Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rock & Roll To Steal Your Soul

List of Things to Do Before I Die:

-Read Ulysses
-Catch a foul ball at CitiField
-Beat Zombies Ate My Neighbors on Super Nintendo

-Host a film party featuring a double showing of Hard Rock Zombies and Black Roses

Black Roses is not a good film, nor does it qualify as a so-bad-it's good stinker. In the cheerfully wide catalogue of 80s horror, Black Roses represents an average 90 minutes of decent rock, poor acting, and monsters that rotate between looking evil and resembling poor man's Muppets. Yes, it does mark the dubious film debut of Vincent Pastore, but worse crimes have been committed. If Hard Rock Zombies is a bowl of melted cheddar, Black Roses is the the liquid nacho topping that shoots out ingredients you can't pronounce onto your salty movie theater tortilla chips. It's always edible, but never quite delicious.

Quick Plot: A sleepy midwestern town is visited by the country's biggest metal band, Black Roses. The school board is mildly miffed by the offensiveness of hard rock but allow the band to play a few shows for the enjoyment of the very white teenage population. After the opening night performance, one lone high school teacher notices his students committing acts of violence and (gasp!) wearing muted colors to class. The only possible explanation would be that Black Roses are agents of Satan (or maybe Satan himself; it's unclear) set to collect the souls of America's youth, one Footloose-y town at a time.

Black Roses isn't quite as much fun as it sounds, but it has its moments. As Damien, the kooshball headed lead singer, Sal Vivianno fares somewhat better than the soft-spoken Jessie of Hard Rock Zombies, but demony puppets and killer turntables don't quite match cannibal Nazi dwarves in entertainment value. Lead actor John Martin has a decent presence, but none of the kids make strong enough impressions for us to really care about their fates. So ultimately, there's nothing mind or ear-blowing about Black Roses,'s a 1988 horror about a demonic hair metal band.

High Points
The variety of monster puppets shows some ingenuity, particularly in the opening scene music video

Props to actor John Martin, who manages to pull off the role of an overly caring high school teacher with female fans and a porno mustache without coming off as overly creepy

Low Points
Did the high school band perform the elaborate and not very appropriate score?

The final heroic pun is barely audible, which would make Buffy the Vampire Slayer shake her ponytail in shame

How does one set a climax at a rock concert and not end with a stage dive?

Lessons Learned
Underage breasts are quite versatile and inconsistently sized in small towns

In the 1980s, any girl named Tina was a slut

Tennis rackets, when used correctly, make excellent tools for demon bashing

There's something about these 80s high school horror flicks that's hard to resist, and Black Roses is certainly likable in its cheesiness. Under no definition is this a scary movie, but there's a lot of low budget heart to keep it watchable. A small selection of extras includes a compilation of Damien auditions, which surprisingly reveal that Vivianno may have been the best casting choice (at least from the drudge of a pool amassed in that collection). An affectionate audio commentary by director John Fasano, screenwriter Cindy Cirile, and their teenage children is joyfully humble and good-natured, but the overall rewatchability of Black Roses isn't quite as high as you would think. A rental should suffice.

No comments:

Post a Comment