dorkin’ out about movies, part 3:Trick or Treat

I enjoy collecting and reading moral-panic literature from the ’80s, especially the stuff pertaining to heavy metal and the damage it does to Our Children. Oh no! Listening to Slayer will make your apple-cheeked young tots fuck corpses and drink blood! Holy balls! I’ve been listening to Slayer for years and have yet to dabble in necrophilia, but I guess that just makes me a slouch.

Sometimes, the authors will talk a little bit about backwards masking as they work themselves all up about the dangers of rock and/or roll music. For those of you who don’t read these kinds of things for fun, backwards masking is where you record something (“Hail Satan,” “Kill yourself,” “Pork chops 2 for $4.99”) that you want subliminally implanted in the minds of your listeners, then sneak it onto your records, but backwards. When some chump plays the record, the message (hidden by the backwards-ing so that it just sounds like garbled noise) will leave him/her with a strong desire to worship Satan, or commit suicide, or buy pork chops. Fucking ridiculous, of course, but something that was taken quite seriously by a surprising amount of people back in the day, and this concept forms the backbone of the amazing 1986 movie Trick or Treat (not to be confused with the more recent Trick ‘r’ Treat).

The film centers around high school misfit Eddie Weinbauer, who becomes distraught after his favorite rock icon, Sammi Curr (played by some dude who is trying very hard to look like Blackie Lawless) dies in a hotel fire. But wait! All is not lost! Eddie’s DJ pal (played by Gene Simmons, sans makeup) gives him the last album ever recorded by Curr. Eddie falls asleep with it playing, notices some odd noises, and gives it an experimental backwards spin. Oh SHIT! That sounds like Curr’s voice, giving him instructions on how to get revenge on the jock-holes who steal his tapes and his prized denim vest! At first Eddie is delighted with his new undead rocker pal, but when Curr starts going after Eddie’s mom, his special lady friend, and damn near everyone in town, he realizes things may be getting a little out of control.

This movie features such choice lines as:
“Did the headbanger bang his head?”
“Do you think I’m a puss, Weinbauer? Do you think I’m a wussy fucking weaktit?”
“Yes, it’s an extreme emergency! EXTREMELY EXTREME!”
ALSO: Ozzy Osbourne plays a televangelist.

It’s not fine film-making by any means, though the attention to detail as far as the decor in Eddie’s room is quite impressive (hey, it’s a Defenders of the Faith flag! And that’s Megadeth’s Killing is My Business…and Business is Good! in his stack of records!). The soundtrack is by ex-Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke’s band, Fastway. I was less than impressed, although I did note with some amusement that their singer, Dave King, went on to be in Flogging Molly. (Why keep it metal when you can gain fame and fortune ripping off the Pogues?)

I don’t really have any deep analytical reasons for liking this movie – it’s just fun trash. I mean, a dude comes back from the dead and kills people via guitar solo. A lady takes her clothes off at the urging of a weird green sex-mist that issues from a tape of Curr’s album. Ozzy Osbourne wears a suit and tie and talks about how immoral modern music is (“What happened to the good old love songs?!). What more could you want?

For a more serious take on the backwards-masking kerfuffle, I recommend Dream Deceivers, a documentary on the Judas Priest suicide lawsuit. An anthropology professor at my college used to show this in his class on American subcultures, and I can see why: despite the low budget and rather short length, you can glean a lot from it about the the connections between bands and fans and how people use music in their lives. It won’t embed for some reason, but you can watch it on Google Video here.

also, I just bought Kill ‘Em All on vinyl. Eff yeah.

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~ by Smellen on May 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “dorkin’ out about movies, part 3:Trick or Treat

  1. I remember seeing a Christian-moral-panic pamphlet some time in the late 80s titled something like Dungeons and Dragons…Will Blow Your Mind Apart!, which made me chuckle – someone should put together an online collection of the more ridiculous ones. Do contemporary fundamentalists get upset in the same way about WoW, I wonder, or are they too busy looking for pro-Satan messages in Harry Potter?

    I also remember the PMRC lady who shows up in The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part II: The Metal Years who’s really quite serious about the moral danger posed by metal and its associated subculture. (Fine if slightly depressing film, in case you’ve not seen it – best bits are Ozzy and Dave Mustaine)

    • You know, I haven’t seen much fundamentalist panic about WoW. Surprising, I think, considering how they lost their shit over D&D. I did find an article on Focus on the Family’s website which mentions that it can be “spiritually unhealthy” if you play it (or Second Life) too much, but they aren’t saying that you can learn black magic from it or anything. The Harry Potter thing is just as hilarious, though.

      I haven’t seen Decline… part 2 yet (I didn’t even get around to part 1, even in my punk rocker heyday). I did like the lady in Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey who was all grossed out by the Cannibal Corpse album cover and the impact it would have on The Children. I have my own set of issues with that band, but they differ considerably from hers, I’d imagine. I mean, I saw the cover of The Wretched Spawn and thought “Big deal. It just looks like an illustration of what having my period feels like.”

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