Black Roses (1988) Review


Being a child of the ‘80s, I grew up watching MTV and roaming the horror aisles in video stores.  I was, and still am, particularly fond of anything that had monsters in it.  In the golden age of practical effects, was there really any better time for a developing mind to cultivate an obsession with horror? All of this to say, this heavy metal themed horror movie grabbed me from its demonic concert opening and never let go of my ‘80s horror loving heart.


The setup is simple; a heavy metal band, Black Roses, chooses a quaint suburban town to begin their tour, much to the chagrin of the conservative parents and PTA members. The town’s youth is annoyed at the interference with their enjoyment of the band, and it seems as though this falls under the “parents just don’t understand” youth rebellion type of horror. Except, the PTA isn’t exactly wrong in their distaste for the band, as the Black Roses are really demons in disguise, using their music as a means to possess and corrupt the youth that attends their concerts.


Set to an extremely catchy soundtrack featuring King Kobra and Lizzy Borden, the movie features everything you’d want in your B-movie schlock; nudity, blood, demons, and metal. The kills and demonic activity all absolutely all over the place in an illogical but fun way. The band actually turns into demons during their concert, but sometimes they’ll transform the audience as well.  Some into skeletons, others into purple-hued zombies, and sometimes weird puppet like creatures burst forth from the speakers.  The death scenes are extremely inventive, though your enjoyment of them often depends on just how much you love monster puppetry.


While the acting is often laughable, including the hammy expressions of lead singer Damian (Sal Viviano), there’s a notable appearance by Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams as one of the mothers.  Though her character sort of disappears without explanation later into the running time. Eagle-eyed slasher fans will be able to spot My Bloody Valentine’s Paul Kelman as Julie’s step-dad, a character who dies after a bizarre game of “strip gin.” Yeah. That’s the type of creativity we’re dealing with here.  When the kids do rebel, under the influence of the band’s spell, it begins in the most asinine fashion; the kids’ idea of bad behavior starts out with kicking trash cans over or making out in public. You know, super delinquent stuff. Luckily, they eventually become horny demons with penchants for murder, in the very literal sense.


There’s also a bit of incoherence with plot and editing, and the film’s ending should come as no surprise when it’s essentially spelled out in the opening sequence.  With the goofy acting, schlocky narrative, and somewhat repetitive nature of the story up until the halfway mark, this isn’t exactly quality film. Though I’d raise my eyebrow at anyone expecting as much. The ear-worm soundtrack and insanely entertaining monster sequences over shadows the film’s flaws, however.  This is the type of film to watch with fellow ‘80s horror fans, cheering at the demonic monster spectacle on display. Even better; pair this one with other ‘80s metal horror classics like Trick or Treat or Rock and Roll Nightmare a demon rock double feature. Could this be considered a good film? No, but it’s so much fun I love it anyway. And if you’re a fan of the ‘80s, you probably will too.

Rating: 6 out of 10


About the Author

Meagan Navarro is a blogger from Houston, TX. She fell in love with monsters at age four after being exposed to them via Ghostbusters, and her passion grew into an obsession for all things horror and Halloween (which is the entire month of October, as far as she’s concerned). Meagan also loves traveling and chocolate.  Follow me on twitter: @HauntedMeg

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