The 80s Dark Horror Comedy With Two Legends Of Heavy Metal

By Brian Myers | Published

The wave of terror that overtook many parents during the Satanic Panic paranoia of the 1980s didn’t just create hysterical scrutiny on role-playing games, rock music, and movies. In multiple instances, the fear of the Devil finding a path to a child’s soul through different forms of entertainment was the dominant theme of films. These ridiculous fears were mocked in the 1986 film Trick or Treat, which brought together heavy metal icons Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons in unforgettable roles.

Gene Simmons As A Radio DJ

Trick or Treat follows high school loser Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer, a metalhead with few friends. Eddie idolizes metal icon Sammi Curr and is devastated when the music legend dies in a mysterious hotel fire. Eddie has befriended an old friend of Curr’s, radio DJ Nuke (played by Gene Simmons), who gives him a gift to remember Curr by.

Nuke hands Eddie the master copy of Curr’s final album, which hasn’t been released. But when Eddie takes it home and plays it backward, all Hell starts to break loose. Under the influence of evil, Trick or Treat sees Eddie become a pawn for revenge that targets his entire high school.

Ozzy Osbourne As A Televangelist

As a film, Trick or Treat‘s contribution lies in how it successfully makes a mockery of overbearing parents and paranoid religious zealots who took to the airwaves to blame society’s ills on music and film. One great jab at the Satanic Panic syndrome was casting Ozzy Osbourne in the role of a televangelist who was on screen ranting about the evils of rock music. Osbourne, in real life, was sued in court in 1984 after the parents of 19-year-old John Daniel McCollum shot himself, an act that McCollum’s parents alleged was due to the lyrics of Osbourne’s 1980 song “Suicide Solution.” The case was dismissed.

Special Effects From A Horror Legend

Aside from the relevant social messaging of Trick or Treat, the film’s other notable component was the creature effects by special effects genius Keven Yagher. Yagher’s team went on to create the Crypt Keeper in Tales from the Crypt, and their touches in Trick or Treat helped elevate the horror to a different level.

A Sitcom Guest Star Turned Leading Man

Trick or Treat isn’t the best horror film of the decade, though it remains an important one for the stance it took against Satanic Panic. The acting is sub-par, particularly from lead actor Marc Price, whose only other notable screen credits up to that point was a recurring role on the sitcom Family Ties. Price played Skippy to perfection, but believably portraying a metalhead just wasn’t in his wheelhouse.

Hard To Find Today


All things considered, Trick or Treat is worthy of 2.0/5.0 stars. Though the rating is low, the film belongs cemented in cinematic history as one that mocked the claims that paranoid Americans bleated about rock music instead of leaning into it. Trick or Treat isn’t the first film that was a result of Satanic Panic, but unlike the laughable 1982 Tom Hanks film Mazes and Monsters, it chose to fight the insanity rather than capitalizing on it.

Trick or Treat isn’t widely available. Currently, the only service that allows movie streaming is Screambox.