As a proud fan of both the horror movie and the devil's own heavy metal music, I guess it was inevitable that a rock themed night would occur at Zombie Club. Given our voracious appetite for dodgy movies from the 80s, it was just as inevitable that we should kick off with Charles Martin Smith's Trick or Treat from 1986, a movie which wisely capitalised on all that devil worship business way back in the days of bad hair and the Ford XR3i.
Next up is the film equivalent to something you would scrape off your shoe, and I'm not talking about chewing gum. Although that's quite annoying, too. Blood Tracks is a Swedish Hills Have Eyes rip-off which underwhelmed me as a teenager, just as it failed to impress on many levels tonight. Apart from all the naked chicks, that is.
Tonight's Zombie Club was bought to you by Zomblee, in association with lots of hairspray and the TDK D-90 Appreciation Society
Trick or Treat (1986)
Plot Rock fan resurructs evil Rock God Sammi Curr
Zomblee This movie must have faired pretty well upon its release back in 1986. It took the then-contemporary appetite for both 80s hair metal, the devil-worship debate that surrounded it at the time, and the brainless, teen-ridden horror film and merged them inside one of Seth Brundle's telepods, thus creating the film we commonly refer to as Trick or Treat. But is it a treat? Kind of, yes - hell, we've certainly seen a lot worse here at ZC.
Young metal head 'Ragman' is an outcast at school, targeted by the bigger lads who bully him for being his own guy and having a different haircut, and the girls don't seem to like him either. But Ragman finds solace in music - particularly the music of hellraising singer Sammy Curr. But when Sammi raises hell a little too much he dies in a fire, and Ragman's world falls apart, which is when local radio DJ Gene Simmons gives him a test pressing of Sammi's unreleased album. Ragman then manages to release Sammi's unruly shock 'n' roll spirit from the acetate pressing, thus manifesting Sammi physically, who then takes revenge on the angsty teen's aggressors. Unfortunately for Ragman, Sammi seems hell bent on unfurling his destructive hellfire at the upcoming school Halloween party, so it's up to our young headbanger to stop him in his fiery tracks.
When teen horror is done well it's a pleasure to watch. Obviously this doesn't seem quite the movie it did back in '86, but taken for face value it's simplistic charms prove quite difficult to resist, just like so many of those other movies you remember from the 80s. Ragman's plight is fairly well presented and successfully counterpointed by his friends such as his nerdy mate and the chick who invites him to the 'pool party' ("Wow! I don't get invited to pool parties like that!" - Jim). Look out also for the famous cameos by an almost articulate Ozzy Osbourne as a televangelist and Gene Simmons, who excels as the local radio DJ (Gene should have done more acting - he was outstanding in Runaway and Wanted Dead or Alive).
Following the traditional teen horror movie formula, the story arcs towards a party / dance / prom-set finale, and this is where undead rock idol Curr takes the stage and proceeds to literally blow kids away with his guitar ("Now that's an electric guitar!" - Rawshark). Jim wasn't so convinced though, rightfully accusing the silly teens of not knowing an undead threat when they see one: "Has no-one noticed he has half a face missing?"
Of course, no heavy metal horror movie would be complete without a scorching rock soundtrack, this time courtesy of 'Fast' Eddie Clarke's post-Motorhead band, Fastway. These fiendishly clever songs complement Ragman's emotional state throughout, e.g. when he's bullied to breaking point at school, the song goes, "It's time to get tough, this boy's had enough...", and so on. Heavy metal heaven. Or maybe not.
"You're the bait. The bait is you."
Rawshark Ah – 1986, the glory days of true down and dirty heavy metal. A time when it was ”them against us”, and we could count on the likes of Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest for our musical courage to rebel against all that school had to offer! Long hair, leather jackets, studded wristbands, and felt-tip drawn band logos all over our canvas brown satchels. Fuck yeah!
Eddie (Ragman) Weinbauer in Trick or Treat also has Sammi Curr as his Rock God / Saviour, but when Curr is killed in a house fire, Eddie goes a bit mental and cries a bit. Luckily, kindly DJ Gene Simmons is on hand to give Eddie the ‘only vinyl copy’ of Sammi’s last recorded song – a track he plans to play at midnight on Halloween. Can you see what’s coming yet?
Of course, as soon as Eddie gets home, he starts playing the record backwards and all hell breaks loose. Curr returns from the grave, and a weird ectoplasm thing attacks the girlfriend of one of the school bullies (Zomblee - ”Uh-oh, Ectoplasm headphones”, Jim – ”Ectoplasm undressing her”, Zomblee - ”Ectoplasm on breasts”, Jim - ”Do you reckon the knickers are going to come off as well?”). Obviously, Tim wasn’t too happy to return to the car and find his girl naked and dead with melted ears.
Actually, Trick or Treat is a lot more fun than you’d think, with a pretty good performance from Marc Price in the lead (a little like a rockier, more angsty version of Marty McFly in Back to the Future), and a balletic rock god approach from dancer Tony Fields as the demonic Sammi Curr. Ozzy’s cameo is very amusing (just how spaced out was he in ‘86?) and Glen Morgan plays a cool sidekick who sort of saves the day and pleased the other guys watching (Jim - ”Well done Roger”, ”Yeah, Roger’s great” - Zomblee). It all ends at a big Halloween rock ball with lightning-zapping electric guitars, great deaths (”I love a smoking boot” - Jim) and the director Charles Martin Smith making a cameo as head teacher Mr Wimbley. Brilliant.
”Do you think I’m a wussy fucking weak tit?”
Jim Alright, now this is how I remember the 80s! Okay, so I wasn’t as big a rocker as the other guys, and maybe I related more to Marty McFly than Eddie ‘Ragman’ Weinbauer, but a lot of my mates were rock boys, and I remember Trick Or Treat like it was yesterday. Well kinda, at least I remember the video cover very well indeed, as this was one of those flicks that I very nearly always rented. You know what I mean.
Anyway, the boys have explained through what happened in this one so I don’t need to go over that, but I will point out a couple of things they didn’t tell you about. After the first time Eddie invokes Sammi’s spirit through that magical LP ("He's playing the record and it's invoking Sammy's spirit, I guess" - Rawshark) the record tells him to get revenge on those jocks for teasing him ("Revenge... it's the 80s!" - Zomblee). So he sets up an elaborate collection of traps and pitfalls around the school (marbles, slippery floors, that kind of thing - "He’s set all this up, he's good!" - Rawshark), then taunts the jocks and lets them chase him past them all, which is actually very funny, especially the bit in the library where they’re not allowed to run ("That's brilliant, they're all walking really fast through the library." - Rawshark)
Apart from that, this was just one of those nights where I could quote the guys endlessly, but it would make little sense to the uninitiated. Like Zomblee’s "The unsuitability of this soundtrack is rivalled only by Savage Streets!" and "Whenever I see boobs I always look at the clock counter.". Rawshark was also riffing heavily, with lines like "This movie rocks!" and "I hope he doesn't get arrested with his jacket on fire coz then he'll be in trouble for possessing a firearm." letting no one down at all, providing you can cope with very bad jokes.
All in all Trick or Treat was a lot more fun than we expected it to be and I’d recommend it to any 80s horror fans that like their rock and like to see ectoplasm on tits. I bet that’s a lot of you.
"Rocks chosen warrior is nothing more than a fucking wimp poser!"
Director Charles Martin Smith
Cast Marc Price
Runtime 98 mins
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Blood Tracks (1985)
Plot A Swedish The Hills Have Eyes in a snow-swept disused factory.
Jim And without further ado we moved straight on to the next film, the 80s Swedish Rock'n'Roll horror of Blood Tracks. It opens with a flashback to 40 years ago, with something about a murder, some family getting blamed and the whole lot of them going on the run. Then it cuts to the present day where we soon discover the family has gone all feral - Hills Have Eyes style - and that they live right near this cabin where 80s Swedish rock band 'Solid Gold' have just arrived to film their latest smash video.
And you can guess the rest, or at least you probably could if you have experience of watching 80s Swedish Rock'n'Roll horror. That is to say, I don't really remember any of it enough to actually report objectionally what happened. And that's not for want of trying - I really did - I just couldn't follow a lot of it.
Okay, I was with them when they first arrived, but they did start moaning about the conditions very early. ("They've only just got there, they're fucking wimps!" - Zomblee). Then a couple decided to make out in a car when there was an avalanche going on, the car got completely engulfed in snow, and the band and crew had to dig them out with spades. To be fair though, I probably only remember that scene because the girl got pulled out of the car completely naked, and she's naked again later actually, which I also remember. Funny that.
"I quite like the soundtrack sometimes," said Zomblee hopefully, which is about how desperate we got. Rawshark to his credit also tried hard to get in to the proceedings, but "I had the inclination then to put a 'Z' in Susie." was about all he could manage early on. Near the end he perked up when someone said the chopper was coming, as that meant "the weather must have moved from zero-zero!", which probably makes little sense if you haven't seen the movie. I'll let him explain that one.
"Get the flares out, I'll set the chopper!"
Rawshark Well, the thing is that they were unable to get the chopper to come and rescue the spoilt rich Rock Gods and their groupies early on because ”the weather’s zero-zero”. What zero-zero means I don’t know (zero visibility / zero plot?), but when they finally did manage to get the chopper to come in and rescue the one or two survivors left at the end of the film, it obviously meant that the weather was no longer ”zero-zero”. So there you go.
Anyway, in all honesty, Blood Tracks is a bit of a white-out really. The film starts with a random drunk guy who stumbles into a house seemingly looking for some cutlery or something. The family murder him, run away, and hide in the hills for 40 years. Cut to modern day, and Easy Action arrive on the mountainside to have wild sex, take drugs, drink lots of alcohol, shoot a rock video, oh, and get picked off one by one by the insane hillbilly family. Dave the sound recordist is first to go as he tries to get a clean sound of the avalanche (after it’s happened - eh?), but his equipment is found by the girl with ”the strange torch” (Zomblee) and she takes it back to the cabin. There the rest of the group listen to the recording of Dave’s death and go and get the CB with ”the big wobbly aerial” (Zomblee) which distracted us every time it appeared on screen until we literally lost the plot, however slight it may have been in the first place.
Ok, so as this is a Swedish horror film there is a lot of nudity, but even that doesn’t save what is essentially a cheap exploitative rip-off of The Hills Have Eyes. The murderous family look ridiculous, a bit like Hulk Hogan (The Hills Have Hogans?), the heroes are all dull and vapid, and there are far too many ‘chase sequences’ that go nowhere. Once for yes, twice for no – twice, no, but an extra half star for lots of breasts.
“No chance of getting a chopper in – the weather’s zero-zero”.
Zomblee "Brilliant, she's naked!", shouted a clearly happy Rawshark when the fornicating Swedes emerged from the snow-covered car, thereby giving them liscence to do what everyone else in this third grade Hills rip-off does - whinge. They really are a pathetic group of big haired rock soldiers, and extremely irritating, their only endearing asset being an occasional urge to get the chicks a bit naked and make out ("It's either sex, or rock. Or just rock hair do's." - Jim).
Out of sheer boredom, we did find interest in how extraordinarily long the walkie-talkie antenna is - this thing was ridiculous! In some scenes you could tell the guy who was holding the walkie-talkie was in the room even though he wasn't in the actual shot, because this huge, bendy antenna was waving about all over the place, no doubt trying to receive some plot details over the airwaves. It didn't pick up much of a plot, but some guy who looks a bit like Gunner Hansen does come to the rescue in his helicopter, though I don't think that has anything to do with the walkie-talkie with the big antenna - probably more to do with the local police who hear rumours of a "film unit" and then decide to investigate. They shouldn't have bothered.
Not scary. Not funny. Not well made at all. Dull as dirty snow and insanely inane, this is what happens when you spend a budget on hairspray instead of good writers. But - and it's almost difficult to admit this - we've probably seen worse here at ZC.
"You ought to try it - snow on the naked body is so stimulating."
Director Mats Helge and Derek Ford
Cast Jeff Harding
Runtime 81 mins
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Conclusion Trick or Treat was directed by one Charles Martin Smith, whose face you will recognise from his memorable roles from The Untouchables, American Graffitti, and Starman. An accomplished and respected actor, he has also turned his hand to writing and even music composition, though I'm unsure if he likes heavy metal. Let's hope so.
At the time of writing, the plot of Blood Tracks had still not been located, and sources claim that it might never had existed to begin with.
See you next time for Jim's Barbarian Night, where i plan on wearing a pair of really nice sandals. And maybe even a skimpy loincloth.
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Comedy Zombie Night 7th Sep 07 It seems our good old flesh-hungry undead friends are back in fashion, so what better time for the return of zombies to Zombie Club.
27th Jun 05 If there is any kind of discernable message in White Noise, it’s don’t mess around with EVP. Point taken. It’s a confusing film and I’m really sorry to say that Keaton’s performance is flat, dull, disappointing