Night Flight’s 1986 Halloween Horror Movie Special featured a special look at “Trick or Treat”

By on October 30, 2017

“Tonight, a trip into terror, a journey through the macabre…” announcer Pat Prescott tells us at the beginning of our 1986 Halloween Horror Movie Special (which originally aired in late September!), where we took a look at horror movies released that year, including Aliens, Deadly Friend, The Fly, Rat Boy, Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, and Trick or Treat, dubbed “the first hardcore heavy metal monster movie.” Watch it tonight on Night Flight Plus!

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Our special look at the comedy-horror movie Trick or Treat, in particular, featured behind-the-scenes interviews with the film’s director and several of its stars, including Marc Price (as “Eddie Weinbauer,” aka “Ragman”) who some will remember from his role on TV’s “Family Ties” as the dorky “Skippy Handelman” (ask your parents).

Here’s what director Charles Martin Smith said at the time about his film’s plot:

Trick or Treat is about a high school student named Eddie Weinbauer who listens to heavy metal music. He’s what some people call a headbanger. His hero, Sammy Curr, who is a heavy metal rock star, dies in a mysterious fire. He gets a hold of the last album that was recorded by Sammy, and on this album he finds hidden messages that seem to pertain to his life. He gets more and more caught up and actually finds that it’s Sammy coming back from the grave.”

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Trick or Treat arrived in theaters on October 24, 1986, amid the so-called “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, when bands and solo artists like Ozzy Osbourne were being singled out for foisting the devil’s music on unsuspecting teens through the use of “backmasking.”

There are also unique interview clips in our Halloween Horror Movie Special featuring Ozzy and KISS’s Gene Simmons, who both have very small cameo roles in Trick or Treat.

Their casting was likely done as a way to mock their over-the-top reaction to heavy metal music being the inspired work of Satan.

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Simmons plays a Wolfman Jack-ish FM deejay, “Nuke,” while Ozzy is “Reverend Aaron Gillstrom,” a conservative preacher who spends all of his ninety seconds of terrific onscreen time frothing-at-the-mouth denouncing rock music.

One of the film’s writer-producers, Joel Soisson (who worked on Piranha 3DD and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) even notes: “[Ozzy] is what everybody’s notion of what a satanic, demonic, heavy metal rocker is.”

At the time, Ozzy — and Judas Priest — had already been slapped with lawsuits which claimed their music had led to teen suicides.

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Read more about Trick or Treat below.

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Trick or Treat – which reflected the anxieties surrounding pop culture at the time, as did Hard Rock Zombies (1985), Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) and Black Roses (1988) —  arrived in theaters just a year after the formation in 1985 of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).

The PMRC — a group founded by four worried “Washington wives,” including former Vice President Al Gore’s wife Tipper — had become overly concerned that some popular music was leading to a decay of family values, and they made it their mission to take the music business to task for albums and videos containing themes of sex, drugs and violence.

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Trick or Treat also satirizes the 1985 Tipper Gore-inspired Senate hearings where Frank Zappa and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister defended their music against their straight-laced critics.

The PMRC ultimately became responsible for getting those “parental advisory” stickers placed on CD covers as a warning to parents that the lyrics contained herein had content pertaining to sex, violence, drugs/alcohol… or the occult.

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Sammi Curr is played by flamboyant A Chorus Line actor and “Solid Gold” dancer Tony Fields, who also appeared in Michael Jackson’s videos for “Thriller” and “Beat It”; he died in 1995 of AIDS-related cancer, at age 36.

His band’s music in Trick or Treat was performed by Fastway — their lineup featured Motörhead’s Fast Eddie Clarke and UFO’s Pete Way — who fit right in with ’80s-era L.A. hair metal bands like Mötley Crüe.

Weirdly, their lead singer Dave King went on to front Irish-American punk-folk band Flogging Molly.

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Trick or Treat was lensed mostly in the Wilmington, North Carolina area, where Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis had set up DEG, Wilmington’s first movie studio.

Lakeridge High School was actually New Hanover High School, which was also seen in the TV series “Dawson’s Creek,” and in the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman film Dream a Little Dream.

Other Wilmington locations you’ll recognize in Trick or Treat also appeared in movies like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986).

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Unfortunately, we don’t get to see any interviews with some of the other Trick or Treat actors, including Eddie’s love interest Leslie Graham (the clearly-out-of-his-league Lisa Orgolini), Genie Wooster (Elise Richards) or Eddie’s nemesis Tim, played by Doug Savant, who was memorable in TV shows like “Melrose Place” and “Desperate Housewives.”

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As mentioned above, Trick or Treat was the directorial debut of actor Charles Martin Smith, who first came to our attention as “Toad” in George Lucas’s 1973 movie American Graffiti.

Smith later went on to more memorable film roles and more jobs as a director, although he did not return to the horror genre again unless you count directing the pilot episode of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

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Be sure to read our previous Night Flight blog post about how Trick or Treat was one of nearly 3,000 horror and exploitation movies released on VHS that were singled out for preservation by the Yale University Library.

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Stick around for an hour-long mashup of Horror throughout film history, with titles ranging from the exotic (The Beast with a Million Eyes), to the surreal (Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou) and classic (Nosferatu).

This is some of Night Flight’s finest, folks, don’t miss it!

Watch our 1986 Halloween Horror Movie Special tonight on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.