Running Time: 90 minutes.
Tag-line: "Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, but don't watch it alone!"
Notable Cast or Crew: John Martin (DAYS OF OUR LIVES, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS), Ken Swofford (THELMA & LOUISE, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN), Sal Viviano (THE JITTERS, SPIKE OF BENSONHURST), Julie Adams (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, BEND OF THE RIVER), Frank Dietz (ROCK N' ROLL NIGHTMARE, THE JITTERS), Carla Ferrigno (Lou Ferrigno's wife), Vincent Pastore (GOODFELLAS, "Big Pussy" on THE SOPRANOS).
Best One-liner: "If I was Mrs. Miller, I would be hysterical, because Mr. Miller's dead!"
In a familiar, darkened alleyway:
–"What the hell is this, with this 3-D VHS cover?––a skeleton's trying to give me an overgrown guitar?"
"What you're looking at here is essentially REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE meets FAUST at HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT."
"It's BLACK ROSES, my friend. From Long Island-auteur John Fasano, the director of the seminal hard rockin' horror flick ROCK N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (which I reviewed seven years ago, dear Lord)."
–"I vaguely remember this. Something about a hair metal dude named Jon Mikl Thor trying to attack his own nipples with a rubber starfish while he fights a puppet Satan?"
"You have a good memory. BLACK ROSES is certainly in the same vein, except this time instead of a rock band battling demons, we have a high school teacher battling a demonized rock band. And by gum, it delivers on its premise. Less than thirty seconds in, we have a full-on demon hair metal concert!"
"That's all we really need. I mean, you could say that this film climaxes early, but who cares, if that means watching demonic hair metal?"
––"I can't argue with that."
"And that's the movie in a nutshell. Does that appeal to you? Then watch BLACK ROSES. If it doesn't, then what the hell are you even doing here?"
––"No need to be aggressive. So what else is goin' on here?"
"Well, the demon band travels from town to town, turning their audiences into minor demons and zombies. They drive around exclusively in Lamborghinis, which leads directly to this kickass main title, which deserves to be immortalized on the side of a roadie's van, or at least on a velvet canvas:
––"Alright, alright, alright!"
"But if they can afford Lamborghinis and have this personal, Faustian relationship with Satan, I really don't understand why they're playing low-rent, wood-paneled high school gymnasiums in lesser Ontario."
––"Yeah, that seems like a step down."
"And did I mention that the lead singer, Damian (played by Sal Viviano), kinda looks like Jon Bon Jovi combined with John Tesh?"
––"Whoa, he kinda does!"
"And he's fuckin' great. He's a fearless performer, and he pulls out all the stops, whether in demon form or in an S&M harness. He deserves a non-fictitious band."
––"So what happens beyond the concerts?"
"An English teacher (John Martin) takes a break from teaching Walt Whitman to a bunch of middle-aged high school students
None of these people
have seen the interior of a high school
for at least a decade...
to put the screws to Satan and his hard rockin' minions! He does it all while looking like a poor man's Tom Atkins and wearing a bitchin' striped sweatshirt."
––"At least the sweatshirt is in Halloween colors. And that is a handsome mustache."
"It is. To switch gears for a moment, it bears mentioning that BLACK ROSES was actually quite timely, released in the era of lawsuits against acts like Priest and Ozzy and Slayer, blaming them for dead children, felonies, suicides, and the like. In service of this theme, there's a Tipper Gore-style square ranting about the corruption of youth:
And a brilliant scene where a fuddy-duddy dad played by Vincent Pastore ("Big Pussy" from THE SOPRANOS!)
tells his metalhead son that 'Only two kinds of men wear earrings: pirates and faggots. I don't see no ship in our driveway.' He meets a well-deserved fate when a demonically possessed record pulls a full VIDEODROME by bubbling into living vinyl flesh,
unleashes a scorpion/centipede monster,
and finally drags him headfirst into a wall-mounted speaker."
––"Now that's how you do a hard-rockin' death scene––wow! And does it say "Death Records" on that album, there? This must be a crossover with De Palma's PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, where Paul Williams' 'Death Records' offered Faustian bargains to up-and-coming musicians."
"I didn't notice that the first time––indeed, you're right! Anyway, before you can say Beelzebub, the middle-aged students work themselves into a Satanic frenzy:
transform into demons:
and poor man's Tom Atkins has no choice but to battle them with a tennis racket.
––"This sounds like just what the doctor ordered."
"The monsters are practical, the acting's all over the place, and the rock is hard. It's truly a movie for every kid who tried to play a Black Sabbath song backwards or find the hidden messages in an Iron Maiden album cover. Three and a half stars."
2015 HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN