When I watch a movie, it’s like there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, the kind of movies we call POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life. It goes without saying that these guys don’t always see eye to eye.


(Leaving the theater, a Halloween Kills poster is on the wall behind them.)

POPCORN: So you probably don’t wanna see it again, huh?

CINEMA: Not really.

POPCORN: That’s alright, my high has worn off anyway. Besides, I’ve got another flick about Halloween that I think you’ll dig . . .

(Forty minutes later)

CINEMA: Alright, so what is this cinematic masterpiece that I just have to see?

POPCORN: (cueing up VCR, pushing an old VHS tape into the slot)

CINEMA: Oh shit.

POPCORN: Dude, allow me to present to you . . . from the horrific bowels of 1986 . . . your new favorite Halloween movie . . . Trick or Treat.

CINEMA: Hmmm.

(From the screen, a medium-speed guitar riff plays. The camera moves through the room of a teenage boy, showing posters by Judas Priest, Anthrax, Ozzy Osbourne, Twisted Sister. There is a Habitrail . . . a fancy stereo system . . . a stack of board games: Clue, Stratego, Risk. Over these images, an 80s heavy metal rocker sings:

“I’ve got something to tell you,

something you can’t deny.

I’ve taken all that you’ve given,

I’ve had it up to my eye . . . “)

POPCORN: So all these posters and shit, that’s why you can’t find this flick on any legit video releases. Some kinda licensing thing. It’s on bootleg, YouTube . . . and VHS, if you’re cool like me.

(“Can’t feel the hunger,

feel that you can’t go on now.

Stand up and be counted,

don’t push your luck too far,

stand up and be counted . . . “)

POPCORN: Here’s the main dude.

CINEMA: Oh hey, that’s . . .

POPCORN: Skippy from Family Ties.

CINEMA: I was going to say Marc Price, but that is what he’s best known for.

POPCORN: Too bad, dude. Cuz he’s really good in this movie. Nobody saw it, though, and everybody saw Family Ties, so Skippy was all he could ever be. Well, he’s kinda Skippy here too . . . but if Skippy was more pissed off and into 80s metal. Oh yeah, fun fact: Keanu Reeves almost got the role of Eddie, but they picked Skippy instead.

CINEMA: What . . . ?

(Eddie Weinbauer, aka Ragman, is laying on his bed as he writes in a notebook. In the voiceover, he says, “It’s me again. Ragman. It’s like you say, ‘Rock’s chosen warriors will rule the apocalypse.’ Airheads and braindeads are everywhere.” Cut to him huddled beneath a busy stairwell at school. It’s obvious that he’s not one of the popular kids. “Who needs ’em?”) 

POPCORN: But wait, here’s the girl.

(“What do they got that I need? Okay, one thing . . . Leslie.” She appears to be waving at him, so he quickly waves back, his face hopeful. However, she’s waving at a friend just past him in the hall. He looks at his hand, the one that waved, like it has just betrayed him.) 

CINEMA: Angst.

POPCORN: Then more angst, dude. Wouldn’t be metal without it.

CINEMA: Or a movie with teenagers.

(Eating lunch with his only friend, Roger, he lifts a milk carton to his lips. As he begins to drink, faces in the background can be seen watching him. Someone has cut a hole in the container and it spills down over his shirt. He turns to look at a table behind him, where Leslie sits with the obviously more popular crowd.)

POPCORN: Here’s the usual preppy jocks. You can just smell the vinegar comin’ off these douches. It’s the Douche Gang and that’s Tim, the Head Douche.

(The Head Douche toasts Eddie with his own milk carton, smirking, while everyone laughs. Even Leslie is laughing.)

CINEMA: So it’s directed by Charles Martin Smith . . .

POPCORN: Yeah, I guess.

CINEMA: He’s played a few geeks himself. Remember Terry in American Graffiti?

POPCORN: The Toad!

CINEMA: Exactly.

POPCORN: He was that accountant dude in The Untouchables too. Got blasted in the elevator.

CINEMA: Yeah, that was him. Smith grew up in Van Nuys, California. He was discovered while acting in a school play, of all things. His career started in television, some series appearances and in an adaption of Go Ask Alice. George Lucas chose him to play Toad and he took off after that, with roles in John Carpenter’s underrated Starman . . . in Never Cry Wolf . . . Deep Cover . . .

POPCORN: He directed those Dolphin Tale movies.

CINEMA: Huh.

(The montage continues while rock music plays over the soundtrack. Eddie is in the shower, looking miserable, just before the Douche Gang steal his towel and push him out of the locker room, in front of the girls on the gym floor. One of them snaps a photo of him, naked, as he tries in vain to open the door. Leslie looks on as well, but now she seems more sympathetic.)

POPCORN: Watch this, dude. This shot is pretty sweet.

(He slides down the door, slowly sinking out of the frame. The last thing seen is his hands, grasping at nothing.)

CINEMA: Damn.

(The voiceover continues: “Sometimes – actually, kinda a lot lately – I think about some pretty radical things. I mean, I’ve got thoughts in my head that nobody but you would understand . . .” On the wall in front of him, towering above all the other bands, like a god awaiting a sacrifice, is the scowling face of Sammi Curr. He is the rock star to whom Eddie has been writing, whose music has been playing over the opening montage of cruelty. Eddie says, “Why not just end it? The only thing holding me together . . . is you.”)

POPCORN: So this rocker dude, Sammi Curr, he used to go to Lakeridge High back in the day. He got out, though, so he’s, like, totally Eddie’s hero now.

(Eddie proceeds to the kitchen for some food, where a news story about Curr has already begun. The local town council had denied Curr’s request to play at his former school, citing his inappropriate lyrics and sexual stage antics. A spokeswoman appears on the screen, talking about the addiction that’s reaching epidemic proportions, the dreaded scourge of rock music.) 

CINEMA: Hey, that’s . . .

POPCORN: Large Marge?

CINEMA: Yeah. Otherwise known as character actress Alice Nunn. Wow. She was in a lot of films, from Johnny Got His Gun and Airport ’75 to The Fury and Mommie Dearest . . .

POPCORN: I’ll tell ’em she sent you.

(Footage on the television shows Curr appearing before a board not unlike the PMRC, the group of Washington wives who sought to ban music they felt was inappropriate for teenagers. A man in a generic suit, obviously a politician, leans forward to ask Curr, if he were a parent, would he want his child growing up around rock musicians and “those values.” Curr replies, “I wouldn’t want them growing up around politicians and those values.”)

POPCORN: Wait for it, dude.

(Cut to a home engulfed in flames. Returning to the newscaster, she informs the audience that Sammi Curr has died in a fire at the age of 38.)

CINEMA: I was waiting for that.

POPCORN: Nightmare On Elm Street was huge at the time, so the producers wanted the big bad dude to be all burnt-up and scarred in this movie. I mean, you don’t get to see him yet, but you will.

CINEMA: Yeah, they kinda give that away on the poster.

(Eddie runs to his room, collapsing on the bed in anger and tears. He leaps back up and starts tearing all the posters from his wall as the soundtrack blasts a song about tearing down the walls. He’s in a frenzy of grief, stopping just before he would tear down the poster of Curr. The rocker glares down at him from the wall.)

POPCORN: And then . . .

(Cut to Gene Simmons of KISS as a disc jockey named Nuke. “Wake up, sleepyheads,” he says into the microphone, “It’s party time.”)  

POPCORN: They, like, tried to get Simmons to play the Sammi part, but he said the script was no good. Dude never turns down money, though, so here he is. Turns out Eddie hangs out with him in the studio all the time –

CINEMA: A grown man, not weird at all.

POPCORN: Yeah, dude. Because the plot, you know? But Gene gives him this record . . .

(“The last record of the Curr legacy.”)

POPCORN: The only copy in the world, except . . . 

(“I’ve got it on cassette, so I can play it Halloween night.”)

CINEMA: Convenient.

POPCORN: Right?

(Further antics ensue, resulting in even greater angst. Leslie seems to legitimately like Eddie, but he points his finger at her, yelling, “I’m gonna nail every one of those bastards. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I’m gonna nail ’em.”)

CINEMA: Cue up the acetate.

POPCORN: Dude, you’ve seen this?

CINEMA: No, but it’s not hard to see where this is going.

(It starts to go there. Eddie awakens from strange dreams of Curr in a circle of fire, while backwards vocals play on the record.)

POPCORN: So I looked up some stuff on the dude who played Sammi . . .

CINEMA: Whoa, no way. I’m impressed.

POPCORN: Yeah, dude. I got, like, a library card and shit too. Anyway, some guy named Tony Fields was Sammi. He was a Solid Gold dancer back in the day, and he was in that chorus line flick . . .

CINEMA: Oh? That’s surprising, since he looks like Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee if he was fused with Daniel Ash of Love & Rockets.

POPCORN: . . . and the band that does Sammi’s songs – I know you never heard of ’em, you and your Love & Rockets ass – they’re called Fastway. So-called heavy metal and from England. More like hard rock, really. Fast Eddie Clarke, former guitarist of Motörhead, and Pete Way from the band UFO. They were kinda big for a minute, three albums before they did this soundtrack . . .

CINEMA: Cool.

POPCORN: Yeah, they broke up afterwards.

CINEMA: The success was too much for them, huh?

POPCORN: Not really. This movie didn’t really do shit at the box office. I mean, the album did better than this. Oh, and this dude . . .

(Eddie’s only friend, Roger, tells him that backwards masking is nothing but bullshit, just a gimmick so teenagers ruin their records and have to buy more copies. “Eddie, your cage is starting to shake loose,” he says.)

POPCORN: . . . his name is Glen Morgan . . .

CINEMA: Wait, the Glen Morgan?

POPCORN: Uh-huh.

CINEMA: Producer, writer, director? Known for writing some of the best episodes of The X-Files with James Wong?

POPCORN: Yup.

CINEMA: Did the second season of Chris Carter’s Millennium, you know, the best season? Then created the Final Destination films?

POPCORN: That’s the dude. Roger was the one and only time he did any acting.

CINEMA: No shit.

POPCORN: So I actually knew something your overeducated ass didn’t know?

CINEMA: Apparently, yeah. Well, you know how to make a bong out of a soda can too. That’s probably impressive in the right circles.

POPCORN: Heh, yeah. Speaking of which . . .

(Twenty minutes later.)

POPCORN: Duuuuude, check this scene out . . .

(Ozzy Osbourne appears on a talk show as a reverend.)

CINEMA: No way.

POPCORN: Yes, way.

(Ozzy is speaking out against the evils of rock music. “These are sick people,” he says, and proceeds to read the lyrics that the host hands to him: “Gonna drive my long steel missile down your love channel . . . deep, deep, you’ll beg for more, raising hell and the serpent’s score . . . “)

CINEMA: Excellent.

POPCORN: Right? Turns out, they didn’t write any lines for him. He showed up and just started adlibbing shit. For, like, forty-five minutes. After all those years of folks saying these things about him –

CINEMA: It must have felt good to parody them. 

POPCORN: Yup. Of you make it all the way through the credits, there’s one of those post-credit things with him too.

CINEMA: No way.

POPCORN: Way. Guess that shit didn’t start with Marvel, eh? Now the Head Douche comes over to Eddie’s house just to tell Eddie to stay away from him.

CINEMA: Smart.

(There is a tremor in Eddie’s room, books falling from shelves, speakers shaking. Light starts to pour from the stereo. A can of Pepsi spills on the turntable. Veins grow on the speakers, bulging out with electricity, a face pressing out from inside.)

CINEMA: One, two, Freddy’s coming for you . . .

(In a huge burst of smoke and 1980s electricity, Sammi Curr appears in Eddie’s bedroom. As promised, one half of his face is a pattern of very Krugeresque burns. He looks at Ozzy, speaking out about music, and pulls him out of the television in a twisted spark of electrical death. Then he turns to Eddie: “You should be loyal to your heroes . . . they can turn on you.”)

POPCORN: Good advice. Alright, dude, best scene’s comin’ up. Are you ready for this?

CINEMA: I’m ready for this.

POPCORN: I don’t think you’re ready for this.

(There’s an explosion on the screen, lighting up the audience of Lakeridge High students and teachers. Someone yells “Rock and roll!!” as a guitar hurtles through the air. The other band members watch as it flies, and the leather-clad arm of Sammi Curr snakes out to grab it. He strums one dramatic chord. The camera sidecuts to his burnt face, eyes wide. The atmosphere is tense as he steps up to the microphone. He lifts his arms in a Jesus pose and the spotlights come to life.)

POPCORN: (standing in front of the television, arms also raised)

(Sammi looks up, then down dramatically at the hushed audience. He looks like a god. He looks like a demon. Cut to a shot from behind him, looking out into the dark ocean of faces. He lowers his hand, then starts to pound it against his leg. Pound. Pound. Pound.)

POPCORN: (doing the same)

(The audience starts clapping along to each smack of Sammi’s fist, nothing but these rhythmic sounds filling up the auditorium. The sound builds and builds. The drummer jumps in. Pound. Pound. Pound.)

POPCORN: (chanting with the audience) Rock! Rock! Rock!

(Sammi tears into the guitar.)

POPCORN: (singing along with Sammi)

“Suddenly, everything is alright,

everything is cooooool.

Hey dudes, I like your style,

it’s the way it should . . . “

(Sammi is really working the crowd, dancing and prancing around the stage like he owns the world.)

POPCORN: (clumsily, comically mimicking the actions onscreen.)

“Rock. And. Roll.

Rockin’ on a midnight.

Steal your soul.

Rock. And. Roll.

Rockin’ on a midnight.

Take control . . . “

(The audience is going wild, cheering that seems to fill up Popcorn’s living room.)

POPCORN: (Snarling like a true rock star while Cinema watches, starting to laugh in spite of himself. From the TV, someone shouts, “He’s better than the real Sammi!”)

“Knock, knock, knockin’

for a sweet surprise,

it’s a trick or treat!” 

(Sammi wails on a guitar solo . . . just before he starts hurling lightning bolts from the end of his instrument. Like a scene from Carrie, the students and staff of Lakeridge High start falling, left and right, leaving nothing but smoke and masks and fake noses and all the disguises they wore to the concert. It’s a total massacre set to rock and roll music.)

POPCORN: Isn’t this the best damn movie you ever seen???

CINEMA: (laughing) Probably not “ever” . . . 

POPCORN: (zaps him with a make-believe bolt of lightning from his air guitar.)

CINEMA: Okay, okay! It’s a good movie! (laughing) Great, in fact!

POPCORN: Damn right, dude. Hey, happy Halloween, Cinema.

CINEMA: Happy Halloween, Popcorn.

(From the darkened television screen comes Eddie’s voice: “Wake up, sleepyheads! It’s party time!!”

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