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June 3, 2021

Black Roses (1988) Movie Review

You know, most of the time I try to find films that are kinda trash. Partly because they’re fun to shred, and partly because I think the people who patronize this site like the “less polished” side of film. Every now and again, though, I find a movie that is crap but manages to be entertaining at the same time. This is such a movie.

Black Roses is about a bunch of demons who have disguised themselves as a rock n roll band in order to hypnotize the public.

That’s it. That’s the only description I’ve been able to find. I have a feeling the demons want more than just to make people cluck like chickens against their wills. Don’t worry. I’ll break it down a bit more for you.


We know right from the start that this band is comprised of demons. The opening scene shows them performing at some concert venue IN demon form! When the cops come to arrest them, the audience bursts out of the arena, already transformed into demons, and wreak havoc. I mean, I’m assuming they do because that scene ends abruptly and the title screens roll.

Next thing we know, two Lamborghinis roll into the quiet little hamlet of Mill Basin. Damian (not kidding) throws the Devil Horns to his crew and they start hanging up flyers about the band playing a few concerts in town. Naturally, this God-fearing community doesn’t want the Satan music corrupting their children.

But the Mayor supports it. Remember how rock n roll used to be demonized when we were youngsters? Besides, the school board approved it so your little committee can’t really do squat here. So the parents sit in on the concert, and are relived to hear the soft rock strains coming from the Black Roses. Certainly, these 60 seconds we’ve heard are just like the rest of their music. Let’s vamoose.

I bet you can guess what happens after the adults leave, eh?

The next day, the kids are all kinda zonked out. The cool teacher, Mr. Moorhouse, assumes it’s because they were up late for the concert. But when the kids’ behavior keeps getting worse, and they attend every Black Roses performance, and then people start DYING, Mr. Moorhouse thinks something hinky is going on. And the rock band is responsible.

He takes matters into his own hands and plans to burn the stage down. You know, while the band is playing and the auditorium is filled with kids. But whatever gets the job done, amiright? He actually succeeds in setting the demons on fire and the kids escape, stumbling out into the night with no memory of what they’ve been up to the past two days (fighting, being disrespectful, having the sex, killing their parents, etc.).

*sigh* It’s over. Mill Basin beat the Devil out of town.

Or did it? Lucky for us, Mr. Moorhouse and the Mayor are sitting down to the news just as the entertainment broadcast comes on. Seems Black Roses has booked a bunch of shows in NY and a trip to tour the UK.



All right. Let’s get the bad out of the way.

Some of the acting is terrible. Mostly the high school kids, and some of the adults. But it’s a small movie filmed somewhere in Canada. This shouldn’t be a shock.

The demon makeup/monsters were actually more cute than scary. My personal favorite was the one that came out of one character’s home speaker and pulls the dad back through it (played by Vincent Pastore, whom you may remember from a little show called The Sopranos). Damian’s demon form looked more like baby Godzilla, and Julie – teacher’s pet resident goody-goody – her demon form looks like it popped straight out of a children’s comic book.

They were like adult sized Muppets.

Is there something in my teeth?

The music was rather bland for rock n roll. Very generic 80s hair metal. Honestly, I wanted to hear Damian’s rousing calls to the Devil speeches more than their music. Also, when Mr. Moorhouse ran around trying to save the town and the kids, the music sounded like something that would backing up Captain America or the Greatest American Hero. We love a good superhero, don’t we?

There’s not a lot of special effects going on. A few practical, prosthetic closeups during a couple transformations. But only one time did we get a long POV for Julie as she transforms, and they used that weird glowing purple swirling light effect that is very dated, and very 80s. Made the scene cheesier than it should have been, especially when her final form was only seen from the stomach up. I’m guessing they had the demon rolling around on some kind of wheeled contraption and ran out of money before they could hide or disguise it under a full demon body.

There were a couple of fight scenes with Mr. Moorhouse – one with Juliedemon and one with the Black Roses on stage. The punch sound effect was laughable; the weapons Moorhouse picked up to fight Julie were unintentionally hilarious (a tennis racket, tennis ball, eventually stakes her with a broken table leg). Then when he’s in the auditorium, he LITERALLY threw Julie (in human form) into the audience, like it’s some kind of active mosh pit, before swinging his fists or a giant gong mallet at Damian.

To be fair, the fight criticisms I have are also highly enjoyable. Though I don’t think they meant to make those scenes funny, it’s hard to believe that the writer wasn’t throwing in a little levity to break up the dark direction in which a bunch of kids were spiraling.

For the good acting, you shouldn’t be surprised as there were some familiar faces among the adults: Ken Swofford (tons of TV work, The Andromeda Strain), Julie Adams (Creature from the Black Lagoon), John Martin (tons of TV work). While the story does seem to center more on the kids and the rock band, John (Mr. Moorhouse) carries the majority of this film. And he does a wonderful job on those strong, broad shoulders...if only every school had one of him. *rowr*

OMG, Mr. Moorhouse's mustache power is more than I can handle!

The kills were mostly quick or off screen. But the two Julie committed were pretty fucking hard-core. She bashed her stepfather’s head in with a giant ashtray (her stepdad played by Paul Kelman, he of My Bloody Valentine fame); she murdered Mr. Moorhouse’s ex-girlfriend by sawing through her neck with a hunting knife. We got nice and close and personal on that one.

I honestly think the writer did a decent job of establishing characters. It’s easy to get pulled into how quickly the children turned on the adults. Black Roses was only in town for two days before the shit hit the fan, but since their demons, it made logical sense they wanted evil to spread quickly. And I appreciated the speedy timeline so we don’t have to wait around for the children to start changing. Mr. Moorhouse, who sees the kids every day, figures out the truth long before anyone else, and you are just as easily frustrated as he when he can’t get the Mayor to back him up.

I did enjoy the story. In Black Roses, there is LITERAL evil spreading thought the town. It’s not a bunch of bible thumping white folk whose panties have twisted in knots over PERCEIVED evil.

It’s like Footloose got fingered by The Devil’s Advocate.

One of my favorite lines comes after the Juliedemon/Mr. Moorhouse fight. He’s sitting on his kitchen floor, exhausted, the Juliedemon corpse next to him. He simply breathes out, “Fuck”, to end the scene.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Moorhouse.

Unintentionally funny, but entertaining, little slice of 80s horror.

3 hatchets (out of 5)

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