BLACK ROSES (1988) – This legendarily laughable attempt at a horror film belongs to quite a few niche sub-genres. It’s a Canadian horror movie, it’s one of the wonderfully campy Heavy Metal Horror productions of the 1980s and most importantly for trivia lovers Black Roses is one of the Big Three Canadian turkeys to feature Frank Dietz in a supporting role. (The other two are Rock’N’Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare. )
Dietz looked too young to be a police detective in Zombie Nightmare and he looks too OLD to be a high school student in Black Roses. But that’s part of his – and the movie’s – charm. He also plays one of the Black Roses in monster form during the film.
You want more kitsch-casting? How about Julie Adams of Creature From The Black Lagoon playing an elderly frump outraged over Heavy Metal’s supposed “Satanic” element?
How about noted musician Carmine Appice as Vinny Apache, one of the demonic members of the band Black Roses?
How about Vincent Pastore from The Sopranos as a Heavy Metal-hating parent who pays for that by getting mauled by a $1.49 spider-puppet AND getting sucked into a speaker playing Black Roses songs?
And finally, how about Ken Swofford as Mayor Farnsworth, an amiable politician who sticks up for Heavy Metal music … and whose hot-to-trot daughter Priscilla is played by Carla Ferrigno?
This movie starts out with a scene of Black Roses performing for a packed venue of head-bangers. The lead singer Damian (Sal Viviano) and the others are in monster-forms which get uglier and uglier until they go wild and begin attacking everyone. They move like zombies even though we find out later they’re demons from Hell.
After the opening credits we jump ahead a few years to the movie’s present day. Black Roses will be making their first concert appearance since the bedlam from years back. They’ve continued releasing records in the intervening time and are loved by the young nationwide.
For their comeback appearance (forget about ever learning what the in-world fallout was from the massacre at their previous live concert) they’ve chosen to play THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW in the quiet town of Mill Basin (which employs both American AND Canadian flags in a less-than- successful attempt to conceal the film’s north-of- the-border origins).
The parents of Mill Basin are against letting Black Roses perform because this was during the 1980s uproar about Heavy Metal music being Satanic and supposedly causing suicides and murders among fans.
You know the drill from here – the Mayor and a few teachers side with the kids and the Black Roses concerts proceed as planned. After each night’s show the teenagers of Mill Basin become increasingly evil and begin killing off the adults.
At the third and final concert the teenagers in the audience all turn into Satanic monsters in cheap masks just like the members of Black Roses.
SPOILERS: The kids’ favorite, blandest teacher shows up at the concert and tries to save their souls from eternal damnation. Damian turns into a “demon lizard” even lamer than the one in Gene Roddenberry’s Spectre. The teacher takes on Damian in a fight scene at least as ridiculous as the famously lame final battle from Rock’N’Roll Nightmare.
For some reason dynamite and fire cause the seeming destruction of Black Roses. Demons from Hell? Dying from fire? That’s like fish drowning! At any rate it turns out that months later Black Roses shows up again, this time about to perform before an enormous crowd in Madison Square Garden, meaning countless teens will be transformed into Satanic killers … unless someone throws a lit match or something at Damian. +++
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