Eddie (Marc Price) is a troubled teenager who finds comfort in heavy metal music, writing long letters to his idol, rocker Sammi Curr (Tony Fields), which he signs "Ragman". Eddie is bullied at school, and believes he has no chance with popular girl Leslie (Lisa Orgolini), but when she sees him humiliated in the gym, she feels sorry for him and decides to help. However, Eddie is about to be struck a blow as he is putting his clothes into the washing machine and notices that there is an article about Sammi on the television news. He is delighted to see him attempting to get the right to play a concert at his old high school, which coincidentally happens to be Eddie's high school, but then the bombshell drops: Sammi has died in a hotel fire...
The meeting of heavy metal and horror seems an obvious one with all the morbid imagery and rebellious poses both entail, but oddly it's not a union that has produced much in the way of memorable cinema, perhaps because of the relentlessly teenage concerns it uses to pose its way through unimaginative plotting. Trick or Treat was written by Michael S. Murphey and Joel Soisson from Rhet Topham's story and settles down to draw the lines between metal and devil worship, specifically using that typically eighties scare/urban myth of messages being hidden in the records.
Yes, play that vinyl backwards and you're likely to get an unwanted visit from an evil entity, and that's what happens when Eddie gets a gift from a sympathetic DJ at the local station. It's Sammi Curr's last ever recording, and as the DJ (played by KISS man Gene Simmons in a small role) has already taken a copy of it on tape, to be broadcast at Hallowe'en, Eddie is allowed to take the record home. When he does, what do you know? There's a backwards message on it, and it's not long before the spirit of Sammi is talking to his young fan through his music - literally.
Heavy metal and alienation go together too, so at first this set up seems a way to get back at the bullies, and indeed that's how Eddie uses it after being nearly drowned at a pool party (and saved by Leslie) and looking for revenge. An elaborate chase is set up which culminates in the bullies accidentally setting off a fire extinguisher in the direction of the school board, but this makes them want to repay Eddie's favour in kind. However, the spirit of Sammi makes the head bully Tim (Doug Savant) nearly suffer a nasty incident in the metalwork room. So it goes, but when Eddie gives Tim a tape of the album and the sound of it puts his girlfriend in hospital, Eddie starts having second thoughts.
Trick or Treat seems to be offering a straight horror in the vein of Carrie-with-a-bloke, but there are hints of knowing humour there too, with the casting of Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne turning up on TV as a preacher complaining about heavy metal music (do you see what they did there?). Occasionally there will be an amusing gag, such as Eddie's best friend Roger (future writer, producer and director Glen Morgan) having to hoover up the dusty remains of a talk show guest Sammi has pulled out of the TV, but mostly this trundles along in the way you'd imagine, with a reincarnated, electrically powered Sammi causing chaos at the high school and eventually around the town. Although possibly unique in using a flushing toilet as a weapon to tackle its baddie, the film could have done with a more stuff like this, but if you're nostalgic for eighties horror and metal, then this should serve you well. Music by Christopher Young and Fastway.