HALLOWEEN’ING Day 27: Trick Or Treat (1986)

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halloween'ing 2017
TRICK OR TREAT
This is one of my favorite cheesy rocksploitation horror flicks from the 80s. This has it all: a B-List sitcom star (Marc Price, who played “Skippy” from Family Ties), a hard rockin’ metal soundtrack, over-the-top cartoonish occult wackiness, and cameos from Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons. Marc Price plays Eddie, a metal-head High School misfit whose hero–infamous heavy metal star Sammi Curr–has just died in a hotel fire. Understandably distraught over this, he is gifted Curr’s unreleased album Songs In The Key Of Death by local DJ Nuke. Soon, Eddie discovers that the soul of Curr is trapped inside the record itself, and is giving Eddie instructions on staging his big comeback…from death!

Trick Or Treat is one of those tradition movies, where I try to watch it at least once during the Halloween season. It’s fun 80s horror cheese at its finest.

TRICK OR TREAT

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Movie Review: TRICK OR TREAT

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Movie Review: TRICK OR TREATCastle Home Video
1986
R

“Shut up! Play my tape for me tonight or die!”

Poor little metal head Skip…er, I mean Eddie finds solace from the everyday torment of being a mulleted high school geek in the form of heavy METAAAAAAAAAAL!!! (You can’t see it, but I’m raising the two-fingered fist of METAAAAAAAAAAL!!! and banging my head) One day his Hessian Xanadu is rocked (no pun intended) when his spandex clad idol Sammi Curr dies in a hotel fire. While in mourning, a reclusive rock DJ gives Eddie a rare master pressing of the album Sammi Curr was set to release before his untimely passing. Soon, though, Eddie finds that this is no ordinary slab of vinyl- seems that Sammi somehow encoded his very soul within the grooves, and when played backwards…well, let’s just say ol’ Sammi’s comin’ back for an encore…of EEE-VIL! That scamp…

Alright, let me tell you, this movie is one heck of a low-budget heavy metal horror ride. I’ve seen copies of Trick Or Treat on DVDs sold at Wal-Mart for $5. Although the cover art is a bit of a misnomer- metal icons Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne are both pictured prominently, when they only have bit parts in the movie (the rock DJ and a televangelist, respectively). You would be remiss not to check this quaint cheeseball out.

As an old metal head who discovered music in the 80s, I felt the pain of reclusive Eddie, who spends most of his time in his room listening to music (the scene where Ed’s mom discovers his album collection and freaks out over the cover artwork is priceless). Obviously this movie capitalized on the national hubbub going on at the time involving the supposed evil effect heavy metal had on teens, and especially so-called backmasking. But instead of moralizing, Trick Or Treat neither condemns nor blindly accepts the issues; instead, it’s played as a fun horror excess. Weird things happen when a tape Eddie made of the record played backwards is used, Eddie gets revenge on his jock tormentors, and Sammi Curr materializes at a high school dance to spread his heavy metal evil by…prancing around the stage like a peacock. This is a fine watch some dark, stormy night. Order a pizza, invite some friends over and enjoy…

Movie Review: ROCK STAR

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Movie Review: ROCK STARWarner Bros. Pictures
2001
R

“I don’t want to be in some cut-rate cover band that butchers the music the people come to hear, just so you can play your crappy originals!”

Chris “Izzy” Cole is a photocopier technician by day, and by night he fronts Blood Pollution, a tribute band to his favoritest metal group of all time, Steel Dragon. After being ousted from Blood Pollution, he’s suddenly recruited by Steel Dragon as their new vocalist. Ecstatic dream-come-true rock n’ roll excess wackiness ensues. Then he burns out, quits the band, and winds up in Seattle playing acoustic alternative crap in a coffee house. The end.

Sorry about that. I am a bit cynical about this movie. I really should have enjoyed this much more than I did. I mean, a movie that’s a thinly veiled riff on the Judas Priest saga in the 1990s, that featured Mark “Don’t Call Me Marky Mark” Wahlberg and a fake band that included some big names in hard rock and metal? Metal horns up, baby. And for the most part, I did enjoy Rock Star. It had some great sequences and an equally great soundtrack. There’s a scene involving a standoff between two Steel Dragon tribute bands in a parking lot that I always get a kick out of watching.

Of course, the awesome highs become tempered when the realities of being the replacement guy set in, and after the obligatory scenes of overindulgence and clashes with the band, the whole thing comes full circle in one of my favorite scenes in the movie. This scene is followed by one of the most eye-rolling, sneer-educing endings that sadly typifies the mindset and cliché most everyone has about metal – that one day, every metalhead grows up and turns to singer / songwriter alternative contemporary neo-hippy crap. The old “I used to listen to metal, but then I discovered good music” backhand.

But, outside of that ending, Rock Star is a pretty decent movie. Entertaining, has some great tunes in the soundtrack, and some memorable scenes going for it. Good for getting in touch with your inner Hessian…

Movie Review: ROCKTOBER BLOOD

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rocktober-bloodVestron Video
1984
R

It’s the most dangerous concert ever–it’s the Roctober Blood Tour–a “killer” show with everything you wouldn’t expect to see…screaming fans, bright lights, guitars…and murder! Billy “Eye” Harper, one of rock’s megastars, was electrocuted for several brutal murders and the near-fatal stabbing of Lynn Starling, his back-up vocalist and lover. Two years have passed and Lynn has taken over the band. Now they’re out on the road in the ultimate concert spectacular. One person can stop the music…Billy! He’s out of the grave, ready to rock and rule!

I love the 1980s, I really do. I grew up in the era, and have many fond memories of the often over-the-top kitschy and brightly coloured pop culture of the time. But even I have to admit that the brand of cheese that was unique to that decade could get rather funky, and I’m not talking about the music style. Especially in the horror movies of the time, especially when it came to low-budget slasher movies, and especially when it came to low-budget slasher movies that pandered to a certain sub-culture. In this case, it’s one of my favorites: ROCKSPLOITATION!

If you go off of the title Rocktober Blood alone, you already know what kind of movie you’re going to be getting yourself into when you press play on that ancient VHS player of yours. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this title has yet to see the light of day on DVD, and the only way I was able to watch this thing was via You Tube, which seems to be a good place to unearth these almost forgotten gems of yore. If you do happen to come across Rocktober Blood on videotape, or if you’re like me and just want to watch it once out of morbid curiosity utilizing a more non-traditional (yet still completely legal) route, allow me to forewarn you that Rocktober Blood barely manages to rate a “So Bad It’s Good” rating from yours truly.

Ruining a low-budget slasher is about as hard as ruining a bowl of corn flakes: it’s so easy to do, a toddler could do it. Well, maybe a bit older than a toddler, with better motor skills to pour the milk. Okay, I’m over thinking this analogy. Point is, the husband and wife team who wrote, directed and produced this movie managed to ruin the bowl of corn flakes by using bad ingredients. The story–that of a rock star singer who goes nuts one night and kills a bunch of people, is put to death and then comes back from the dead a couple of years later to continue his killing spree–is rather thin and poorly written, my disbelief not so much suspended as it was merely hoisted up onto its tippy-toes, with a big “twist” that somehow manages to insult the intelligence of the viewer further beyond what they’re going through already. The acting was so wooden and boring that I just didn’t care. Even a little bit of ham would have made it more enjoyable. And the biggest issue here is, for a movie that has the word “Blood” featured prominently in the title, there’s surprisingly little of it in here. Which doesn’t really matter, as the obviously amateurish effects used on the few scenes that called for this elusive blood resulted in groans of incredulity rather than gasps of revulsion.

The only thing they got right in this movie was the music. For the “rock” part of this rocksploitation, the music stylings of metal band Sorcery, which lends a much-needed air of authenticity. Members of the band are featured as the band Headmistress in the movie. Also, the live stage show in the movie was pretty neat, having that kitchy “evil” metal theatrical thing going. Other than that, Rocktober Blood is mostly 90+ minutes that you will never get back. Watch it once if you’re really, really morbidly curious, and maybe even drag some friends along. Because misery loves company and all that. Otherwise, this one can remain an obscure VHS only release.

Movie Review: HARD ROCK ZOMBIES

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hard rock zombiesVestron Video
1985
R

“You guys ready for the show? The loud show? Loud music show? Rock and roll?”

Holy Moses is a hot young rock band on the cusp of stardom. They journey to a secluded Northern California hamlet to perform what is touted as the gig that will propel them to stardom. Instead, it’s the beginning of a remarkably macabre adventure. The band is taken captive by a strange family. The band members are subjected to unimaginable horrors before being brutally slaughtered. But the fun begins when they are resurrected and become the Hard Rock Zombies. They’re set to give their greatest performance as they rock n’ roll their way to vengeance in an all-out attack on the crazed clan. Hard Rock Zombies–you just can’t keep a good band down!

You may have noted that I like to include the official movie description blurb that’s usually found on the back of whatever media I use to watch the movie (in this case, a rather beat up VHS copy); not out of laziness of describing the movie in my own words, but to give you an idea of what kind of spin is used to promote what is contained on said media. Sometimes the description is right on, but other times, you wonder what movie the person who wrote the description watched, because it didn’t exactly match what you just witnessed. In the case of Hard Rock Zombies, the descript here is accurate, but I found myself admiring the mental fortitude of whoever wrote the blurb while straining to boil the entire movie down to just that handful of short paragraphs.

Hard Rock Zombies is a big, steamy pile of a mess. To start off, this thing started off life as a short to be used in another movie entirely, called American Drive-In, as one of the movies being played on the drive-in screen. Or, at least I would assume that’s what the intention is, because I haven’t seen that particular movie, and neither do I have any intention of doing so in the near future. But, someone decided that the Hard Rock Zombies short was innovative enough to be made into its own full-length feature, so they gave whoever made this an extra twenty bucks to pad out the time, and then retired back into their cushy movie producer offices to swim Scrooge McDuck-style in their big pile of cocaine [citation needed]. At least, that’s the version that amuses me more. Because…well, how else would you logically explain the existence of Hard Rock Zombies?

In the pantheon of bad movies, Hard Rock Zombies manages to hit them all, and then invent some of their own badness to throw into the morass. Let’s start with the unholy mess that is the story: 80s big hair rock band Holy Moses (oy) is going to play a show for a big-wig record company exec in a back-woods po-dunk (is that how it’s spelled? I’m too lazy to Google it right now) town where the locals don’t take too kindly to these long-haired, loud music-playin’ nogoodniks and try to run them out of town the night before the big concert. Fortunately, a creepy family that lives slightly out of town (and features two midgets) takes them in, the lead singer initiates a creepy romance with a local 14-year-old, the entire band turns out to be Adolf Hitler and the entire family are Nazis (including the midgets) and then kill the band; the grieving 14-year-old resurrects the band using a demo tape made of a riff taken from…I don’t know, we’ll just say the Necronomicon (it’s as good as anything), who then proceed to avenge their deaths by killing the family of Nazis, and arrive in time to play their show for the big-wig record company exec. Only, the dead Nazis are resurrected as zombies as well, and go on to turn the rock n’ roll hatin’ locals into zombies. The 14-year-old is captured and tied up because she’s the only virgin in the town, and they need a virgin to sacrifice to appease…something something, I believe at this point I was struggling to keep my own brain from liquefying beyond redemption. Anyway, zombie band come in for the rescue, luring all the zombies (including the Zombie Nazi Midgets…because I would be remiss if I went the entire review by not writing Zombie Nazi Midgets) into a hidden gas chamber (oy) to be killed off.

Ow ow ow oooooowwwww, my head hurts. And that was the Reader’s Digest condensed version. You see now why I have such admiration for those unsung souls who have to write very brief blurbs for the back of the DVD covers?

Yeah, Hard Rock Zombies is a baaaaaaaaaaad movie. I guess you’d already have a notion of that just by the title alone. But that doesn’t do it justice. It’s ultra low budget, the acting is supremely bad, the zombie make-up effects consists of the black and white style that makes everyone look like refugees from the KISS Army, the story seems to suffer from ADHD (I’m a ROCKSPLOITATION PIC! No, now I’m a SLASHER! Now I’m a ZOMBIE FLICK! SQUIRREL!), not to mention a non-explicit yet still creepy pedophile angle (made even more unsettling due to the guy’s mullet-and-mustache combo) and the shoehorned in attempts at “comedy” gags are completely DOA, making the entirety of Hard Rock Zombies one of the biggest examples of unintentional hilarity I’ve watched in quite a while. But the worst part is that, the concept itself couldn’t sustain the full-length running time, thereby dragging quite a bit in the middle part, causing my mind to wander onto better uses of my time than watching the movie. And that is not a good sign, folks.

So, seeing as how I’ve already spent more time than needed bemoaning this movie, I will say that, as bad as Hard Rock Zombies is, this does fall under the You Must Find This And Watch This At Least Once category, because at least it’s an entertaining trainwreck of a movie.