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  Black Roses Monsters Of Rock
Year: 1988
Director: John Fasano
Stars: John Martin, Ken Swofford, Sal Viviano, Julie Adams, Frank Dietz, Carla Ferrigno, Carmine Appice, Tony Bua, Karen Planden, David Crichton, Jesse D'Angelo, Keith Miller, Paul Kelman, Robin Stewart, Patricia Strelioff, Margaret Groome, Vincent Pastore
Genre: Horror, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The heavy metal band Black Roses are performing, and as they are in full flight playing to an auditorium of adoring fans their appearance has taken an unusual turn with them resembling some kind of monsters. The crowd are so caught up that they do not notice they are transforming into monsters as well, and when an official shows up to halt the show the zombified attendees burst out through the doors and go on a rampage. Somehow this news does not reach the small town of Mill Basin, where Black Roses have been booked to play the local high school for the students there, though there is still resistance from the parents there who believe the effect of heavy metal could be detrimental. They don't know the half of it...

The odd thing about the rock horror movies of the nineteen-eighties was not the way they kicked back against the controversy drummed up by the moral majority of the day who wished to ban the genre and clean up the supposedly wayward youths who listened to it, but the way these films inadvertantly or otherwise informed us the moralists were perfectly correct in their concerns, because heavy metal was indeed the path to the dark lord himself, Satan and all his minions and followers. You might have thought they would wish to distance themselves from the deeply conservative beliefs of their harshest critics, but nope, these movies said, they're right, we are utterly evil!

Not many of these productions were blessed with a whole lot of cash to splash, in fact you'd be hard pressed to think of one that cost anything more than a middling budget at best, and with director John Fasano's efforts here the lack of spending money was as noticeable as it was predictable. That said, he did appear to have a bit more than on his previous horror movie Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, which had bucked the trend by presenting its lead rocker as a heroic figure, though that refusal to go with the flow was not apparent here in what amounted to a shocker version of The Blackboard Jungle only with metal themes. Even so there was not a huge amount of concert scenes, in spite of plenty of songs recorded for the movie's soundtrack.

So our hero was not one of the suspiciously aged-looking kids of Mill Basin who sees through Black Roses and their charismatic frontman Damian (Sal Viviano, not the one who covered Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show around this period) for every single one of those teens are taken in the second they see the band perform. The parents have sat in on the first number to check everything was tickety-boo, but as they leave the previously Whitesnake-esque ballad abruptly changes into a harder rockin' tune and Damien throws off his white trenchcoat to reveal the leather breeks and thongs beneath: so are a generation brainwashed. Not only that, but they turn to crime as well, some going as far as bumping off selected adults in methods that include turning into rubber monsters and most famously sucking a certain Sopranos star into a hi-fi speaker.

To add to the middle-aged feel, the actual hero was English teacher Mr Moorhouse (John Martin, a stalwart of the soaps), who tries to corral his class into appreciating Walt Whitman but once Damian has his claws in them finds them surly, uncommunicative and eventually murderous. Can he wrestle control away from the demonic group and succeed in restoring order? The answer won't be given away here, probably because it's none to clear what was happening, with scenes of mayhem created with amusing puppets and an actual creature costume as Mr Moorhouse has to fend off the attack from his teacher's pet who turns into some abomination or other, and in the finale - well, near the finale - has to sabotage one of the shows Black Roses insists on holding at the school, going hand to hand with a transformed Damian himself as all hell breaks loose. Some of hell, at any rate, in a work that had mixed feelings about what it wanted to say on the subject of youth culture, and eventually sided with the conservatives, unless you embraced its bad guys as the real protagonists, which was certainly possible.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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