A cult classic from 1982, Trick or Treats is a horror movie that has been remade twice in the past 20 years. The latest remake, which was released on Blu-ray and DVD last week, stars Danielle Harris as a teenager who’s terrorized by the members of her family.
Trick or Treats is a 1982 American horror film directed by Michael Dougherty and written by Dan O’Bannon. The film tells the story of five children who are terrorized by a man dressed as a clown on Halloween night. It stars John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Pee-Wee Herman in his first credited role.
Despite a rambling storyline and some strange writing, Trick or Treats is a fairly entertaining little Halloween slasher that attempts to follow John Carpenter’s Halloween template but adds all sorts of other ingredients to make things interesting.
On Halloween night, a man who was committed to an insane hospital years ago escapes and comes home, only to discover that his wife is gone for the night, replaced by a babysitter and a child.
Malcolm (Peter Jason) is deceived by his wife Joan (Carrie Snodgress) on a normal day before work when two guys storm in and put him in a straightjacket, sending him strait to the psych ward. It doesn’t matter if Malcolm is mad or not; what matters is that he becomes insane in the facility where he plots his escape and vengeance for years. Malcolm seizes his chance on Halloween night, hitting a nurse over the head, stealing her clothing, and fleeing into the night in drag. Meanwhile, his wife Joan has gone on with a new spouse (David Carradine), but their son Christopher (Chris Graver, who steals the show) has grown into a naughty adolescent. Joan and her husband have hired a babysitter called Linda (Jacqueline Giroux) to look after their child while they attend a Halloween party, but Linda has no clue what she’s in for when she arrives. Every few minutes, Christopher plays pranks on Linda, ranging from little hand buzzer jokes to full-blown suicide pranks, such as pretending to be drowned face down in the pool, all in the hopes of getting a laugh (or some mouth-to-mouth, in that case). Linda has to deal with rowdy trick-or-treaters at the door all night, while navigating the minefield that is Christopher (seriously: he’s a handful and a half), but when Malcolm shows up at the door to exact revenge on his wife, Linda is thrust into a life-or-death situation with Christopher, who has no idea that the maniac running around with a butcher knife is his father!
Despite a rambling storyline and some strange writing, Trick or Treats is a fairly entertaining little Halloween slasher that attempts to follow John Carpenter’s Halloween template but adds all sorts of other ingredients to make things interesting. With some unnecessary side characters (such as Steve Railsback, who appears in pointless, disconnected scenes where he calls Linda periodically to check in) and a long build-up to Malcolm’s return, the film is at its best when it focuses solely on Linda and the goofball kid, as well as the various trick or treaters who come to the door. There’s a little too much build-up to Peter Jason’s insane character’s journey from the crazy home to his front door, and the movie would have been tighter if the editing had deleted some of that material (and scarier). Gary Graver, a pornographer who has also directed mainstream films like this one, seems to have loved working on the picture with his son Chris, and the film is at its most enjoyable when it stays true to the Halloween theme.
Trick or Treats is presented in a high-definition master on Code Red’s latest Blu-ray release, and I can assure you that it has never looked or sounded better. I saw a bootleg of this film a few years ago, and seeing it again was like seeing it for the first time. There’s an audio commentary with the three main characters and the cameraman, as well as a Railsback interview.
- trick or treats code red
- trick or treat 1986