Monday, October 29, 2018

It's the Great Pumpkin...Thing

There is something inherently fascinating about a terribly boring movie. 

Trick or Treats embodies this well.

Quick Plot: For reasons never given, Joan has her husband Malcolm committed to a typical '80s movie coed insane asylum. 

"Several years later" (specifics are rarely to be found in Trick or Treats), Malcolm is mad (BUT STILL NOT CLEAR IF INSANE) as hell and decides to not take it anymore. He escapes via the age old "grown man wearing a wig and skirt being enough to convince every person he comes across that he's a woman who should be hit on" trick to wreak his vengeance on the woman who wronged him.

And oh boy, that woman. Joan still occupies the same upper middle class suburban home, but has now filled it with new husband David Carradine. Also, she might be a magician. Or he might be one. Or they're semi-famous tuxedo-clad magicians eager to climb the magician social ladder by accepting an invitation to a lavish Vegas ... magician Halloween party? 

The details are murky--a LOT of Trick or Treats is--but it's clear that Joan and Malcolm's awful son Christopher is planning on continuing the family trade, or just being a terrible child who delights in playing obnoxious pranks on strangers. Babysitter/struggling actress Linda is called to watch him while mom and stepdad go gallivanting in Sin City, but not before Carradine gets to sexually harass the young blond and have an intense staring contest with his demon seed stepson. 

Linda is immune to Carradine's charms because, you see, she's in love with Brett (Steve Railsback), a community theater actor who promises to stop by after he finishes playing white Othello in his big premiere. 

SPOLIER ALERT! Brett never actually shows up because, I assume, the movie forgot about him or ran out of the money needed to bus Railsback to a different set. Note that I did not forget that he is playing, for reasons unexplained, white Othello. 

You know what else this movie forgets about? The dog. Joan clearly instructs Linda to feed the dog. 

We never see a dog.

Look, even  Blade Runner has detailed plot holes but the ones in Trick or Treats are so weirdly specific that it's REALLY hard to ignore. 

At some point, Malcolm makes his way to Linda (prior to that, we have SEVERAL painfully non-funny-but-someone-probably-though-were-funny scenes where he trades clothes with a nurse, punches a security guard, gets hit on in LA's red light district, and forces a homeless man to give him his outfit, underwear included). A cat and mouse chase ensues, with Christopher's obnoxious dime store magician tricks occasionally helping out. 

I don't know that I have enough words to effectively explain just how strange a movie Trick or Treats is. Much of that probably comes from writer/director/cinematographer Gary Graver, a man with one of the most fascinating IMDB profiles I've ever seen. 

Somewhere between serving as Orson Welles's final DP and making a LOT of cleverly titled porn films (Maverdick and Cape Rear sound the most fun), Graver tried out his mainstream auteur chops and, well, ended up making Trick or Treats. I have to believe that So I Married a Lesbian was better written. 

There's just so much weirdly wrong in Trick or Treats to the extent that you start to wonder, much like Cats: The Movie, if everyone involved was being blackmailed (though the child actor playing Christopher, being Graver's real-life son, was probably just earning his allowance). Or perhaps it was some kind of elaborate training session for lead Jacqueline Giroux to practice hanging up phones. Because SERIOUSLY: she has do it about 30 times in the movie, and never once does she put the phone back in its receiver the way any biological human being would.

Again, when a movie is this bad, you notice the details. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

High Points
Most of the characters seemed to know most of their lines and only stumbled over their words every other scene or so. I feel like that took a lot of work

Low Points
I know the running time said 90 minutes, but I'm pretty sure Trick or Treats went on for at least eighteen hours. Or possibly days. Or lifetimes...

Lessons Learned
The standard uniform of high end babysitting agencies in the 1980s combined an unflattering nurse-cut romper with a weirdly inviting easy-access front zipper

Movies are ultimately made in the editing room. Side note: I don't think Trick or Treats has an editing room

If your production location includes a pool, you might as well use it in at least 50% of all your film's shots because you clearly just had that pool cleaned and why not get your money's worth?

Make no mistake: Trick or Treats is a terrible, nearly incompetent movie lacking any real intrigue, sexiness, scares, or, well, anything logical whatsoever. That being said, if one were to "find the wine" (as the babysitter so responsibly says) and invite your pals and white Othello-boyfriend over for the night (as the babysitter so responsibly does), then hey: this is a good time. A terrible, incompetent, good time. Thank you, Amazon Prime. 


  1. I've seen this one around for years and never gave it much notice, and so never knew it had David Carradine in it. Now I'm gonna have to watch it... after I find the wine.