Shock Rock Horror! The Representation and Reception of Heavy Metal Horror Films in the 1980s

  • Nedim Hassan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music book series (PSHSPM)


Although existing academic work has examined moral panics surrounding heavy metal music in the USA during the mid-to-late 1980s, previous studies have not assessed the impact these had on popular film. Hassan’s chapter focuses upon horror films released in this period that directly engage with and satirise debates about metal music’s alleged corrupting influence. Drawing upon genre analysis and assessing the audience reception of Trick or Treat (Directed by Charles Martin Smith, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 1986) in particular, the chapter contends that these films articulated anxieties about the social control of youth during this crucial period. Hassan argues that the films addressed youth audiences in ways that fostered potential opportunities to reflect upon their experiences of metal music culture and to counteract wider media discourses that constructed such culture as deviant.


  1. 976-EVIL. 1988. Directed by Robert Englund. USA: Cinetel Films.Google Scholar
  2. Black Roses 1988. Directed by John Fasano. USA: Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment.Google Scholar
  3. Box Office Mojo 2016. Trick or Treat [online] Available at: [accessed 20th October, 2016]
  4. Brown, A. R. 2011. Suicide solutions? Or, how the emo class of 2008 were able to contest their media demonization, whereas the headbangers, burnouts or ‘children of ZoSo’ generation were not. Popular Music History, 6 (1–2): 19–37.Google Scholar
  5. Carrie. 1976. Directed by Brian De Palma. USA: Red Bank Films.Google Scholar
  6. Chastagner, C. 1999. The Parents’ Music Resource Center: from information to censorship. Popular Music, 18 (2): 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cherry, B. 2009. Horror. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Children of the Corn 1984. Directed by Fritz Kiersch. USA: Angeles Entertainment Group.Google Scholar
  9. Dead Girls. 1990. Directed by Dennis Devine. USA: Bovine Productions.Google Scholar
  10. Deighan, S. 2016. Trick or Treat: Heavy metal and devil worship in ‘80s cult cinema. In Satanic Panic: pop-cultural paranoia in the 1980s. Janisse, K. and Corupe, P. (eds.) 201–215. Surrey: FAB Press.Google Scholar
  11. Du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Madsen, A. K., McKay, H. and Negus, K. 2013. Doing Cultural Studies: the story of the Sony Walkman. Milton Keynes: Open University.Google Scholar
  12. Doherty, T. 1988. Teenagers and teenpics: the juvenilization of American movies in the 1950s. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  13. Eckert, P. 1989. Jocks & Burnouts: Social Categories and Identity in the High School. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  14. Eckert, P. ( 20th June 2014 Re. A Question about Jocks and Burnouts. Email to Nedim Hassan ( Scholar
  15. Evilspeak. 1981. Directed by Eric Weston. USA: Leisure Investment Company, Coronet Film Corporation.Google Scholar
  16. Ferguson, K. L. 2016. ‘Devil on the Line: technology and the satanic film.’ In Satanic Panic: pop-cultural paranoia in the 1980s. Janisse, K. and Corupe, P. (eds.) 97–125. Surrey: FAB Press.Google Scholar
  17. Feuer, J. 1987 ‘Genre Study and Television.’ In: Channels of Discourse. Allen, R. C. (ed.) 138–160. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  18. Freud, S. 2003. The Uncanny. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  19. Friesen, B. K. 1990. ‘Powerless in Adolescence: exploiting heavy metal listeners.’ In Marginal Conventions: popular culture, mass media and social deviance. Sanders, C. R. (ed.) 65–77. Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.Google Scholar
  20. Giroux, H. A. 2002. Breaking into the movies: film and the culture of politics. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Griffiths, R. 2010. ‘The gothic folk devils strike back! Theorizing folk devil reaction in the post-Columbine era.’ Journal of Youth Studies, 13 (3): 403–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grixti, J. 1989. Terrors of Uncertainty: The Cultural Contexts of Horror Fiction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Internet Movie Database 2016. Reviews & Ratings for Trick or Treat [online] Available at: [Accessed 24th October 2016]
  24. Keightley, K. 1996. ‘Turn it down!’ she shrieked: Gender, domestic space, and high fidelity, 1948–59. Popular Music, 15 (2), 149–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ladouceur, L. 2016. ‘The Filthy 15: When Venom and King Diamond met the Washington wives.’ In Satanic Panic: pop-cultural paranoia in the 1980s. Janisse, K. and Corupe, P. (eds.) 159–171. Surrey: FAB Press.Google Scholar
  26. Larkin, C. (ed.) 1995. The Guinness Who’s Who of Heavy Metal. London: Guinness Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Moores, S. 2000. Media and everyday life in modern society. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Neale, S. 2000. Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Peterson, R. 1990. Why 1955? Explaining the advent of rock music. Popular Music, 9 (1): 97–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare 1987. Directed by John Fasano. USA: Thunder.Google Scholar
  31. Rocktober Blood. 1984. Directed by Beverly Sebastian. USA: Sebastian International Pictures.Google Scholar
  32. Rosenbaum, J. L. and Prinsky, L. 1991. ‘The Presumption of Influence: Recent Responses to Popular Music Subcultures.’ Crime & Delinquency, 37 (4): 528–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sammi 2016a. Guestbook [online], updated 31st October 2016 Available at: [Accessed 20th November 2016]
  34. Sammi 2016b. Interview with Trick or Treat screenwriter Mr Rhet Topham [online] Available at: [Accessed 20th November 2016]
  35. Shary, T. 2002. Generation multiplex: the image of youth in contemporary American cinema. Texas: University of Texas press.Google Scholar
  36. Shock ‘Em Dead. 1991. Directed by Mark Freed. USA: Noma Productions.Google Scholar
  37. Terror on Tour. 1980. Directed by Don Edmonds. USA: Four Features Partners.Google Scholar
  38. The Gate 1987. Directed by Tibor Takács. Canada: New Century Entertainment.Google Scholar
  39. The Lost Boys. 1987. Directed by Joel Schumacher. USA: Warner Brothers.Google Scholar
  40. Trick or Treat 1986. Directed by Charles Martin Smith. USA: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.Google Scholar
  41. Trick or Treat: Production Notes 1986. De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.Google Scholar
  42. Tudor, A. 2002. Why Horror? The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre. In Horror: the film reader Jancovich, M. (ed.) 47–55. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Twitchell, J. B. 1985. Dreadful Pleasures: An anatomy of modern horror. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Walser, R. 1993. Running with the Devil: Power, gender and madness in heavy metal music. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Weinstein, D. 2000. Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture. Boston: Da Capo Press.Google Scholar
  46. Wood, R. 2002. The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s. In Horror: the film reader. Jancovich, M. (ed.) 25–32. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Wright, R. 2000. ‘I’d sell you suicide’: pop music and moral panic in the age of Marilyn Manson. Popular Music, 19 (3): 365–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nedim Hassan
    • 1
  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations