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Five years after his wife, Joan, had him wrongfully and delibarately committed to a mental institution so she could live with her boyfriend, Malcolm escapes on Halloween night and arrives back at his old house to murder her, except Joan is not home but she's out with her boyfriend while babysitter Linda is looking after Malcolm's 10-year-old son Christopher, an equally psychotic and demented practical joker until, under cover of darkness, Malcolm shows up and begins a real terror game of attrition with Linda. Written by
This supposed horror spoof came to us courtesy of the legendary B movie cinematographer Gary Graver, here functioning as screenwriter, editor, D.P., and director. I can get that it's attempting to mock "Halloween" type films, but it seriously lacks any sort of wit, and Graver fails to make it particularly interesting, despite the magic angle. There's a number of familiar faces here, but they're mostly just picking up paychecks in brief special appearances (especially Steve Railsback, who you only ever see on the phone). Graver doesn't achieve any sort of tension, and some of the characters are beyond annoying. There are some guffaws to be had, but they're few and far between.
Top billed Jacqueline Giroux is clearly too old for her role, but is undeniably sexy as Linda, a struggling actress who agrees to take a babysitting gig because it will pay well. The kid in question is Christopher O'Keefe (who's played by Chris Graver, the real-life son of Gary G. and co-star Jillian Kesner), whose mother Joan (Carrie Snodgress) had her husband Malcolm (character actor Peter Jason, recognizable for his work with Walter Hill and John Carpenter) wrongly committed to an insane asylum. Joan has remarried, to a magician named Richard Adams (David Carradine), and Malcolm busts out of the asylum - disguised as a nurse - to wreak revenge on Joan. Meanwhile, Christopher spends the whole night terrorizing Linda with a series of macabre pranks.
If there's anything giving "Trick or Treats" any sort of stature, it's the fact that none other than Orson Welles, for whom Graver worked on Welles's later film projects, is credited as the "magic consultant". And these magic gags do manage to be mildly amusing. Otherwise, this is pretty blah stuff. Jason in drag is a sight to behold, in any event. Railsback and Carradine, who look like their scenes were filmed in a day or less, are utterly wasted in their roles. If you do watch, be sure to look for the following people in supporting roles and bits: delectable exploitation actress Kesner as Lindas' friend Andrea, football players Dan Pastorini and Tim Rossovich as attendants, Paul Bartel as a bum, John Blyth Barrymore (older half brother to Drew Barrymore) as a mad doctor in the movie-within-the-movie, Catherine E. Coulson (the Log Lady from 'Twin Peaks') as a nurse, and the director himself as a counterman. Giroux is somewhat appealing, but her character isn't particularly sympathetic because she falls for the kids' antics too many times, and the kid himself is extremely obnoxious. They definitely detract from whatever enjoyment the viewer might have.
If you must see it for completions' sake, be my guest, but don't get your hopes up very high.
Five out of 10.
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