FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Nov 15, 2006

Mistaken Identity

Months and months ago, for one reason or another, I went to Pittsburgh. Whilst doing my thing in Pittsburgh, whatever that thing happened to be, I came across a massive store selling all manner of music and movies. They had a great horror section, full of older, used titles, and I came out with a big bagful of VHS. ‘Twas a magical afternoon in yon Olde Pittsburghe Towne.

One of the movies I picked up was a little something called Trick or Treat, starring David Carradine and Carrie Snodgress. The box promised that this movie, the anxiously-awaited directorial debut of Orson Welles’ chief cameraman, would be a terrifying tale of spoiled brats, magic tricks, and an escaped nutso from the local insane asylum. After Trick or Treat came home with me, I checked out some reviews online and, shock of all shocks, it seemed that the promises promised by the box would turn out to be the lies of a liar. Apparently, it’s a dull, plodding movie with no scares whatsoever. Unexcited about the prospect of watching a dull, plodding movie with no scares whatsoever, I kept putting off putting it in the VCR. There was always something better to watch, or something worse to watch but at least the crappiness and letdown would be a surprise.

Push came to shove the other night, however. In a fit of reckless abandon, I decided to attempt to recapture the glory days of USA’s Saturday Nightmares or Up All Night and stay up late watching a horror movie. Perusing my shelf, I saw the Trick or Treat box peering at me plaintively, sending me signals of neglect and rejection. Dude, I sent it signals right back. I was all “Trick or Treat, nothing personal, but…I know you’re gonna suck. I’ve read all about you, and quite frankly, I can’t say that I’m all that enthusiastic about spending 90 minutes with you.” The next thing I know, Trick or Treat was totally getting whiny and was all “But you brought me home! You brought me into your home, you put me on a shelf, and you’ve ignored me ever since. How do you know I’m not the right movie for you? Just because I’m misunderstood by everyone, doesn’t mean that you and I won’t really connect, dig? We could really get something special going if you’d only give me a chance to make you happy.” I thought Trick or Treat was getting in way too deep here, so I was all “Trick or Treat, listen, I—“ and then Trick or Treat cut me off with “If you’re not going to watch me, then cut me loose, dammit. Just cut me loose! Sell me on eBay, sell me at Half Price Books. Take me to Goodwill and offer me up to the poor, tired, huddled masses. Drive me all the way back to Pittsburgh and throw me in the Monongahela, I don’t even care anymore. But if I sit here ignored next to your copy of Clash of the Titans much longer, there’s no telling what I’ll do.”

So I was like “Umm…are you threatening me, Trick or Treat? Are you fucking threatening ME in MY house? Because I will totally whale on you like you’ve never—“ but then I stopped. Trick or Treat had started to cry softly. I couldn't take it...I relented. I decided just to watch the damn movie and get it over with. I didn’t want to fight anymore, you know? I just wanted to sit in the dark and watch a horror movie without all the fussin’ and the fuedin’. So, after months and months of procrastination, I took the tape over to the VCR, put it in, pressed play, and…

It was the wrong fucking movie! After all that time, it wasn’t even the right Trick or Treat. You see, instead of the 1982 David Carradine flick, I was treated to the 1986 Trick or Treat starring Marc Price of television’s Family Ties as a mulleted metalhead who unleashes the spirit of a dead rocker upon the bullies who bully him.

I have to admit, when I realized what was going on, I was a little excited. I’d seen Trick or Treat in the theatre during its initial run, and while I didn’t remember going all goo-goo over it, surely it had to be better than the turkey I’d been avoiding. I’m sorry to say, however, that as the movie progressed, I remembered that I thought Trick or Treat sucked when I saw it the first time and lo and behold, it still kinda sucked. It fit the bill of late night cheesy horror, though, so I suppose I was satisfied on that level.

As I said, Marc Price of television’s Family Ties stars as Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer, your typical picked-on, metal-lovin’, mullet-sportin’ outcast. He’s humiliated repeatedly by the preppy crowd, led by none other than Doug Savant of television’s Melrose Place. Eddie finds solace in music, particularly the supposedly scary devil-worshipping style but really lite and lame style metal music of his hero, Sammi Curr. When Curr dies in a hotel fire, Eddie is distraught. As a…err, consolation prize, Eddie receives from a DJ friend (Gene Simmons of television's KISS in a cameo) the studio acetate of Curr’s last recording. Soon enough, Eddie is playing the record backwards and communicating with Sammi Curr from beyond the grave. To further make Tipper Gore’s worst nightmares come true, Eddie and Sammi make a pact to “get back” at all the bullies.

No one really ends up getting terribly harmed, but Eddie thinks things are getting out of hand anyway and tells Sammi their reign of lite terror needs to end. Sammi ain’t havin’ none of that, though, and decides to show up for real. Now corporeal, Sammi starts shooting Emperor Palpatine-style lightning out of his fingers and his guitar while he glowers at the camera “menacingly”. It’s up to Eddie to save the day, but how can he turn against his “rock warrior hero”?

Yeah. Trick or Treat starts out promising, and I think Marc Price does a believable job as the metalhead outcast everyone knew in high school. Once Sammi Curr starts wreaking “havoc”, though, the movie falls apart. The end is dull and drawn out as Eddie races around town destroying radios and avoiding Sammi’s glowering. Though I yearn for those sweet sweet yesterdays when our high school’s disenfranchised youth would play heavy metal records backwards and invoke the evil spirits of dead heavy metal rockers to smite their enemies instead of simply toting shotguns to school, Trick or Treat is just kind of a mess.

It’s entirely possible, however, that I avoided an even bigger mess by watching this Trick or Treat, so I suppose I should be thankful. At least the box will no longer stare at me longingly from afar.


Fatman said...

I think that's generally the problem when you summon dead rockers to do your "evil" bidding. Having received my diploma in Necromancy (thanks to a dodgy correspondence course) I decided to try out some magick in my parents' basement. Summoning Elvis turned out to be a HUGE mistake. Zombie Presley spent most of the time eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches grilled in butter, shooting the television (my television) and decomposing in the bathroom.

For all those who are attempting anything like this: don't. You'd have a better luck scaring kids by asking Gene Simmons to turn up to their house with full makeup and poking his tongue out at them.

Steve said...

The first half of this post was pure comedic gold! Gold Jerry, Gold!

SikeChick said...

I seem to remember much laughing of the out loud variety when my bud and I went and saw this lo those many years ago. I mean, dude, seriously. Skippy!

Anonymous said...

Don't you hate it when your movies get all whiny with you and start layin' down ultimatums and you gotta set 'em straight? Sheesh, I right?

Anonymous said...

This post is EXACTLY why I come here, tell people aboot this site, & etc.
This post has what was missing through out most of this years Shocktober. Stacy, I am glad you took a break & hope you are well. If I am not one of the "Final Girl Seven" then change it to the "Final Girl Eight." cause I'm in! . . . do we get special jackets because I want mine to say NITRO?!

p.s. Yes, I may say "about" out loud, but I only type "aboot."

Anonymous said...

My college roommate and I were extras in that. We got $25 and a box lunch to be blurred out teenagers in the background.

Oh, and while it wasn't directed by Orson Welles' chief cameraman, it was the directorial debut of Charles Martin Smith - Terry the Toad from American Graffiti and the guy from "Never Cry Wolf".

Anonymous said...

Awww, I love Trick or Treat (the cheesy heavy metal one). It's probably because my friends and I are all into metal and were teased a lot in high school. We watched this together and in between giggling at cheesiness, we agreed that having a resurrected member of our favorite band come to our school and kill all our tormentors with guitar solos would have been pretty sweet.

Stacie Ponder said...

I love the first half-to-two thirds of Trick or Treat. I wish the mood established had been kept throughout- the backwards record playing and devil-talk is nice. Sammi Curr turns out to be so lame, though...I mean, the dude is almost defeated by a friggin' toilet! Ragman should have been ashamed! It's still a fun late-night movie, though, and I love all that 80s metal. I'm surprised horror and metal haven't been married more on screen, really.

Al K- thanks for the kind words. I'm sorry Shocktober didn't tickle your fancy so much. Looking back, though, I think there's some gold in them thar hills! It did fall apart at the end of the month, but that's what happens when Final Girl's heart is run repeatedly over a grater and left in a tiny bowl in the middle of an empty table to dry out, harden, and turn yellow like so much old asiago. If I've learned anything at all from Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, however, (and believe me, I've learned a lot) it's that this too shall eventually pass. It's nice to have all you cyber people out there pulling for me. Things will continue to get better.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh, and zombiefodder...that is much too cool. You're like a celebrity! You should try to get a screen cap for us all to see.

Anonymous said...

that wasn't meant as a criticism of you herculean shocktober effort at all. there is gold in them hills that have eyes. stay gold, pony boy, stay gold.

the heart is the best thing to have & the worst thing to use. that's why we have fists.
i've been on the other end of the grater. but eventually someone who cares finds the bowl.
this cheesy, pretentious advice is what happens when i post sober.
no longer Al K. Haul.
just . . .

p.s. if i've learned anything from Jessica & Nick it's that people can fail upward.

Chop-a-holic said...

What's not to love about a film that had death by stereo a full year before Lost Boys? I have to admit ignorance of the original ToT you were avoiding, I'll have to flog myself with it in penance.

Amanda By Night said...

I love that the bad guy was a Solid Gold Dancer. That just rocks.

Plus Skippy is pretty awesome and I loved seeing him be something other than Skippy. Whatever became of Price?

Anonymous said...

"...people can fail upward."
That's funny stuff!

Aw, crap! I was worried that the achey breaky heart choice was the culprit....
And I wasn't even CONSIDERING the dancing!

Although, that may actually be an interesting coping strategy...
a whole high school gymnasium of broken hearted people, all dancing to Billy Ray Cyrus, with an unlimited supply of crappy snack foods and beverages, and everybody receives a complimentary grieving mullet, which you can wear (there's an elastic) or fold gently and keep with your snotty hanky in your pocket.
Because, you know, "misery loves... to, uh, groove together."

But no one can go home with anybody!
This particular therapy is designed to fix one emotional problem, not start new ones!

You dance, eat, find solace in your faux mullet* and several days later, you move on...
...and sell your cool wares like a MOTHERFUCKER at the next Comic Book Con! Yes!
Cue inspirational NON-Billy Ray Cyrus music!

PS. More comforting info to consider: according to Wikipedia, which helped me in amassing my therapeutic research here today, Mr. Cyrus also appeared as "Gene, the pool guy" in David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DRIVE.
Okay, maybe "comforting" is subjective here...

*for those who prefer to find solace more in private, for your consideration:
No, really, you have to check this out...

SikeChick said...

I'm surprised horror and metal haven't been married more on screen, really.

Dude! "We're the dream warriors! Ain't gonna dream no more!" Sorry, but I do love that cheesetastic song.

You know, you're right. I wouldn't call the cacophony of guitar noises they use in most horror flicks now 'metal', I don't care what the band making that noise says.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and zombiefodder...that is much too cool. You're like a celebrity! You should try to get a screen cap for us all to see.

My Big Debut

Oh, and thanks to you, I recently had my second bid at big-screen extradom. I was a zombie in the indie horror "The Forever Dead." I found out about them when you mentioned that they were raising money via eBay back in the spring.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're on top of this, but I was just wondering if you've seen the new one sheet for the "Black Christmas" remake and it's comparison to the original over at, any thoughts?


Dusk said...

It's called Trick or Treats as opposed to treat, those pesky tail-end S's will get you ever time!

Oh, and your review killed Gary Graver.

Stacie Ponder said...

Cattle- I love the idea of a room full of line dancing broken-hearted people. It's really the most pathetic yet somehow sweet image EVER. And yes, I LOVE that BR Cyrus is in Mulholland Drive. It just adds more bizarreness to a frickin Lynch film.

zombie- Ah! The crazy chase scene! Too cool. I like, your manager now? :)

sike- Thanks alot. Now Dokken is stuck in my head!

dusk- so much agonizing because of one damn typo on a video box!