A Moving Epic Of One Man's Struggle To...
Sorry, I Must Be Thinking About Another Movie
by Rich Bruso
October 2003

Halloween is upon us again, and it's time for movies featuring goblins, zombies, trolls, and all manner of creatures that go bump in the night. I refer, of course, to The Two Towers which is now available on DVD. Unfortunately for you, I decided to review Trick or Treat instead. Serves you right for reading this column.

"Awash in mediocrity" is how Amy described this movie. I would have opted for "crap", but then again I read somewhere that the average woman's vocabulary is larger than the average man's. Doesn't that just...hmm...what's the word?

Okay, let's start with the cover, prominently featuring three items: A skull, Gene Simmons (from KISS), and Ozzy Osbourne (from planet Zeebo, in the Crab Nebula). One would believe the movie was about Ozzy and Gene juggling skulls, right? Well, Ozzy is on screen for about two minutes, Gene is on for slightly more but is hairy to the point of non-recognition, and there are no skulls. Not since Robo Vampire has a DVD cover lied to me so much. At least there weren't any cowboys.

The first thing you hear is some vaguely creepy-sounding guy going on about deals with the devil, selling souls, fame and fortune, etc. Oh, and the contract is good for "four and twenty years", or "one score and four years" for you history buffs. No mention of interest rates, but I assume the offer is only valid in participating states for very well qualified souls.

On to standard plot premise #36: outsider teen wants girl, but is tormented by popular kids. Yes, that one again. Loner boy, known as Ragman, absolutely worships rock legend Sammi Curr, who has just died in a tragic motel fire. Fortunately, Curr left the only copy of his new album Songs in the Key of Death with local deejay Nuke, played by the unbelievably fuzzy Gene Simmons. Nuke is going to play a tape of the album backwards at midnight on Halloween, and gives the original record to Ragman. Yeah, that makes sense.

In what is supposed to be a humorous cameo, Ozzy appears on Ragman's TV as an evangelist ranting about the evils of Rock and Roll. He mumbles something about violent rock lyrics, asking what happened to nice songs about love. He then stumbles offstage and bites the head off of an alter boy. Okay, this didn't happen, but it would have been funny.

Being the 80's, Ragman decides to play the irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind record backwards, revealing instructions to Ragman on how to humiliate the jocks. The plan, which I won't reveal here for reasons of national security, works flawlessly. The record even begins to play itself backwards, carrying on conversations with Ragman, trading recipes, gossiping about the jocks, etc. I think it even improves his gas mileage.

The driving moral behind this movie is simple: Don't make illegal copies of records. At least, that's how I interpreted it. One such pirated tape brings the power tools in the metal shop alive, nearly killing a few jocks. Another melts a teenage girl's brain, leaving her in a coma. A third tape somehow rips a woman out of the TV and reduces her to a pile of ashes, which is promptly vacuumed up by one of Ragman's friends. Yeah, right, a teenager voluntarily doing housework.

Yet another illegal copy surfaces at the high school's Halloween dance. This one is such a flagrant copyright violation that Sammi Curr himself comes back from the dead, killing students left and right with bolts of lightning shooting out of his electric guitar. Luckily, cutting the building's power makes Curr disappear, and Ragman destroys the tape. While the police are questioning witnesses, paramedics wheel several fully costumed students past, including one kid in a comically large circus bear outfit. This is widely believed to be the end of the movie.

"Oh, no it's not!" shout the music executives in the reading audience, who remember the illegal copy at the radio station, queued up for play at midnight. A mad race to the station ensues, with Curr leaping out of every radio tuned to that frequency. Ragman makes it to the station, which is possessed by Curr. Our hero has a plan, though it's too lame for me to recount. Suffice to say it's the worst non-ending I've seen in a long time, leading me to wonder if the special effects budget ran out before they got to the finale. The final copy is destroyed, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Let this be a lesson to anyone out there thinking about piracy. Sure, copying your buddy's copy of P. Diddy's remake of The Hokey Pokey seems harmless, but are you willing to put up with the living dead just to save ten bucks? I thought not.

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