TURN DOWN THAT DEVIL MUSIC!!

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 in 80's Horror, All Reviews, Featured | 2 comments

BLACK ROSES (1988)

www.tavernofterror.comOne of my fondest memories that I associate with becoming a horror fanatic is that of roaming the dusty horror shelf in the back of the family-owned video store I went to as a kid. The VHS box cover art for horror movies in the 80’s and early 90’s were, without a doubt, the most luring advertising any movies ever had. Modern, floating head photo-shopped DVD cover crap can never compare.

Black Roses is a perfect example of this. Just look at the elaborate artwork. Better yet, this was a 3D box (known as a “pop out” case). You could run your hands over those ridges. This is one of those boxes that always sparked my interest but, for whatever reasons, I never got around to actually seeing the movie…. until now.

This little heavy metal horrorshow is the work of writer/director John Fasano, who gave us my beloved bad-movie Rock N’ Roll Nightmare, as well as the Adam West starring, mega-shit show Zombie Nightmare. So expectations were high for this little trash cinema videovore.

Unleashed in 1988 when hair metal was still flying high, this film mirrors the myths that had spawned from parental paranoia. At the time, people were increasingly worried that listening to Judas Priest would make their kids kill themselves and that Ozzy Osbourne was trying to create an army of satanic killers using subliminal messaging.

Hard to believe now, when death metal and gangster rap artists say horrendous things right out in the open, but twenty-four years ago people really thought hidden messages would make their kids into monsters. Some even believed that Motley Crue was the spawn of Satan.

So this movie is about an enormously popular metal group called Black Roses, which is actually a band from Hell. The music they play was provided by King Kobra, a fairly popular metal band of the day, and the soundtrack alone has made this film a cult classic — featuring songs by former heavy metal heavyweights Hallow’s Eve, Lizzy Borden and Temptest.

www.tavernofterror.comThe movie starts with Black Roses playing a show somewhere. They are all monstered out: full on demons with big hair and lots of glitter. It’s hard, at first, to tell if they are real demons or a band dressed as demons. It’s also a little hard to know if this ominous opening is an epilogue or a prologue. The music turns the crowd into a horde of marauding ghouls and the credits kick in as we watch some bitchin’ Lamborghinis pull up, starting off the late 80’s nostalgia train, which this movie rides all the way. This opening is really great, filled with old school metal and old school creature effects that any 80’s horror fan is bound to get a boner from.

We meet Matt, a caring teacher with a magnum mustache. He teaches high school communications in Anytown, USA, where famed band Black Roses is coming to play a series of concerts. The adults in the community are up in arms, worried that the band will poison the minds of their youth. Said youth couldn’t be giddier.

The mayor insists that every generation has their rebellious rock and that the band is just another fad. He and the parental committee attend the band’s first show just to be sure.

Hilariously, the teen audience is sitting quietly awaiting the show. Apparently there is also no opening act for the biggest metal band in the world.

Lead singer Damien (yup, Damien), hits the stage looking more like Yanni than Axl. He wears a long white coat and has a Rod Stewart haircut that went on to become very popular with lesbians. The adults leave the show, convinced that Black Roses are harmless. The moment they do, Damien and his legion have an instantaneous costume change, donning leather bondage gear that would get Rob Halford saying “Tone it down, honey”.

The shows start to turn all of the teens in town into a small cult. Not only are there fists fights in parking lots over the new records, there are also body slams. Soon enough teen girls are playing strip gin with their friend’s Dads. Before you know it, the kids are killing their parents just like all those annoying church groups always warned heavy metal would compel them to.

Look for a fun scene staring the guy who played Big Pussy in The Sopranos. He tells his son: “Only two kind of guys wear earrings: pirates and faggots, and I don’t see no ship in our driveway.” Hi son storms off, leaving him with a bubbling Black Roses record that sends a nice demon puppet through the speakers to sic ‘em.

www.tavernofterror.comThe shows go on, blasting literally face-melting metal. The movie is slow at times, but moments such as these bring B-movie big laughs. The blood and guts are few and far between, but the T&A is ample and when the monsters show up they’re just fantastic.

Soon enough Matt realizes that the band is behind the rise in teen anarchy, especially when a student tries to seduce him and the whole mess turns into a topless creature battle with tennis rackets.

I know, right? 80’s horror Sweetness!

Matt’s plan to destroy the band is weak and moronic. He tries to burn down the hall they’re playing in but does it right in front of Damien. The band turns into chalked-face ghouls and Damien himself transforms into a dollar store Pumpkinhead and the final battle ensues.

The ending is flat and leaves way too many unanswered questions, but the ride getting there is good enough to pass an afternoon, provided you have a few beers and at least a little sentimentality for the bygone hair metal rage of yesteryear. I know I do.

FINAL THOUGHTS

www.tavernofterror.com

Yep, that was me.

Damien is no Jon Mikl Thor. In fact, he’s not even Sammy Curr from Trick Or Treat, another solid evil metal band horror flick. This is not as wonderfully, outrageously bad as Rock N’ Roll Nightmare. God, how I love that golden turd. However, Black Roses is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It offers copious amounts of naked, nubile ladies and a whole lot of little guys in rubber monster suits. The old school FX are a blast, ranking right up there with The Unholy and the Ghoulies series.

In 1988, this movie must have really struck the right chord with young metal heads. The ruination of alternative rock was still a few years away, and metal was still on top even if it was withering. As a twelve-year-old head-banger in ’89, who was in love with scary movies, I fondly remember ogling this sweet looking VHS box.

Had I seen the movie back then, I’m sure it would be a treasure to me.

Seeing it now, in 2012, it gave me some nostalgic cheer and a whole lot of latex-inspired laughs, but it just didn’t wow me.

It’s metal, but it’s no Ronnie James Dio.

 

  • RATING: 3 out of 5. Makes for fun viewing, but as mentioned, a better choice would be Trick Or Treat or, better still, the incomprehensible, untouchable Rock N’ Roll Nightmare.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Despite the movie having some big haired succubae, I’m gonna go with blond, crimped-haired Janey.
    Crimped hair. Oh man….

BARTENDER’S NOTES

www.tavernofterror.comDid you know that Motorhead makes wine now?

While I would expect something more like whiskey from ol’ Lemmy, this mighty, Australian Shiraz is loaded with taste and aromas ranging from vanilla to plums to licorice. Serve at room temperature and don’t be surprised when you start to rock.

I’ve seen just about every death metal band you can think of live in concert. But Motorhead was louder than all of them. Their wine equally likes to amp it up!

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2 Comments

  1. You’re totally right about the box cover art!

  2. hypnotic, isn’t it?

What do you think?