Saturday, October 13, 2007


Heavy metal rock music got a bad rap back in the late Eighties, with parents groups and TV religious leaders loudly denouncing the music of several high profile bands as "Satanic." There was a fear that heavy metal would corrupt the impressionable minds of teenagers, brainwashing them with subversive lyrics and subliminal messages of evil. 1988’s BLACK ROSES plays off that paranoia with its very dated, somewhat goofy tale of rock & roll horror.

A heavy metal rock band with a few successful studio albums goes on tour, and makes its first stop in a small town, where it’ll play the local high school auditorium for three nights. After the first show, the kids start acting up, and the local English teacher (soap opera vet John Martin) starts getting suspicious. Turns out he has a right to be alarmed, as the band’s music turns kids into demons! Can the teacher save his students from the infernal influence of the Black Roses and their charismatic front man, Damien (Sal Viviano)?

With rubbery monsters, gratuitous boobage, some fairly decent music and an early role by THE SOPRANOS’ Vincent Pastore (who is eaten by a stereo) and Lou Ferrigno’s wife, Carla, BLACK ROSES was director John Fasano’s slightly more polished follow-up to his notorious ROCK ‘N ROLL NIGHTMARE of the previous year (also available from Synapse Films). Very much a product of its era, and clearly made on the cheap, it’s still fairly entertaining as long as you don’t take it seriously.

The DVD from Synapse Films features a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer mastered from the original camera negative in high-def. It still shows its age though, with a slightly soft image and a few specks here and there. The Dolby Stereo mix is adequate, but unspectacular. The best bonus feature is a very entertaining commentary track by director Fasano, writer Cindy Sorrell, actress Carla Ferrigno, and Fasano’s kids (the daughter makes the best comments). Also included are some trailers and audition tapes.

Back in the VHS days, this one sported a flashy, 3-D embossed box, and that is still probably the most memorable thing about BLACK ROSES. But every movie is somebody’s favorite, especially in the horror genre. So if you’re a fan of this one, the DVD is a very respectable presentation, and worth picking up.

BUY: Black Roses