Black Roses

09/28/2022 06:39

Film: Black Roses

Year: 1988

Director: John Fasano

Writer: Cindy Cirile

Starring: John Martin, Ken Swofford and Sal Viviano



This is a movie that I hadn’t heard of until the Summer Challenge Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs. I put it on a list of movies to check out. I believe since hearing it there, it was covered elsewhere. It is one that I hadn’t heard a lot about. I’m now doing the Summer Series so I put this on a list of movies to check out as a potential pick.

Synopsis: demons hypnotize the public by posing as a rock and roll band.

We start this off with seeing our band from the synopsis. Their name is Black Roses and we see the performing on stage. They’re demons there so this movie isn’t pulling its punches or hiding it. We then shift to a small town where two expensive sports cars roll in. The lead singer is Damian (Sal Viviano). He gets out and has a stack of posters. He has people that are with him go put them up and spreading the word.

Our main character though is Matthew Moorhouse (John Martin). He is an English teacher and he seems popular with the students. Through his class we get to meet the other characters. There is Johnny Pratt (Frank Dietz). He wants out of this town, but he doesn’t think he will. He has a crush on Julie Windham (Karen Planden). She has a crush on her teacher. Homelife isn’t great with her mother who works a lot and her stepfather being creepy. There is also Vinny Apache (Carmine Appice), Tony Ames (Tony Bua), Jason Miller (Jesse D’Angelo), Tina (Robin Stewart) and Janey Miller (Patricia Strelioff) to name a few. They’re all excited about this rock band coming to their small town. It gives them hope for a place where not a lot goes on.

Their parents aren’t so thrilled. They’re led by Mrs. Miller (Julie Adams) as she heads up the group to prevent them from playing. Most parents in town seem to agree with her. In opposition is Mayor Farnsworth (Ken Swofford). He points out that it is no different from the music that their parents hated when they were younger. It also feels a bit like the revenue that comes with them playing there is swaying him.

Much to their surprise, the parents attend the first concert and the band isn’t anything like they thought. That is until they all leave. The band then shows its true colors and plays the music that the teens were expecting. This is just the beginning as crime rises and people are killed.

That is where I’ll leave my recap for the movie. Where I want to start with breaking this down is that I like the commentary here. This would be the tail end of the Satanic panic, but this movie is poking fun at parents speaking out against musicians. We would see this going on into the 90s as well. This is taking their fears literally. What if the rock band your parents were worried about is a group of demons that take over teenagers and make them do horrible things? I was going back and forth while watching this movie. Putting my thoughts down, I think this is satirical in nature and makes a good point. The execution doesn’t fully work though.

What I mean there was that this movie had some issues for me. I found it odd that Matthew is so concerned with his students. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. There is a rumor that he and Julie have feelings for each other, which is inappropriate. That doesn’t escalate until later. I can also see why the parents aren’t as concerned after they go to the opening act of the concert. Many are killed soon after so that explains it. To deepen why this doesn’t work is that the tone is off. I’m surprised that this was listed as a comedy. There are things happening here that are funny. The music doesn’t help. It is whimsical which fits at times and others it doesn’t. When we have Black Roses on stage, that is great. The other selections took me out of the movie and I felt they were off. The ending also feels disjointed for what we get here.

This is all a shame though as I like the premise of the movie. Having parents’ worst nightmare come true is great. They are also possessing all their fans in a way and having them sin. We get things like murder, fornication and vandalism. It is all the things that parents are concerned with. Those elements you have me onboard with. We even have people turning into demons and creatures attacking at times which I also liked. Some of the effects looked a bit cheesy, but they were practical so I’m there for it.

I think I should take this then to the acting. I thought that Martin was solid enough as our lead. It sets up him as this cool teacher who listens to his students. We have flashes that he could have an inappropriate relationship with a student, but nothing has happened yet. It doesn’t fit for me personally to have him doing some of things that he is, but as our lead he must. I’d say the students are all solid. They feel like angsty teens of the 1980s. Some look a bit old, but that’s the era. The women are good looking and we get a fair amount of nudity. I also liked the band that we get. It is one of my sweet spots for music.

The last thing that I wanted to go into would the cinematography. This movie feels at times like this is shooting a 1980s rock music video and I dig it. I do wish this would have held off showing that we are dealing with demons and allow that to be a reveal as things go on. Regardless, I think that how this was shot was good. We get some interesting angles throughout. One thing I noticed is any time Julie is shown topless, we don’t see her head. That is strategic to hide that it is a body double. Credit to them for that.

In conclusion here, this is a fun movie. We are getting a satirical look at the fears of parents with their children listening to music they consider dangerous. This is showing if they are right. I like this concept. Having the teens do bad things due to possession works for me. I think that acting is fine for the most part. No one stands out, but no one is overly bad either. The cinematography is interesting. The music that Black Roses plays is good, but I didn’t love the other selections. It didn’t fit the scenes for me. The effects were practical, which I’m a fan of. I had some issues with execution here despite my enjoyment. This is an above average movie for me.


My Rating: 7 out of 10