the little pukes who come knocking, she and Stanbo head out to wherever they have planned to go.
We now head over to the high school, where the Halloween dance is in full swing. The decorations are up, the band’s gear is set up on stage and teens are dressed in a variety of costumes: Romans, Pilgrims, French Maids, Soldiers, Nurses, Ballerinas, Clowns, Sheiks and even Nerds. Oh, wait! That last one is just Roger in his normal attire. He enters the auditorium (or gym, wherever the dance is being held) and makes his way to a boom box on a table that is pounding out the tunes. As he tries to slip the Sammi Curr tape in it, a voice asks him if he is playing some Judas Priest.
The voice belongs to Leslie, who is dressed as a…you know, I have no idea what she is supposed to be. Now that she is there, Roger puts the tape away and tries to act cool. She asks where Eddie is, but he says that he has not seen him. She tells him to have a good time and then walks off. With Leslie now gone, Roger returns to his attempt at swapping tapes.
At home, Eddie is fiddling with the radio in the living room, but having trouble finding something to listen to. He settles on some soft music that sounds like a slow number from a 1940’s big band (like Glen Miller for example) and then flops on the couch with a newspaper. Only a second or two goes by until he mutters that death is preferable to listening to this music. So he gets back up to change the dial, but at that instant both the phone and doorbell ring. He gets the door first, to find a young girl trick or treating. He tells her to come back in a while then closes the door in her face. Then he races for the phone.
It happens to be Leslie on the phone, who asks if he is coming to the party at the high school. He says that he is staying home, telling her that he is sick. Idiot. The girl you’ve been drooling over for who knows how long has finally taken an interest in you and you pretend to be sick? I say again, idiot! While she is talking, Eddie can hear that backwards Sammi Curr song playing in the background. When he asks her about it, she just says that it is some tape that Roger is playing. Without a second’s hesitation, Eddie hangs up the phone and is out the front door. Waiting for him is that trick or treater, so he takes the entire bowl of candy situated by the front door and up ends it into her bag. She looks on in awe and in a Keanu Reeves moment, just says, “Whoa!”
Eddie jumps in his car, but as he tries to get his key in the ignition, the radio comes to life and the voice of Sammi Curr can be heard, asking him if he is going to a party. The ghostly force then takes control of the car, starting it up and driving it down the street in such a haphazard manner, that the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland seems like an exercise in safe driving techniques. The car runs some poor bastard on a bike off the road and into a creek, but he should be lucky he didn’t get run over.
The car races through town, bouncing off one thing and then another, little by little transforming the already crappy car into a rolling piece of scrap metal. At one point it enters a yard where big rig trucks and trailers are parked, and slamming into reverse, flies under one trailer, which pretty much removes the entire top part of the car. Eddie only saves himself by flattening himself over the front seat. Then the car zooms by some barrels, which spontaneously ignite when the car goes by, sending up a plume of flame and smoke. If these barrels were so damn dangerous - they apparently contained some type of flammable substance – then they should not be stored right out in the open like that!
The car is now partly on fire as if races down the mostly empty streets. Eddie dives into the floor and disconnects the gas pedal. As the car begins to slowly coast to a stop, he then applies the brakes to help further the process along. Good thing he did that, cuz once the car stops and he opens the door to look, he finds that the vehicle has stopped on a drawbridge. The middle section of the bridge is raised up ahead, so Eddie’s car has come to rest at the very edge where the road ends. Of course, in cases like these, there are flashing lights and traffic arms that lower in order to prevent people from reaching the edge, but we’ll just assume that the ghost of Sammi Curr made sure those things were on the fritz (well, the traffic arm was down as the car cruised under it, unhindered due to it now missing its top half). At least, let's hope that is the case, because if such precautions failed all on their own, some city, county or state agency is in for one hell of a lawsuit. Eddie slowly extricates himself and hauls ass on foot towards the high school.
At the high school, a teacher is trying to introduce the band that is about to play. The boom box is still playing the backwards Sammi Curr song, making it hard for him to talk and be heard, so he has a student stop the tape and remove it. Wasting little more time, he introduces the band, called The Kickers, who run out on stage amidst some weak pyrotechnics (a couple of puffs of smoke) to take up their instruments. The lead guitarist/singer seems to be experiencing some feedback on his guitar, so he runs over to his amp and starts trying to adjust the settings. As he does this, a hand emerges from the amp, coursing with electrical energy. It grabs the poor guy by the face and he vanishes in a good sized puff of smoke. His guitar is sent flying high in the air, where it tumbles end over end. It then comes back down and is caught by…Sammi Curr.
Yes, Sammi Curr has emerged from the amp, back from the dead and ready to rock! The other guys in the band look on in puzzlement, as if they are not quite sure what is going on. Is that really Sammi Curr? Where did their band leader go? Is this part of the show we did not know about? Will I ever be able to quit my day job at Burger King? You can see these questions written all over their faces. Sammi takes center stage and throws his arms up in the air. When he does this, the lights go down but a pair of spotlights comes up directly on him. Then, looking at the crowd, he begins banging his fist against his thigh over and over.
The beat is eventually taken up by the audience, which begins to clap in conjunction. Then the drummer gets into the act and starts pounding his tom-toms. Suddenly, everything just converges and the entire band breaks into a song. I guess the band has decided that they don’t need their original singer after all and don’t care that he went up in a poof of smoke. Sammi starts singing…well, it’s more like lip-synching…badly. The crowd starts dancing and Sammi drops his guitar so he can jump around stage with the microphone. One girl yells out that he is better than the real Sammi, unaware that this is the real Sammi, only returned from beyond the lands of the living. As the song goes on, we get numerous shots of Sammi hopping around on stage as well as reaction shots from people in the crowd: Roger looking scared, Tim looking bored and Leslie getting up and walking out.
The big guitar solo now arrives (all metal songs from that era had them and it is the one thing that I sorely miss about a lot of modern hard rock/metal music) and Sammi grabs his axe and starts laying down the licks. His fingers and the fretboard seem to crackle with electricity and suddenly a blast of energy shoots from the end of the guitar, hitting some kid in the front of the crowd dressed like a grim reaper. The kid is thrown backwards and all that hits the floor are some tattered and smoldering remnants of clothing. Some other kids have the sense to get the hell out at this point, but most just keep rockin’ out. Several more blasts from the guitar of death follow and more teens are hit and zapped into oblivion. Finally, everyone realizes that the fun is over and the crowd runs for the door. The teacher even gets zapped, leaving behind nothing but the cheap mask he had been wearing.
After several more shots of kids getting blasted, Sammi turns on the band. Naturally, in an ode to Spinal Tap, it is the poor drummer who draws his attention first. ZAP! The drummer goes up in smoke. Take a moment to note that it is an obvious stand in for Sammi Curr actor Tony Fields that is doing the actual movements, though the producers were careful to have the same tattoo adorning each actors’ left shoulder blade. Once the drummer has gone up in smoke, the bassist and other guitarist don’t waste a second in running off stage and diving for cover. Meanwhile, Sammi continues with his guitar solo of death. Finally, in a huge puff of smoke, he vanishes, guitar and all. The crowd of people is at the gym’s entrance, trying to get out, but the double doors are shut quite securely. Seconds later Sammi reappears on top of the basketball hoop backboard. He grabs a rope and swings down, the crowd desperately parting as he drops to the floor.
Elsewhere, Leslie is in the girl’s room, changing out of her crappy costume. We get a nice shot of her in a bra as she brushes her hair. She reaches for her sweater, but another hand grabs it before she can. The hand belongs to Tim, who looks quite drunk. She wants to know what he is doing there, but he says he has a question for her instead. He wants to know if she is engaging in sexual intercourse with Eddie. That’s not exactly how he phrased it, mind you. It came out more like, “Are you making it with Weinbauer?” However, we all know what he means.
Speaking of Eddie, we now see him running up to the school as panicked people flee the scene, screaming, hollering and falling to the ground in obvious distress and pain. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was the aftermath of an American Idol audition. On the front steps of the school is Roger, looking quite guilty. Eddie arrives and asks him what he has done. Roger just sits there looking like he is about to cry. Then Eddie asks where Leslie is at.
She is still in the girl’s room, being confronted by a drunken Tim Hainey, who tells her that Eddie tried to kill him. He adds that Eddie put Genie in the hospital with his voodoo-witchcraft. Leslie just shakes her head, not believing a word of it. Tim calms slightly and says that he just does not want to see her get hurt.
Outside, Eddie is instructing Roger to locate the main breaker box and to then turn the power off. Roger nods in understanding. Eddie then races into the school, the sounds of sirens in the background. Roger just sits there. Better get moving, you moron! Eddie notices that Roger hasn’t moved, so he runs back and yells “NOW!” at him. This finally gets Roger to get off his ass and running. Eddie then races into the gym and sees the aftermath of Sammi’s performance: smoke everywhere and hurt people strewn about. He calls for Leslie.
Alas, Leslie is still in the girl’s room, but now she is fending off the amorous advances of the drunk and suddenly very horny Tim. He tries kissing her, but she squirms around. He implores her to "come on," reminding her that they “did it once.” Ah, so these two did the hokey-pokey at one time! She just says that he was such an asshole. This prompts him to slap her. Good thing she didn’t accuse him of having a small package or of not satisfying her. Then he might have tried beating her with a shovel rather than just slap her. He tries to apologize for his blow, but she just gets up, grabs her stuff and runs out the door.
In the gym, Eddie finds the Sammi Curr tape used by Roger and quickly destroys it, pulling out the tape and then stomping on the whole thing for good measure. Then he goes looking for Leslie. However, who he finds is Tim, standing in a hall that looks like it leads to the showers. He tries to get Tim to leave, especially once he notices the flash of light further down the hall that denotes the imminent arrival of Sammi Curr. Tim resists him, pushing him away and thus is unaware of the dead rocker until Sammi grabs him from behind. Sammi bangs him back and forth from wall to wall a time or two, then holds him up against one wall. With his other hand he licks his finger and then sticks it in a power socket. The electricity courses through his body to Tim, who screams for a few seconds and then explodes in a shower of smoke and sparks. Eddie picks himself up and runs like hell in the other direction.
Eddie runs into the gym, where a low voice calls his name and an arm reaches out from a hiding spot to pull him in. It’s just Leslie. He wraps her in a hug so tight, I thought her eyeballs were going to pop out of their sockets. Outside several cop cars have arrived at the school, but inside Eddie and Leslie are racing through the halls. He explains that they have to find the circuit breakers and kill the power. When Leslie asks why, he says so they “can stop him!” She asks who he is referring to, but he doesn’t answer, having rounded a corner and located the breaker box. Unfortunately, it is kept closed by a padlock.
A sudden surge of sound from an overhead speaker (part of the school’s public address system no doubt) causes Eddie to grab Leslie and dive to the floor. There is a flash and then electrical energy flows into the corridor. Sammi Curr appears, seemingly deposited in the hall by the arcs of energy. Eddie and Leslie run, but the nearest door is locked (of course). Sammi slowly approaches them, reminding Eddie that the two of them had a deal.
At this point, Sammi has walked past the breaker box, so when Roger comes flying around the corner with a crow bar, there is nothing to prevent him from forcibly prying it open. Eddie warns him off, saying it is too late. Roger wants to do one thing right and when he sees Sammi turn and walk in his direction, he takes the crow bar and slams it point first into the breaker box. There is a shower of sparks and Roger is thrown back. Sammi then vanishes in mid step, the power that was fueling his physical existence now gone. Eddie and Leslie now run to check on Roger. Eddie turns him over and yells out his name about a billion times, but there is no response. “He’s dead,” Eddie says in disbelief. Then Roger stirs and confirms that he is in fact not dead. What a relief! For a minute there it looked like Eddie was going to have to do his own math homework from now on. Whew. Bullet officially dodged.
Outside, the cops are taking statements from people while others are still being wheeled out on stretchers, fully costumed and all. One near hysterical girl is detailing to a pair of officers how people were getting blasted by the guitar of death, including her very best friend. When the cops ask her who it was that did all this, she says that it was Sammi Curr. Realizing that Sammi is quite dead, one cop turns to the other and suggests they investigate the party punch. HAHAHAHA! Eddie and Leslie now emerge from the school, helping Roger gimp along. Eddie calls for help, but one student, who had been telling a police officer about all the weird shit that has been happening lately, spots Eddie and says that he is “the guy.” The cops yell for Eddie to stop, but he takes off running. Leslie follows, but Roger the gimp stays put.
Eddie and Leslie run and eventually manage to lose the cops that were chasing them. Stopping in an alley so Eddie can kick garbage cans out of frustration, Leslie wants to know what is going on …the whole story. Eddie explains to her that just like popular myth says that you can raise spirits from the dead by reciting incantations, he pulled off a similar feat by playing a record backwards. Leslie asks where Sammi is now. Eddie says that the dead rocker only comes out when the record is played and he has destroyed all the copies. So it seems Sammi is gone forever. Sighing in relief, Leslie asks him where he got the record. He reveals that Nuke the DJ gave it to him and that there is a midnight tribute planned for later that night. Oh snap!
They rush to a public phone where Eddie tries to call the radio station. It is now 11:59 and Leslie wonders what will happen if the record is played over the air. Eddie doesn’t know for sure, but says that Sammi can emerge from the realm of the dead through any device than can receive a signal, whether it be a radio, a stereo or something else.
Down at the radio station, the phone is ringing, but the only guy in the front office is a security guard, who has fallen asleep while perusing an issue of Hustler. He is too far away in snooze land to wake up and answer the phone. As the clock strikes midnight, the automatic equipment kicks in, playing the pre-recorded Midnight show.
Eddie announces that they have to get to the radio station. Leslie wonders how they are going to accomplish this and he says with his mom’s car. Off they go. The race is on to see if they can stop the undead rocker Sammi Curr before he can exact his vengeance from beyond the grave.
Eddie and Leslie are now running through a residential neighborhood. Seriously, with all the running they have done and the distance they have had to cover, shouldn’t it be almost one AM by this time? They spy a police car cruising the street and hide behind a tree. Then they hear the sound of Sammi’s backwards song. Leslie wonders where it is coming from. In answer to her question, a figure comes crashing through the window of the house behind them, to land on the lawn. It’s Sammi! I have to wonder what happened to the poor shmucks inside the house who’s radio Sammi just used to manifest a physical form. Did they get fried, or did he leave them alone. Are they cowering in the corner, convinced that the devil himself just popped right out of the radio? Whatever the case, Eddie and Leslie now run like hell down the street.
The officer in the police car sees them run past and radios in to headquarters that he has spotted two kids matching the description of the suspects the cops are after. He then sees Sammi on the nearby lawn. Sammi approaches and the cop’s radio goes zap in his hands. Jumping out of the car with a huge taser gun, he tells Curr to stop or he will give him a jolt he will never forget. Ok, I get that Sammi looks odd in his outfit, but why is this cop pulling his gun on him? Sammi hasn’t done anything to warrant it. The cop cannot know that his exploding radio was Sammi’s fault. Aside from looking like a goofball, he just hasn’t done anything to justify this treatment. Unless of course, it is a crime to wear tight leather in this town. Hell, it's Halloween! Cops should expect to see goofy-looking people. Anyway, the cop fires and the two small dart-like electrodes strike Sammi in the chest. The dead rocker just smiles. Grasping the conductive wires, he sends a jolt of electricity back at the cop. When we see the officer, all that is left is a pair of smoking boots and the taser gun itself.
Eddie and Leslie make it to his house, where they run in, slam the door and turn off the lights. They peek out the window but do not see any signs of pursuit. The radio behind them then comes to life, the dial automatically seeking the local station. As the sounds of Sammi’s backwards song are heard, Eddie jumps up, grabs a fireplace poker and smashes the radio to bits. Another nearby radio comes to life and he smashes that one, too. Then another one in a different room comes on and he races over to put the smack down on that one as well. He tells Leslie to run upstairs and get his keys, located in his pants. As she does this, he quickly starts destroying every radio and television in the house, but he misses one…the small transistor radio in the shower. For some reason he also beats the shit out of a blender and a toaster. WTF? Is he afraid that Sammi is going to appear and demand freshly made juice and toast?
Eddie busts in on Leslie, who is in his room looking for the keys. She nearly has a coronary from the surprise. She tells Eddie that she cannot find the keys. He realizes that they must be in the bathroom. Cautiously they approach the door. He opens it and they slowly enter. They see that the small radio is burnt out, but despite that, there is no sign of Sammi. There is the usual tense moment where Eddie pulls back the shower curtain to reveal nothing. He then grabs his dirty pants, searches the pockets and finds the keys. The two turn for the door.
As they are exiting the bathroom, Sammi drops down in front of them, like he was clinging to the hallway ceiling like Spider-Man or something. They quickly slam the door shut, but they are now trapped in the bathroom. The lights begin to flicker on and off. Then the outlines of two hands are seen burning through the door. A few seconds after that, the entire door explodes as if five sticks of dynamite had been detonated right outside. Sammi enters and Eddie throws the hamper at him. Considering that it is usually filled with gross dirty clothes, that might have seemed like a good weapon to use, but this time the hamper is empty. All it does is cause Sammi to trip. However, Sammi reaches out to stop his fall and his hand goes into the toilet. He starts screaming, and it is not because the thing is loaded with poop and has not been flushed in a week. No, the contact with the water is what is making him cry out in apparent pain. He struggles to free himself, but when it looks like he just may do that, Leslie reaches over and flushes the toilet. This pulls Sammi back down, giving her and Eddie time to run out the door.
They quickly flee the house. Eddie runs to his mom’s car and is trying to pull out the radio. Leslie keeps an eye on the upstairs bathroom window, which is glowing from Sammi’s struggle with the crapper. Then the room goes dark. Leslie calls to Eddie, but it’s too late. The car radio comes to life, followed an instant later by the vehicle itself. Eddie dives for grass as it roars to life and spins out into the street. It rapidly hurtles down the street and around the corner…in reverse! Leslie runs over and checks on Eddie, but he is ok.
With his mom’s car now gone, Eddie has a new idea. He sees the police car parked close by, as well as the smoldering boots that are the only thing left of the cop that was driving it. The two of them quickly hop in. Eddie pulls out the radio and tosses it out the window. He starts the car up, but what should he see down at the corner of the block? Why it’s his mom’s car, turning the corner and racing in their direction…still in reverse. It must have circled the entire block that way. Eddie puts the police car in gear and speeds past the oncoming possessed car, which proceeds to crash into another parked vehicle.
Now racing through town, heading towards the radio station, they come upon some traffic. Eddie just flips the siren on, which gets everyone to clear the road. They zoom on through several intersections with no trouble. A short time later they arrive at the station, which seems to be located in the middle of a big field. The place seems pretty dark and quiet. They exit their stolen...er...borrowed cop car and approach the building. Stepping up on a bench, they peer through a window set high in the wall. Inside things look just fine, though there is no sign of movement from anyone, be they alive or dead. Leslie warns that this is dangerous, as Sammi could be in there. Eddie is not deterred, saying that he started all this and it is his fault. He obviously feels the need to correct his mistakes. He tells her to wait there and then walks away. Naturally, being a woman, she does exactly what you’d expect…she follows him.
They enter into the front office, where they see some burnt clothes in a chair behind a desk. This is what is left of the snoozing security guard. I wonder if that poor bastard even knew what hit him or did he get zapped while snoring away? Flashing lights and the sounds of electricity now draw their attention to the large window that looks in on the studio. Inside it is dark and smoky, but they can still make out the various objects that are flying around the room as the backwards music continues to play. Leslie asks Eddie where Sammi is, but he doesn’t know. What he does know is that all the activity in the studio is for one purpose: to protect the tape, which is the last existing copy of his final recordings.
Eddie gets pissed at himself now, blaming himself for letting this all happen…which is quite true. It is his fault. If it were not for his blind hero worship and petty need for revenge, everything would be just fine. Numerous people would still be alive, even if they are annoying sods like Reverend Gilstrom or Mrs. Cavell. Their blood, as well as the blood of everyone who has died tonight, is on Eddie’s hands (and Roger's). Alas, I don’t recall any laws on the books that forbade the resurrection of dead rockers by playing their albums backwards, so I guess Eddie won’t be facing prosecution for that. Evading the cops and stealing a police car? He might get in trouble for those.
He looks over at the desk where Mr. Snooze met his demise and sees the small radio atop it. He grabs it and then pulls Leslie outside. He tosses the radio in the cop car and then runs a short ways away with Leslie. He tells her that he needs her to stay there and count to one hundred. If Sammi emerges from the building, she will have time to run. If he does not, Eddie wants her to run inside and destroy the tape. She agrees, but asks what he is going to do. Finally able to man up, he leans in, kisses her and says that maybe he will see her later. That’s right! Always leave them wanting more! Eddie now jumps in the police car, straps in, starts it up and speeds away. Left alone in a field by a radio station, Leslie starts to count to one hundred. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. And on.
Zooming down the road like Speed Racer, Eddie wonders aloud where Sammi may be. He begins taunting Sammi, reminding him that he was supposed to be rock’s chosen warrior, so he should show Eddie his stuff. We quickly jump back to Leslie at the radio station. She is still counting, but has reached eighteen now. However, for some reason, she has dropped the whole Mississippi thing as she counts.
Things alternate at this point between Leslie counting and Eddie racing down the road. He keeps up his taunts and insults directed at his former idol. He realizes out loud that he doesn’t need Sammi anymore, but Sammi needs him. After all, where would he be without his fans? Who will buy his records when they are gone? Finally, after a few more generic insults, it is being labeled a “poser,” that causes Sammi to zap into existence in the back seat. Because of the grated barrier between them, Sammi cannot reach Eddie and choke the life out of him like he so desperately wants to do. The car races down the road, having reached a speed in excess of eighty-five miles an hour. Better hope that thing is not outfitted with a flux capacitor or both of them might end up in 1955 if they go much faster.
Back at the radio station, Leslie has reached one hundred. She grabs a lighting fixture from the driveway and wielding it like a club, charges into the building. At the same time, Eddie is driving the car off the same bridge he almost went off earlier. The car flies over the edge and plummets into the water (there is no sign at all of the car he himself abandoned right on the very edge just a short time earlier...maybe it fell into the river). There are a few bursts of electrical energy, then all is still. Meanwhile, Leslie has entered the studio and using her makeshift weapon, not only destroys the Sammi Curr tape, but pretty much wrecks the whole reel to reel machine it is on. I hope they have insurance there! Out at the bridge, Eddie surfaces in the water. However, he seems to be quite some distance from the bridge off which he just drove. Did he swim all that way underwater, navy seal-style? He then lets out a “Woo Hoo” before swimming for shore.
It is now daylight when Eddie returns to the radio station. I guess he had to walk the entire way back. If so, why did it take him so damn long? Let's look at some facts:
A) At midnight, Eddie and Leslie run from downtown to his house. After encountering Sammi there and avoiding him, they borrow a police car and drive to the radio station. We really have no idea how long all this takes to do, though by the time they reach the station, the midnight tribute is still playing, so one can assume that it is not yet 1:00 AM yet.
B) At this point, after being at the radio station for just a couple of minutes, Eddie hops in the borrowed police car and floors it, racing away from the radio station as Leslie stays behind and begins counting slowly to one hundred. He attains speeds up to 85 miles per hour and reaches the bridge where he drives off and kills Sammi just seconds after Leslie reaches one hundred. So how far did he travel? He could not have been driving at 85 MPH that entire time, but even if we conservatively estimate his rate of travel at 60 MPH, then he traveled about 8800 feet or about 1.6 miles. Given his speed, he could have gone even further, maybe even close to two miles. Let’s say that Leslie is a slow counter and took twice as long to reach one hundred as it normally would take. In that case, Eddie has driven about four miles away from the station.
Now remember that it cannot be any later that one in the morning when Eddie sends the car into the river, yet the sun has risen by the time he returns to the radio station, presumably having walked the entire way. Sunrise would not occur until after six AM, so did it really take him five hours to walk that distance? Four miles (max) in five hours? Sheesh, that isn’t even one mile per hour. I can walk faster than that! Hell, Stephen Hawking could walk faster than that! What was Eddie doing that entire time? Ok, sure…he did surface on the far side of the river, so swimming back across and then climbing back up to the road probably took some time, but I still think he should have been back a lot sooner than well after daybreak. I really do over think this crap, don’t I?
Leslie is asleep at the desk when he enters. She wakes up, sees him and smiles. The two embrace and then kiss…right there in front of the scorched remains of the security guard. Have they no shame? Also, doesn't this station have a morning show? Shouldn't someone be reporting for work by this time?
Now we see Eddie turning on the equipment at the station, spinning dials and flipping switches. He talks into the microphone. “Wake up sleepy heads. It’s party time.” Then he pushes in a tape and begins playing music over the air.
All seems well but think about the situation for a second. Sammi Curr has been vanquished and Eddie gets the girl. However, life was probably kind of crappy for him. The Police still want to question him about all the deaths at the high school, even though he had nothing to do with them. They won’t be too happy about him running away from them (cops really hate it when you don’t freeze the instant they tell you to. Trust me, I know). They really will be unhappy about the officer than got fatally zapped as well as their police car that ended up at the bottom of the river thanks to Eddie. I’m sure he had a lot of fast talking to do. He was probably on some kind of probation for quite some time.
Oh, yeah…be sure to watch the credits all the way to the very, very end.
I think one of the constants in the universe is the disapproval and disdain older people often show for the music and entertainment of the younger generations, not to mention the fashion styles flaunted by their offspring. I remember my mother relating to me how her own parents frowned upon her choice of music back in the 1930’s. Stuff that would be considered the very epitome of tame and inoffensive today, yet grandma and gramps were not fond of the “rebellious” lyrics to some songs. The cycle has only continued through the decades, but really took center stage in the 50’s with the dawn of the rock and roll music era and all the shaking, gyrating, pelvic thrusting and other “obscene” movements that came with it. Since those early days, music in general and rock music in particular, has been ever evolving, each new generation of musicians infusing more and more “questionable” content into their work. That brings us to the decade that saw yours truly as a teenager: the glorious 80’s and the rise of heavy metal.
By the 1980’s, hard rock music was coming under fire again for not just the overt themes in much of the music – things like Satanism, killing, rape, violence and what not – but, supposedly for the more subliminal messages as well. During this time, more people than ever before thought that certain musical acts were hiding secret messages in their songs through the use of backwards masking. Then there were those who were ardent in their belief that the letters in band names like Kiss and AC/DC had to stand for something evil. I remember my mother once asking me what Dio stood for! Of course, morons who killed themselves after listening to Ozzy Osbourne’s Suicide Solution or wastes of skin who stalked and killed people and credited AC/DC as inspiration were certainly not helping matters. Everything came to a head with the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) which was formed by Tipper Gore and three other Washington wives. They sought to educate parents on the dangers represented by certain musicians – with the heavy metal crowd at the top of their list. I won’t get into them too much, but if you want to read all about them, go here. It’s pretty much because of them that record labels adopted the stickers on albums that warn of potentially offensive content.
Where the film medium is concerned, movies about teen angst and rebellion are nothing new. Teenagers have always been a healthy part of the ticket buying crowd, so films have often catered to their tastes and tried to relate to their problems, both real and perceived, with a little rock and roll thrown in for good measure. The 1950’s saw an explosion of films like this, no doubt due to the sudden surge of rock music and the realization by film producers that teens were more than willing to spend their cash on such cinematic outings. Films like Rebel Without a Cause (1955) were big hits and as usual, the flood of like-minded films followed. Movies like Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956), Runaway Daughters (1956), Dragstrip Girl (1957), Rock All Night (1957), Motorcycle Gang (1957), Dragstrip Riot (1958), Daddy-O (1958), Hot Rod Gang (1958) and High School Hellcats (1958) are just a mere handful of such films that were distributed by American International Pictures alone.
As the years went by, various films have used the current events, trends, fashion and musical styles of the day to help flesh out their stories and make them relatable to the youth of the time. Thus, over the years everything from acid-dropping hippies protesting something wrong with the establishment while attending their open air festivals, to leisure-suited disco clowns hopping around a dance floor in platform shoes, showing off their bling and trying to score with as many people as possible, to anything in between, have shown up on the silver screen at one time or another. While the music and fashion styles change, the problems rarely do. Violence, sex, social acceptance, self worth and all the other usual stuff pops up in these flicks for the teen characters to deal with. And so it is that we come to Trick or Treat. In essence, this film is a cross between Stephen King’s Carrie and the second Nightmare on Elm Street flick, only here the subculture of heavy metal music was tossed in to help illustrate the alienation and anger felt by many young people of the era. And speaking as a person who was 17 years of age when this movie hit theaters, and who was obsessed with the musical genre in question, I will say that this movie did manage to be relatable to me at the time.
Based on a story idea by Rhet Topham, the film’s screenplay was written by Joel Soisson and Michael S. Murphey, both of whom were previously line producers on A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), which may explain some of the similarities between that film and this one. Soisson has since gone on to write, produce and direct many notable genre films, including Dracula 2000 (2000), Mimic 2 (2001), Dracula II: Ascension (2003), Trekkies 2 (2004), Dracula III: Legacy (2005), Feast (2005) and Pulse (2006). Glen Morgan – who plays Roger in the film – and James Wong are listed on the IMDb as uncredited writers, which if true, may prove to be their first collaboration before moving on to TV shows like The X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond, Millennium, as well as movies like Final Destination (2000) and Black Christmas (2006). This was the first directing job for actor Charles Martin Smith, famous for roles in American Graffiti (1973) and Starman (1984). Since this project he has continued to act, produce and direct.
When it came time to cast the film, the lead went to Marc Price, who was best known then (and perhaps always will be) for nerdy Erwin “Skippy” Handleman on the NBC sitcom Family Ties. While pretty much fading into obscurity since then, he was well known enough at the time for the choice to elicit a few laughs when people recognized him. The role of Sammi Curr was originally offered to Blackie Lawless of the band W.A.S.P. (a band whose first album had the words “we are sexual perverts” etched on the vinyl itself, lending credence to the claims from moral crusaders that metal band names had to be acronyms for something bad), but went to former Solid Gold dancer Tony Fields when Lawless refused. Fields would only make a handful of more films before passing away from cancer in 1995 at the age of thirty-six. The film also had brief cameos by real life rockers Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons of Kiss. They have extremely brief roles, but in more recent years DVD covers credit them as the stars of the film!
Dino De Laurentiis, whose De Laurentiis Entertainment Group produced the film, openly claimed that he wanted to start his own horror movie franchise with this film, no doubt planning to have Sammi Curr return for further murderous rampages in much the same vein as Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. Alas, that was not to be. While the film spoke to some teens, it was such a small, niche crowd that commercial success could not be built upon their support alone. That and the critical beating the film took by both critics and members of the target audience guaranteed a short, forgettable run in theaters. In the end, this was the only cinematic outing for Sammi Curr. However, for those in the audience that took a liking to the music, it lived on in the form of a highly desirable soundtrack album from the band Fastway. While long out of print, those who truly wish to own copies of the film’s music and don't wish to pay too much for it, need look no further than iTunes. That’s what I did.
This film is rather difficult to categorize. Is it a slasher film? Well, not really, though it does have a mad killer and a body count that rivals those found in slasher flicks. Is it a supernatural horror film? Well, despite messages from beyond the grave and a dead guy returning to life, this angle is not really used too much. Is it a revenge film? Again, not really. Sure, Eddie gets back at those who tormented him, but it’s all rather tame and not very…well, vengeful. The film certainly isn’t a comedy, though there are moments that will no doubt make you laugh, whether those laughs were intended or not. In the end, the film is all of those things and none of them. It borrows elements from all those fields, but doesn’t focus on any one area. Rather than being greater than the sum of its parts, it’s more like just a collection of elements tossed together.
Eddie is the outsider that I would venture to say many teen males feel themselves to be, whether it is true or not. There are always other guys who are cooler, slicker and better looking, an attractive girl that is beyond their reach due to her social standing and plenty of people who view them as some sort of un-evolved slime. Come to think of it, things were not that different just a few years ago when I was in my early 30’s. The desire to redeem oneself and prove their virility and attractiveness to the opposite sex is a strong drive. Believe me, I know it all too well. Thus, Eddie, while being a rather thin character, still retains enough realism for the audience to identify with him. We cheer him on when he gets back at his tormentors, though film heroes usually end up showing more compassion for their enemies than people would in the real world. Eddie wants revenge, but doesn’t let it rule him, pulling back from the edge before it consumes him. As played by Marc Price, Eddie is likeable, but part of that might be because we see some of Skippy Handleman in him.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Tim Hainey, who is the typical 80’s teen jackass. He’s cool, has cool friends, a hot girlfriend, is in great shape and is good looking. He is also a total jackass who taunts those different from him and those he perceives to be not so cool. Of course, Eddie is pretty much the only person in that small field of potential victims. Tim is the usual bully in that he loves to dish it out, but cannot take it in return. His jerkwad status is confirmed in the end when Eddie shows more humanity that he ever did and tries to help him, only to spurn Eddie’s efforts. Naturally, this just leads to an early and explosive end for him. Doug Savant does a decent job with Tim, making him unlikable. Despite his attributes, it’s hard to see oneself hanging out with such an asshole. It’s pretty much the same role he played the year before in Teen Wolf, but ya gotta go with what works.
As for everyone else…meh. Roger is the typical nerdy best friend. Leslie is the desirable girl with a heart of gold. Genie is the annoying bitch. Anyone else is just window dressing. Even Sammi Curr, who so much of the movie is structured around, is nothing more than the thinnest of cardboard cutouts. Never do we learn how or why he is returning from the grave, nor do we learn why he has such a rager for everyone. Sammi just is. It’s as if someone was trying to say that heavy metal musicians were just flat out evil by nature, irredeemable and destined for bad things. The movie needed a bad guy and who better than some crazy, longhaired rocker? It’s no wonder that no further Sammi Curr films were forthcoming. The character had no motivation. Even with killers like Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger, we understood a little of what drove them. Here, we get nothing, making for a lackluster and one-note (pun not intended) killer.
Action – I hesitate to use this icon. Even though there are a couple of instances where cars are careening down the road in a desperate chase, they are not exactly super thrilling.
Crazed Killers – Sammi Curr is not exactly Jason Vorhees. He doesn’t kill everyone he comes across. Not immediately. He prefers to rock out before zapping people into puffs of smoke.
Demons – Only one creature in this film qualifies as a demon, and that would be the gargoyle-like thing that appears in the car and pretty much humps poor Genie into unconsciousness.
Ghosts – Technically, Sammi Curr is a ghost, since he's dead, yet maintains a noncorporeal existence. On occasion he can manifest a physical body out of pure energy.
Nudity – There isn’t a lot of this, so don’t get your hopes up (or anything else for that matter). A couple of times, bare boobies can be spotted. That's about it. Oh, and man ass. Ew.
Rock 'n' Roll - Quite a bit of this, considering the bad guy is a dead rocker returned from the grave. Lots of musical accompaniment and of course there's the Halloween concert.
Romance - Eddie pines away for Leslie. At first she doesn’t know he exists, but given time she does and by film’s end they are locking lips. She must have a thing for losers.
Violence - Most deaths involve puffs of smoke and smoldering clothes and there are never any graphic moments of spurting blood, spilled guts or gory FX. Rather tame, really.
Songs from Fastway in film: 6
Songs from Fastway on soundtrack: 9
Number of metal bands visually referenced: 13
Bare boobs: 6
Bare Butts: 1 (sadly, it is male)
Real life rockers top billed on DVD cover: 2
Percentage of film with real life rockers: 3.95%
Appliances destroyed by Eddie: 10
Possessed cars: 2
Possible product placements: 8
Mins - Was there mousse or gel in his hand?
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time the name and/or logo for an 80’s metal band is spotted, whether it be a poster, sticker or whatever, take a drink.
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Eddie writing a letter to his idol.
Eddie:“Airheads and braindeads are everywhere. Who needs them? What do they have that I need?
Shadow’s comment: Um…a life?
Roger lectures Eddie on backwards masking..
Roger: “You have fallen for the biggest gimmick in the record industry…eh...some ad exec somewhere thought up the idea of hidden lyrics so that pinheads like Eduardo Weinbauer would fuck up their records playing them backwards and then have to go buy more. Dude, wake up.”
Shadow’s Comment: Indeed and when you are finally able to make out those backwards messages, what do they say? Hail Satan? Kill your parents? Nope. More like, “congrats, dumbass on screwing up your record. Now go buy another.
Tim warns Leslie about Eddie.
Tim: “He tried to kill me…and he put Genie in the hospital with his voodoo witchcraft or whatever the hell it is.”
Shadow’s Comment: So he’s a scientologist?
Film & Me
I saw this film in the theater when it first opened, perhaps even on opening night itself. I remember the sizable crowd in the theater to see the film. I clearly recall all the shouting from the males in the audience when Genie was about to lose her bra and expose her breasts. I remember the lively discussion my friend Mike and I had afterwards on the relationship between Metalhead and Preppie posited in the film. Since the metalheads and headbangers at our school were all badass and took crap from no one, we agreed that no self respecting metal fan would tolerate such crap from morons like Tim Hainey (of course we were overlooking the simple fact that we were exactly like Eddie at the time). However, one thing I do not recall seeing was any TV ads for the film. I don’t remember knowing about the film before seeing it. I just remember being in the theater and seeing it. I guess old age is creeping up on me faster than I thought if I cannot recall those details.
Shadow's rating: Five Tombstones
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