Trick or Treat: the Movie That Got Me through My Sophomore Year

For about a year in high school, Trick or Treat (a low budget horror movie dealing with heavy metal) was the most important movie in my life. My family had moved to a one-horse town where the main activity for teenagers was “cruising,” driving around aimlessly in cars and grouping in parking lots, trying to arrange meeting spots or procure alcohol.

I was a heavy metal kid, and there was a very small contingent of these people at my new school. They were harder to pick out than at my last high school, where there was a definite heavy metal uniform and no way of mistaking your affiliation. In this new town, I might see some longish hair and a T-shirt for a heavy metal band. But this might just mean that they liked the band. What I was interested in was did they live for the music? No-compromising dress and hair was an indicator for me that they did. It took awhile to get to know people, and I was called a few names and even told point-blank by one junior girl in study hall (who I’m sure had the best intentions) that I would have to change my hair and dress if I wanted to get along with people.

I don’t know anyone who comes out of that age unscathed. It’s the cruelest time, I think, because you are ruled by your peers. You haven’t learned how to behave or think in nuances yet and are controlled by galloping hormones to boot. Junior high and high school seems to be one big Lord of the Flies, and I congratulate anyone who makes it out alive—really, it feels like a war sometimes. Luckily we are given a few tools to make those years more bearable—music, books, and movies, and the heroes that are born of them.

In those dark days of being the new kid in a place that didn’t see this too often, I was dependent on my stereo and a stack of black VCR tapes on which me and my sister had recorded horror movies from cable channels. Our favorite movie at this time was Trick or Treat starring Marc Price (of Family Ties fame) as Eddie Weinbauer, the awkward heavy metal kid at his high school. He’s a fuckup and teased mercilessly by the popular clique, but that’s okay because he’s got his rock god Sammi Curr, who happens to come from the exact same town but got out. Looking a lot like Nikki Sixx circa mid-1980s, Sammi Curr has made it big in heavy metal and taken on legislative groups similar to the PMRC—remember that one?


It’s easy to forget that heavy metal once scared the shit out of people and that’s what Trick or Treat plays on—those long-ago fears that if you played a Judas Priest record backwards you would be compelled to commit suicide or sell your soul to the devil. Eddie understands what heavy metal really is, though—it’s borrowed power for when you’re feeling weak and vulnerable.


Eddie writes to his hero Sammi Curr and is able to minimize his high school bullying because Curr gets him through it. He signs off his letters with Ragman, the heavy metal identity he’s created for himself, but then he discovers that Curr has perished in a hotel fire.

There are a few cameos in Trick or Treat by heavy metal icons, and to look at the DVD cover you might think that Ozzy Osbourne (as a reverend) and Gene Simmons (as a DJ named Nuke) are the stars of this movie. Between the two of them, though, they share maybe seven minutes tops. They are funny minutes with Osbourne mimicking the groups that came after him, parsing his lyrics to show the moral depravity in them. And Nuke helps to put the plot of Trick or Treat in action.


Nuke is friends with Eddie, and out of fan love, he gives him Sammi Curr’s unreleased record, which he plans on playing publicly for the first time on Halloween eve. Somewhat consoled, Eddie takes it home and falls asleep listening to it. That’s when he discovers that there are hidden messages on the record that tell him how to get even with the kids that pick on him. Within a week of listening to and following those messages, Eddie goes from powerless to powerful.

The role of Sammi Curr (both pre-fire and after he is conjured by the backward-playing record) was originally supposed to go to Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. It ended up going to Tony Fields instead, a former Solid Gold dancer of all things—how un­–heavy metal is that? He’s not bad as the satanic rocker—there’s a real sense of evil and menace that comes off him in the early part of the movie, but by the end, the movie’s devolved into camp and that scare is over.


That wasn’t what appealed to me that sophomore year, though. It was the idea that I could make heads roll when I felt least able.


Osbourne’s Voice Comes through Loud and Clear in “I Am Ozzy”

One of my young life regrets is that I never got to see Ozzy Osbourne in concert, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I remember having tickets to his concerts twice, but both times they were canceled and I was left feeling bitterly disappointed. This was in the late eighties when Ozzy was struggling with addiction (actually, when has he not?), and I believe both of those times he was shipped directly to rehab. Then I read I Am Ozzy and found out that the infamous bat head incident happened in Iowa, where I ended up doing time in high school.

This happened before I moved there, and Ozzy was doing a show in Des Moines (which he remembers how to pronounce to this day). His concerts had become known as free-for-alls where members of the audience would bring various things from home—a pig’s head, snakes, and in this case, a live bat—and throw them onstage while he performed. During this show, Ozzy caught the bat, and he thought it was one of those rubber jobs you can buy at a toy store or 99-cent store. So he did what any self-respecting rock star would do and bit its head off. The noxious taste let him know his mistake immediately, and afterward, he had to get a full course of rabies shots while on the road touring. The public will never let him forget this, and after that I don’t think Ozzy has pleasant associations with Iowa, so I guess I forgive him for canceling those shows.

In I Am Ozzy, Ozzy digs deep, going back to his early childhood in England where he played in bombed-out ruins and lived in a house with an outhouse in the yard and one bedroom that the next-oldest sibling would graduate to after the eldest flew the coop (he was one of six children). Ozzy had terrible learning disabilities that were overlooked in school, and he was just told that he was stupid. He was also bullied by his headmaster, but there Ozzy learned a trick that’s served him well to this day. He would pull crazy stunts and tricks to make people laugh, especially those that he admired or who were big bullies. Once he got that laugh, he knew he was in and then their attributes and protection would rain down on him.

Where he grew up, Ozzy saw the men go into work every day and toil away at the most boring industrial jobs (not calling in was a point of pride), and then once these men retired, they didn’t know what to do with themselves. Many of them died shortly after they retired, including his father. As a teen, Ozzy did a stint testing car horns and working in a slaughterhouse (he says he has bad animal karma from this time in his life and that’s why his family has so many pets now), but he knew this wasn’t what he was meant for. He just couldn’t do it, and so he found another way—what some people would think the least likely way—and became a rock star.

Ozzy credits his early success to his father who for some unknown reason lent his son money to buy an amp. An amp was a luxury in those days, and anybody who had one, whether they were a musician or not—well, that made them immediately in the band. With his amp, Ozzy advertised himself as a singer and that’s how he landed in the band that became Black Sabbath. It’s amazing when he recounts how the band cranked out some of their classic albums with only a few hours’ worth of studio time. When you have limited time and a budget, you do what you have to, to get things done. Black Sabbath caught on pretty quickly, but there were a few hiccups along the way, like the time they were booked because club owners thought they were an all-black band. I would love to have been present at that club date!

With success and money, Ozzy’s appetite for booze and drugs grew. Where before he could only drink until he ran out of money, now he had a limitless supply, so he would go to the pub and be gone for literally days. During this time Ozzy was in his first marriage, but he was in full addict mode and did things like shoot all the chickens that his wife bought for him to take care of and almost killed the town vicar by accidentally feeding him cake laced with a potent dose of hash.

His first marriage failed, and he was kicked out of Black Sabbath, because while everybody was drinking and drugging, they felt Ozzy’s was too out of control and interfering with the band. That’s when Sharon came into the picture and became Ozzy’s manager. She was determined to turn him into a solo act, and with a few unplanned stunts by Ozzy, his career took off brilliantly. They also became something more, the match made in heaven that we all know now, and started a family on the road.

Some people complain that they can’t understand Ozzy when he talks, like in this infamous interview where he scrambles some eggs in his leopard-print bathrobe:

But when he sings, all of Ozzy’s lyrics are comprehensible, and if you really try, you can understand him. If you don’t want to try, his voice and humor come through loud and clear in I Am Ozzy. A lot of his stories are laugh-out-loud-funny, and I get the feeling that Ozzy is much more clever than he lets on. I think part of his appeal is that he plays the part of the fuckup, the ne’er-do-well, but by doing that he gets what he wants. My grandpa used to do the same thing by pretending to be deaf. Eventually people would get so frustrated with him that they would give him whatever he wanted just to get rid of him. It’s fun to think of my grandpa having a little bit of Ozzy in him.