I watched Freddy Got Fingered right before this. It is generally considered one of the worst major releases ever made. I’ve never gotten Tom Green’s humor, either. But that atrocity of a movie was more watchable than Black Roses, the story of a demonic heavy metal band that comes to a small town, turns teacher’s pet students into parent-slaughtering zombies.
Sometimes I really stretch the envelope with ’80s trash, sticking in a perfectly good classic, but this is really worthy of the title. It has the production quality and idiotic script of Troll 2 without the tongue in cheek humor. The movie begins with a bunch of demons in Rob Halford gear playing onstage, turning the audience into emaciated zombies- until the police barge in and shut them down. We then cut to the sleepy town of Mills Basin, where nothing ever happens and the parents don’t like this new hard rock music their kids are getting into.
The band is Black Roses, helmed by Damian- a pretty boy with some seriously impressive ’80s hair. And I know from ’80s hair, as I had some that entire flocks of swallows could nest in on their way to Capistrano. Damian has hair ostriches could nest in. They arrive in town in their Lamborghini Countachs and act all wholesome and stuff, and soon their music is playing from every kid’s stereo. And the changes begin…
The teacher who “really cares about the kids” is Matt Moorhouse, who looks like John Stossel with his porn ‘stache; he tries to teach the kids to love poetry. But soon after Black Roses arrive, they care even less than usual. He thinks something is up, and won’t take his fellow teacher’s admonishments- that this is just like The Beatles- without investigating. It doesn’t take long for weird shit to start happening.
For example, Vincent Pastore- Big Pussy from the Sopranos- chides his son for having an earring. “Only fags and pirates wear those, and I don’t see no ship in our driveway!” Bad move, Dad. The Black Roses record starts bubbling on the turntable, then a demon bug jumps out of the speaker and pulls him right in, loafers and all. There’s a crude joke in there somewhere, but I’ll leave that up to you.
The girls start getting loose and the boys start getting violent. A girl starts spontaneously playing “strip gin” with her friend’s Dad, culminating in a heart attack for the lecherous old man. I’ve never heard of strip gin, only strip poker. But that’s part of trashy movie charm. Maybe there’s strip bridge, too. ’80s trash always manages to stick in truly gratuitous nude scenes, so even “strip gin” is an explanation of sorts; they do one better next, when one of the girls decides to play with her pencil eraser nipples for 5 minutes in front of a mirror shrine to Black Roses. “Hey, we’ve got a few minutes of film left– play with your tits for a while!” Don’t worry, they’re all after the cut if you want a peek.
The teachers are too stupid to notice that something is wrong when the kids chant “Damian!” in class instead of learning. Even Matt is clueless until his teacher’s pet, Julie, forces her way into his house and tries to force a demonic blow job on him. He pushes her away just in time to see her fangs, and then she transforms into scaly monster before his eyes, in a blur of purple light. Then he beats her to death with a tennis racket. Let’s face it, you’re not much of a demon if a high school English teacher can beat the crap out of you.
Mr. Matt is pissed off that he blue-balled during his enactment of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and goes to the hardware store to get gas cans and flares, to put an end to this evil heavy metal for good. At the concert, Damian dresses like He-Man, but they pull out all the stops once they realize the jig is up- and Matt has to fight off the zombie students and the demon band with only his two English teacher fists. Thankfully his porn ‘stache gives him power, because he is triumphant.
This movie is best known for its soundtrack, Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge slumming as the demon drummer, and Vincent Pastore getting eaten by a speaker. It’s very low budget and very tedious, with plenty of actors who’d never disgrace the silver screen again and very few laughs to ease the pain. The soundtrack is pretty good for late ’80s metal, consisting of Lizzy Borden, King Kobra, Hallow’s Eve and Bang Tango. The band Black Roses itself was King Kobra with Carmine Appice on drums, and the songs are pretty good, which makes the movie more tolerable.
It’s an interesting relic from the late ’80s when Al Gore’s wife Tipper helped start a crusade against “porn rock,” which led to the eventual “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” stickers on CD’s. The movie does have a parent’s meeting where they talk about the “evils” of the music and if it was just a bit more tongue in cheek, or even a bit clever, it could have been a minor classic. But as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap says, “There’s such fine line between clever and stupid.” And Black Roses is a long way off on the wrong side of the line.
Beers Required to Enjoy: 6
Could it be remade today? DethKlok: The Movie
Quotability Rating: zero
Cheese Factor: Velveetica
High Points: Big Pussy getting eaten by a speaker
Low Point: Gahh!! demon boobies!
Gratuitous Boobies: 3 pairs… gin!