Retrospective: 35 Years Since the Ultimate Heavy Metal Horror Film ‘Trick or Treat’ By Jesse Striewski

Loud heavy metal guitars shooting lightning. Backwards subliminal messaging. And humpty dumpty exploding from a second story rafter. These are just a few of the things one gets from 1986’s Trick or Treat, the ultimate outcast horror film, and quite possibly, the best of its kind.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith and originally released on October 24 of that same year, it followed teenage rebel Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer (played by Marc Price of Family Ties fame), a high school metalhead fed up with his jock bullies (lead by Doug Savant). When his rock n’ roll idol Sammi Curr (played by the late Tony Fields) dies unexpectedly, his world is thrown through a loop.

But thanks to a local DJ named Nuke (played brilliantly by KISS bassist Gene Simmons in his best Wolfman Jack impression), he’s given the last known recording by Curr. Upon playing the record backwards, he soon finds he has the power to communicate with – and even bring back from the dead – Curr. At first Curr aids Ragman in standing up to his tormentors, only to regret it when things quickly become deadly.

Ragman is then tasked with stopping Curr’s destructive path, and sets out to do just that with the help of some friends; the nerdy best friend Roger (Glen Morgan), and the lovely young maiden he has a crush on, Leslie (Lisa Orgolini). This eventually leads to a huge showdown at the high school Halloween dance, and the ensuing carnage make for some of the film’s best moments.

Hands down the music is one of standouts of the entire film. Rock supergroup Fastway, which originally featured ex-Motorhead and UFO members ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Pete Way, respectively (as well as future Flogging Molly frontman Dave King) provided the soundtrack that acts as Curr’s music, and composer Christopher Young adds an extra eerie layer with his score (special effects wizard Kevin Yagher also cameos at the high school dance as one of the band members). And aside from Simmons’ previously mentioned cameo, there’s even a brief appearance by the one and only Ozzy Osbourne as a televangelist. I’ve been lucky enough to personally see Simmons, Osbourne, and even King all perform in concert since the film’s release (see photo below).

I can vividly recall watching Trick or Treat for the first time at one of those middle or high school sleepovers where someone brought a VHS copy they rented at the local video store. Not too far off from the character of Ragman myself at the time, I was easily able to relate to the film’s material, and have been a lifelong fan ever since. So if you’re staying in this Halloween and looking for something festive to watch that perhaps you haven’t seen before, fire up the old VCR, and get ready to Trick or Treat!

Gene Simmons (who appeared in the film as “Nuke”) performing on stage with KISS in Tampa, FL on 7/28/12 (photo courtesy of author’s personal collection).

A Tribute to Motorhead Guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke

Fast Eddie

Earlier this month, the metal world lost the sole remaining member of Motorhead’s ‘classic’ late ’70s lineup, which also consisted of founding Vocalist/Bassist Lemmy Kilmister, and drummer  Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, who both passed in 2015. Clarke joined his fallen brothers this past January 10 after complications from phenomena.

Clarke was born in Middlesex, England on October 5, 1950, and began playing guitar in his early teens. After experiencing limited success playing with several local acts, he joined the already-established Motorhead in 1976.  He wrote and recorded with the band beginning with their self-titled 1977 debut album, up to 1982’s Iron Fist. Over the course of his six years in the band, he helped pen some of their most signature tracks,  including “Motorhead,” “Overkill,” “Bomber,” and “Ace of Spades.”

After his departure from Motorhead, he formed Fastway in 1982. Perhaps best remembered for recording the soundtrack to the 1986 horror film Trick or Treat, Clarke kept Fastway going through various lineup changes into the early ’90s, resurrecting it on-and-off over the years and releasing their seventh (and most recent) album, Eat Dog Eat, in 2011.

Though he may be gone, the spirit of Eddie Clarke will continue to live on each and every time the guitar intro for “Ace of Spades” kicks off. Clarke managed to leave an imprint that many of us can only dream of in his sixty-seven years on this Earth, and his legacy will not be forgotten any time soon.