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Skeleton in the Closet: Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean in '80s Horror Film

By Michael Scrutchin

Yes, it's true. As some of you may have heard as word spread on the Internet, A.J. McLean of the incredibly popular pop group the Backstreet Boys appears in the 1986 low-budget horror film Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness. Directed by cult filmmaker Tim Ritter, the film centers on a guy named Mike Strauber who finds out that his wife is cheating on him, goes crazy, engages in some self-mutilation, and eventually dons a copper mask and goes on a killing spree. A.J. McLean plays a young Mike Strauber in scenes from the killer's childhood.

Truth or Dare writer-director Tim Ritter has made many films under the banner of his production company Twisted Illusions, including Creep, Dirty Cop No Donut, Killing Spree, and two sequels to Truth or Dare -- Wicked Games and Screaming for Sanity. As posted on the Twisted Illusions website, here's what Ritter had to say about directing the young Backstreet Boy:

"I remember directing that scene well -- young Mike Strauber (I mean AJ) was really cool to work with, unlike the other kids, who wanted to play and didn't take the scenes very seriously at all! He was really into the part. Who knew he'd become a pop star millionaire, tho... He definitely looked demented, cutting his arm with a razor blade and showing his mother..."

Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness has been out-of-print, but there is a video and DVD re-release in the works from indie distributor Sub Rosa Studios due out by the end of the year. It will be a special edition widescreen version of the film with several extras. But, as a friendly warning, I seriously doubt that this movie will be suitable for most Backstreet Boys fans. If the other Tim Ritter movies that I've seen are any indication, this movie probably makes Scream look like Alice in Wonderland. Tim Ritter isn't exactly synonymous with fun for the whole family.

Once this news surfaced earlier this month, a few individuals spread the word to message boards at several Backstreet Boys sites, including the official website at Soon after messages about the film and A.J. were posted, these posts mysteriously vanished. Then a message appeared at the Twisted Illusions message board stating that the posts about A.J. and Truth or Dare had been deleted and that A.J. and the group want nothing to do with these rumors or this film.

I found this news about a Backstreet Boy in Tim Ritter's Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness quite amusing. As regular Flipside visitors know, we usually don't post tidbits like this on a regular basis, but I couldn't resist. A Backstreet Boy in a low-budget slasher film from the 1980s that he and his management don't seem to want people to know about. And I ask: What's the big deal?

Article published 09.06.2001.

Read Michael Scrutchin's review of Truth or Dare.


Truth or Dare

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