Wicked Wednesday: Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters (1972)

60s and 70s kitsch horror really gets something really right. Decades later, most of it is still watchable. From The Munsters to Scooby-Doo – all of these shows have a lasting style, an flair that makes it still attractive.

Mad Monster Party? left a lasting impression on me when I watched it three (!) years ago. The music, the puppets, the design. It was all a treat for the eyes. So I was intrigued to learn that a TV movie prequel of sorts existed called Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters. Another Rankin/Bass holiday production, but done in a traditional animated style unlike the stop motion of Party. It’s also lacking a great soundtrack which greatly counts against it!

Baron Henry von Frankenstein makes a bride for his monster, which of course means its time to plan the wedding. Only Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor, becomes jealous. But poor Igor is dragged along during every step of the planning stage.

Soon guests start arriving at the hotel for the wedding. The Invisible Family, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy – the gang is all here. The wedding guests begin mixing with the ‘regular’ hotel guests for the laughs of the audience. Meanwhile, Igor is still trying his best to stop the wedding. Though all his best efforts continue to be thwarted.

At dinner one night, the future bride is finally unveiled. She immediately causes all the men in the party to fight over her. As the men fight, Frankenstein asks Igor to watch over the bride and keep her safe before the wedding.

Nothing goes quite so smoothly for Igor as he tries to get the bride to safety. While trying to cross a lava pit, the two are attacked by a pterodactyl (because of course). But she’s eventually taken by a large yeti-like creature called Manzoola.

The wedding party and guests all set out to save the bride-to-be. And she is swiftly saved without an ounce of drama (unless you count a very cross wife of a yeti thing). After all the drama, the wedding is allowed to continue with the usual amount of pre-wedding jitters and hiccups.

While not the most Halloween of storylines, this is actually a pretty cute monster flick for the little ones. The character design is great, and nothing gets too terrifying. Though cute, it is very padded. There are very long sequences of repetitive silliness (that never-ending postal delivery scene – ugh). It hinders the movie from being perfect, but it’s still enjoyable retro fair. Great background for while you’re putting up Halloween decorations. Though I’d be disappointed if you haven’t already done so.

More than anything, though, this little TV movie reminded me I’m due a Mad Monster Party? rewatch.

Wicked Wednesday: Sabrina the Teenage Witch S3E6 “Good Will Haunting”

Well, look who didn’t make it to America? Such is the year of our Lord 2020. So (in what seems to be this year’s theme), I really needed something quick and fun to watch amidst all the general panicking I’ve been doing.

And if anything can put a strained smile on your face, it’s Nick Bakay’s Salem, who has a delightful little opening segment in Sabrina the Teenage Witch‘s Halloween episode from the third season.

Like the year before, Valerie makes Sabrina’s plans for her. She invites herself, Justine and Harvey over to Sabrina’s house for a Halloween movie night in. Though there’s just one problem: Sabrina is already set to go to with her aunts to a party no one wants to go to. One hosted by an aunt that neither Sabrina nor the other aunts have ever met.

When she does manage to get out of it, Aunt Beulah sends Sabrina a creepy doll as a gift.

Soon after, the friends arrive at Sabrina’s with movies (The Bridges of Madison County – all that was left) for a night in. But soon Sabrina finds herself haunted by the talking doll, called Molly Dolly. The doll begins causing mischief. No one can open the doors. Frankenstein’s monster and a mummy appear to chase them.

Meanwhile, Hilda and Zelda attend Aunt Beulah’s party. Despite their best attempts to get out, they find themselves stuck in the insane asylum where the party is being held. They have to do their best to fend off the cast of colourful patients at the party.

Eventually, their brains are swapped with chickens, and it’s brilliant.

The day is saved, and it’s all played off as a prank. And once again, all is well and whacky in Sabrina’s world. The episode is full of 90s sweetness and fun. The peril is silly and certain to be over by the end of the episode.

Watching old shows is always nostalgic. But in a year where we can’t go out and party ourselves, it’s so soothing to watch fictional people getting into high jinks. Thanks for all the vicarious living, TV!

Wicked Wednesday: The Visit (2015)

My poor, suffering husband. With my impending five-week trip to America, I’m running out of spare time. So he accepted to watch this week’s film with me. Because he was so generous, I let him choose what to watch.

He doesn’t really like horror movies. At this point, he’ll tolerate gialli and like things that are tinged with sci-fi. Things like Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatcher (both versions, but mostly 1978’s), and The Fly. And randomly, It Follows. Basically, nothing that is indulgently gory or directed by Eli Roth.

As always, it took forever to pick something. We’re much better at talking about what we want to watch thank actually watching anything. For about four days, we planned to watch Ringu. But we changed our minds last minute and randomly selected The Visit. It was, after all, the film that saw M. Night Shyamalan’s return to form.

We, like a couple of idiots, both admitted over the opening scenes that we didn’t care for Shyamalan’s other work. That’s not to say that he’s a bad director, but he clearly wasn’t to either of our tastes.

Yes, this was all very silly.

The Visit is one of those weird found footage movies that didn’t need to be found footage. The reasoning as to why we have cameras is pretty weak. Two children, one an aspiring filmmaker, are going to visit their grandparents they never met. To commemorate the week together, they decide to document everything. How these young children got such nice cameras is beyond me. But they have them, and they’re also pretty good at getting nice angles.

When brother and sister Tyler and Becca arrive at their grandparents’ farm, things are seemingly off to a great start. Though it isn’t long before everything gets odd. Their Nana and Pop Pop insist that the children stay in their bedroom after 9:30. On the children’s first night at the farm, Becca breaks the curfew to get a snack and spies Nana projectile vomiting everywhere.

And things get increasingly bizarre from there. Things are clearly not alright with Nana and Pop Pop. The children become more and more unsettled, but they blow it off as eccentricities of the elderly. Their mother, who is away on a cruise, seems to agree and is generally unsuspicious.

But when the children’s laptop camera is ruined by Nana’s stove cleaner, their mother can no longer see them.

Becca becomes bolder as the week goes along. She begins to investigate why her mother left home years earlier and never returned home. Each time she interviews Nana about the incident, the old woman becomes dramatically upset and refuses to talk about it.

As the final day with the grandparents draw nears, the children must face the reality of what is going on head-on.

The final twist can be guessed from a mile away, but it is still fun to watch nevertheless.

Unfortunately, and this is a twist you will see coming, neither my husband nor I liked this movie. At all. It felt very long and at times, very unpleasant to watch. There are some excellent moments in this, though. The actors who played Nana and Pop Pop are excellent. They’re genuinely creepy.

But I think this movie fell victim to a number of things. The build-up and creep factor were constantly interrupted with “character building”. Only, I didn’t really like either of the children so I didn’t really care about their internal monologues. There was also a lot of blank space that could have been filled with something (thinking Paranormal Activity-style).

As stated earlier, this didn’t need to be a found footage movie. The interviews broke up the suspense too much. And the reasoning for having the cameras was so weak it became distracting. Unless every child now knows how to work a camera and create excellent cinematography. I do have a lot of faith in this younger generation, but boy, who know they were so talented?

Host taught us this earlier in the year: if your feature film in under 90 minutes, it can still be a feature film. The Visit did not need to be as long as it was. There wasn’t enough happening to fill that time, making the movie feel very long and slow. Good found footage movies rely very heavily on the building of suspense. Unfortunately, this movie became a series of weird incidents with very little plot. If the children could have investigated the mysterious happenings in a different local, I think it would have been more satisfying.

We have only ourselves to blame. When you pick out a movie by a director that you don’t usually care for, chances are you aren’t going to like this movie either, idiot. So this is definitely a case of it’s us, not Shyamalan.

Wicked Wednesday: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

My “to watch” list of movies always gets longer and never shorter. And there are some movies that sit there for years as I grow increasingly nervous to watch them. It might be because there’s too much hype around it or I’m afraid I’ll like it too much. (Yes this is a genuine fear I have.)

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a movie I have both wanted to watch but avoided for years. This movie has a Reputation for being awful. But it finally came to a point where I was so intrigued by the mystery that I clicked play before I could stop myself.

And what unfolded before me was…surprisingly just ok?

Unlike most horror series, Book of Shadows takes a vastly different approach than the first installment. While the original is an icon of the found-footage subgenre, Book of Shadows returns to a more commercial, standard style. Though it does open with a variety of footage at the beginning showing the hype following the success of the first film.

Book of Shadows is a study into the blurring of fiction and reality. Obsessed with the debate around it is the group of kids this film follows. Some are ardent that it is mass hysteria. Others believe that the mystery must be founded in some sort of truth.

The group take a Witch Hunt Tour led by former psych-patient and Blair Witch-obsessive Jeff. He tells them that they will be camping at the ruins of Rustin Parr’s house, where children were murdered decades earlier.

They set up their cameras and soon get to partying. Though they’re soon interrupted by a rival tour group, who are quickly sent packing to Coffin Rock.

That morning, the group wake up without having any memories of most of the night. They discover that Jeff’s cameras are ruined and Tristen and Stephen’s work for their book is torn to unsalvageble scraps. When Jeff finds his footage in the hole where Heather’s was the year before, Tristen has a miscarriage.

The group pack up after a hospital visit and head to Jeff’s. Once there, the group realise they might be descending into madness. As bits of the night are remembered and the found footage is reviewed, the group become increasingly disconscerted.

As things get more intense, the group become more accusatory and aggressive towards each other. But is it the Blair Witch? Is it mass hysteria? Or is it something else entirely?

When the credits began to roll, I felt genuinely confused and worried that I had also gone crazy. This movie is hated in the horror community and the film world at large. But why?

There are genuinely great moments here. Certainly enough to warrant a watch. Yes, it slowly declines into a slow, boring mush but good god, have I watched worse. A lot worse. Call it whatever you want, but there are movies with a lot less style and vision that have a significantly higher acceptance among both viewers and critics.

I had to frantically search articles about the movie. Was it possible that my tastes were so off? Thankfully, I found a number of articles from the likes of Bloody Disguisting and Dread Central re-evaluating the movie decades following its release. Maybe we can all start a support group.

Like it’s predecessor, Book of Shadows had a lot happening behind the scenes. Only this time, it wasn’t a positive creative force and brilliant marketing. Director Joe Berlinger had a lot of studio interference with this movie. There was pressure after the success of the first film to make this another hit. Apparently, the studio wanted a more straight-forward film instead of Berlinger’s vision of a “descent into madness”.

There’s a supposedly a huge demand for a Berlinger Cut of the film. I’d gladly watch it if it ever was released. There are so many nuggets of interesting bits here, it would be great to explore it again.

I honestly think Book of Shadows is going to get Season of the Witch treatment in the coming years. We can already see it in the articles I linked above. If both films had been standalones, I highly doubt either would have ever received the overwhelming criticism. Neither as iconic as their originals but not nearly bad enough to be as hated as they are.

Now I’ve also heard whisperings that the third film, Blair Witch (2016) is not as bad as everyone says. Count me in. I’m in the mood to be forgiving some sins.

Wicked Wednesday: Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)

What a week it has been. WHAT A WEEK. All the worry and stress of the last few days has reduced me to watching yet another Disney Channel Original movie. When in doubt, check your mind out with a mindless movie, right?

Don’t Look Under the Bed is a movie I certainly remember existing when I was a kid. But upon watching it, I discovered I didn’t remember a thing about it.

It’s got all the usual makings of a Disney Channel ‘horror’ movie: there is vaguely creepy creature designs, a plucky MC who is a bit quirky, and the zany family that never existed on any plane of reality. There’s never any real terror, but it’s certainly enough to keep a kid up at night.

Frances is a smart, realistic girl. She believes in facts and all things proven. When strange things begin to happen around her small town, she tries her best to explain it away.

But soon Frances notices a boy around town. He continues to mysteriously appear and disappear throughout her day. When she finally confronts her, he seems surprised she notices him at all before vanishing again.

Frances eventually corners the boy and learns that he is Larry Houdini: imaginary friend. She realises that she is the only person who can see him. Stuck with the eccentric character, Frances learns that it’s the Boogey Man who is causing all of her problems. As things get stranger, Frances becomes the number one suspect in the pranks.

Larry admits to Frances that he was once her little brother Darwin’s former imaginary friend. Frances told Darwin to start believing in science and less imagination when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Due to Frances’s meddling, Larry is slowing turning into a Boogey Man as well. When the Boogey Man takes Darwin, Larry and Frances must team up to go under the bed and get him back.

Under the bed (called Boogeyworld – a complete missed opportunity not naming it Boogeyland), the team come face-to-face with a Boogey Man. Once a frightened Darwin begs for Larry’s help, Larry returns to normal.

Frances later realises that the Boogey Man who kidnapped Darwin is her own childhood imaginary friend. By calling the Boogey Man by its name, Zoe, the imaginary friend breaks from her Boogey Man shell.

When the team return to the real world, they realise that the trouble isn’t quite over with yet.

This is a pretty cute made-for-TV movie. I can see why it is one of the more iconic ones of its era. These candy-coloured 90s movies are still pretty decades later. The solid practical effects and make-up stop it from looking too dated (but yes, it looks pretty silly in some bits).

Without having any nostalgia for the movie, I can’t say I genuinely loved it. But it is funny with some solid performances from Erin Chambers and Ty Hodges as Frances and Larry. I would certainly recommend it to anyone with a young family for Halloween.

Watching some of these wholesome children’s movies can be nice. It’s not going to change the world, but Don’t Look Under the Bed is a nice bit of wholesomeness if you’re brain is too fried.

Wicked Wednesday: Are You Afraid of the Dark? S3E1 “The Tale of the Midnight Ride”

I swear London’s 90-degree+ heatwave was only last week. How have we landed in autumn already?

This year is a weird time paradigm. It’s both going incredibly fast, and yet anything that happened before March literally feels like a lifetime ago. So believe it or not, Halloween season is already upon us.

Calling to me this week was the familiar and comfortable. And where best to start than with an episode of my forever-favourite Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Still waiting on getting those episodes of the 2019 miniseries over in the UK. Hint-hint.)

Turns out episode 1 of the third season is very Halloween-y indeed.

In the third season, we see the exit of two members of the Midnight Society, David and Kirsten. Weirdly, I always remembered Kirsten being around a lot longer than she was. This episode introduces us to Tucker, Gary’s brother and one of the more memorable kids from the show.

It’s his responsibility to prove he has what it takes to be a part of the society. He begins with a classic ghost story: a twist on the Legend of Sleepy Hallow.

In modern-day Sleepy Hallow, Ian is the new kid at school. He quickly befriends Katie, a classmate with a seriously obnoxious ex-boyfriend. They bond as they get ready for the Halloween dance together, much to the chagrin of the ex, Brad.

The night of the dance both Ian and Katie arrive in their finest colonist gear. They hit it off and dance together, but soon Brad gets involved. He tells Ian that he has to retrieve the pumpkin from the bridge in order to be “initiated”.

Despite Katie’s insistence that no one has ever done this, Ian decides to take on Brad’s challenge. Only of course when he arrives, he falls for Brad’s Headless Horseman prank. Despite looking foolish at overreacting to Brad’s prank, Ian still wins over Katie. The two decide to walk home together.

Before they can leave the woods, Ian helps a lone horseman with directions – the man is lead away from the bridge.

When Ian and Katie are later back at the school, they come face-to-face with the real Headless Horseman. They must use their wits and knowledge of the legend to beat the spirit.

This episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? isn’t a particularly memorable one. Though it is still a crowd-pleaser with both the society and me (and that’s what truly matters). It certainly puts you straight into the Halloween mood.

Children’s shows can often be the best source of Halloween fun. And I think this episode really is a prime example of it. Sure it’s not ground-breaking, but the slightly-silly costumes and the use of one of America’s best ghost stories are excellent.

So Halloween season is officially off to a good start. While I normally don’t go for Halloween content this early on the blog, why the hell not this year? What are your favourite shows or films to revisit for Halloween?

I’m quarantining with my sister for two weeks in October, and it will be up to her what we watch. So, I guess look forward to that?

(Ps: Shudder are currently celebrating 61 days of Halloween. Join in!)

Wicked Wednesday: Solstice (2008)

This week’s movie taught me two things:

  1. How to spell solstice.
  2. 2000’s title graphics are the worst.

And perhaps a third: sometimes when you make one of the most influential movies of all time, it’s really difficult to make a worthy follow-up.

Solstice is the third movie from director Daniel Myrick, who was the co-director of The Blair Witch Project. Arguably one of the most ambitious independent films of all time. One of the first to really use the internet to its advantage to create a mythos bigger than “just a movie”.

So when you make something so creative, where do you go from there? Well…I guess it’s making one of the most cookie-cutter horror remakes you can.

Now I don’t dislike Solstice. Though it’s difficult to have any strong feelings about it. It’s pretty damn boring.

In some ways, the premise very similar to Midsommar (which had to have taken plenty of inspiration from the Danish Midsommer, of which Solstice is based on). A girl seeks peace following the death of her sister. Let me know why so many vaguely-pagan movies love dead sisters. Thanks.

Following the suicide of Megan’s twin sister, Sophie, the Christmas before, Megan goes to her family’s beach house for some rest. Tagging along with her is her motley group of friends – including Sophie’s former boyfriend.

It’s not easy having fun around a girl whose sister just died. And the weekend is essentially ruined by Megan’s assistance that her sister is haunting her. She keeps finding the toy bear on a keychain that Sophie died with. No matter how much she tries to get rid of it, the little bear finds its way back.

When Megan meets Nick, the boy from a local gas station, she finds a kindred spirit. The two bond over local midsummer folklore. Nick gives her a magazine on local traditions and later explains to her that midsummer is when the world of the dead is closest to the living.

As the weekend moves along, Megan becomes more tightly wound. Following a meeting with a local gent, she begins to suspect that there is more to the mystery around Sophie’s death than she originally believed.

The mystery is semi-decent. If you’re willing to sit through a few slow-moving scenes, Solstice isn’t too shabby. In some ways, it subverted all my expectations by not being a slasher. Though I think the movie could have done with a good killing. Just for a bit of spice, I guess. But this movie is certainly one thing: forgettable.

I often believe that making a movie that evokes nothing from its viewers can be the worst type of movie. If I hadn’t had The Blair Witch Project on my mind so much recently, I might not have ever taken the time to watch this. And going forward, the only thing I’ll probably remember about this one is who the director is.

Wicked Wednesday: Season of the Witch (1973)

There seems to be something about horror movies called Season of the Witch that really piss people off. This week’s George A Romero film has quite a few things in common with the Halloween instalment it shares its name with.

For one, they’re both breaking from their moulds. Halloween III was notoriously the first in the franchise that didn’t feature Michael Myers. For that, it was slated by both fans and critics. Thankfully it’s been resurrected in recent years. I, for one, adore it and all its zaniness.

While Romero’s Season of the Witch isn’t hated exactly, it’s certainly frequently overlooked. There are pockets of his filmography that horror fans tend to simply skip over for lack of the undead.

Following the comedy There’s Always Vanilla, Romero returns to the genre that made him famous, if only with a lighter touch.

Joan is a bored housewife. She’s ignored by her husband and seemingly lives a rather unfulfilling life. When she learns that a practising witch has moved into the neighbourhood, Joan begins to develop an interest in the occult.

Soon after, Joan meets Gregg, an acquaintance and casual sexual partner of her freewheelin’ daughter, Nikki. The tension between Joan and Gregg quickly grows, both emotional and sexual.

Nikki soon flees the house after she learns that her mother has heard her having sex with Gregg one night. Distraught, Joan tries to locate her runaway daughter. This brings her even closer to Gregg, especially once she starts dabbling in magic.

Using her new powers, Joan begins to pull Gregg nearer to her while her husband is away yet again. But she’s also plagued by nightmares of being attacked in the night.

When things finally come to a head for Joan, it’s difficult to tell what she really wants. If the tragedies in her life are an accident or of her own making.

Night of the Living Dead had a lot of different subtexts. On the surface, though, it could be discounted as a zombie film, making it easy for most people to digest (hehe). If you didn’t agree with Romero’s politics, you can focus on the zombies. But Season of the Witch is not subtle. At all.

Throughout the film, there’s a constant repetition of several themes and imagery: the use of a leash and collar around Joan’s neck, the masked intruder, the ways people manipulate each other with different forms of “magic”. Romero has plenty to say on it all: the toxic masculinity that still lingered from the 50s, the counterculture of the 60s and 70s, and the struggle of living in a world in between the two.

It had a surrealist take on 70s feminism that reminded me of similar genre movies like The Witch Who Came from the Sea that followed a few years later. Both, incidentally, are bizarre and a bit uneven. Though there’s something very powerful about stories from that era when they are focused on themes of liberation.

Apparently the movie suffered greatly before its release. The budget was slashed. The distributors dismantled it and tried to turn it into softcore porno. There are certainly reasons why this movie isn’t as successful as some of Romero’s other works. But I think the themes and the way they are attacked (plus some great acting from Jan White as Joan) make this memorable, if soft and understated.

Season of the Witch probably won’t please most Romero fans who are looking for more in the way of the gore in Land or Dawn of the Dead. But if you love Romero for his ability to bring real-life horrors into the supernatural realm, there is definitely something to be gained by watching it.

Wicked Wednesday: The Last Broadcast (1998)

A couple weeks back I talked about how much I enjoyed Host but am dreading the inevitable half-assed copy-cats that will appear in its wake.

It’s a common thing in the movie industry, though. Something does really well, so that must mean we want 1,000 versions of it, right? The horror genre can be particularly bad at this: slasher movie franchises and countless reboots that no one wanted.

Now I had never heard of The Last Broadcast before. But inspired by our enjoyment of Host, my husband and I began looking into found-footage movies that we’d never seen before. The Last Broadcast seemed interesting to me as it appeared just before the mammoth Blair Witch Project was released in 1999.

In a number of articles I read, both films are blamed for copying the other. But in the early era of the internet, it would be almost impossible to rip the other off. Especially considering how long both took to plan then go into production. They were released within months of each other.

And frankly, at a surface-level glance, it might seem like the two are very similar. The Last Broadcast, like Blair Witch, follows a group of filmmakers chasing a myth in the pursuit of a story.

But in the early-era of the internet, this isn’t that surprising. We were only just beginning to explore what we could share online. Deah, mysteries and the supernatural must have been a hotbed for early geeks.

Blair Witch presents the recovered footage in an almost unedited form. But The Last Broadcast takes the Cannibal Holocaust route. We have the footage edited within a documentary.

This documentary is hosted by David Leigh, a bit of a Jonathan Richman but if Richman were an alien introducing a documentary.

David takes the viewers through the story of the murders of the crew of a cable-access show called Fact or Fiction. The show was presented by two hosts trying to track down the answers to their local mysteries. But while it saw initial success, it was on its last legs, desperate for attention. After an anonymous tip from an IRC (no idea what this is), they begin to investigate the story of the Jersey Devil.

The story jumps around the timeline: from after the murder to before the boys first meet their new director, sound guy and psychic, then back to after the murders.

The psychic, Jim Suerd, is the only survivor of the ill-fated journey into the woods. According to the edited footage, he’s erratic and a total con-artist. He’s also the most obvious suspect in the murder: he survived where his friends died, and the police find his clothes covered in blood.

But while David is seemingly convinced Jim is the culprit, Jim dies in jail under mysterious circumstances. Without the number one suspect, can anyone be certain who the killer is?

When David receives sent hours of footage from an unknown sender, he tasks a woman with correcting the footage for him. As the process carries on, we’re pulled closer and closer to the big reveal. In this documentary, nothing is quite as it seems. And we’re left with asking ourselves, “What really is Jersey Devil?”

And you get the answer. Sort of. Only the film gets a bit confused and doesn’t stick its landing. It commits a sin that I really hate in horror movies: when elements of magic or surrealism are introduced too late into the film, not matching the tone of the rest of the film (looking at you, Hereditary). It’s a shame it came out before The Blair Witch Project because it could have learned a lesson from that movie: sometimes less really is more. Leave it to the audience’s imaginations.

But I’m a sucker for a mockumentary. And The Last Broadcast is a pretty solid and enjoyable found-footage film. It’s pretty fun to watch the filmmakers utilize all new digital media, even if I didn’t really understand what was going on.

I can only imagine the story behind its making. It was supposedly made for $900! If anything, watching this movie only solidified the fact that the 90s were really trying new things. The decade doesn’t quite get the credit it deserves.

Wicked Wednesday: Black Roses (1988)

Horror and heavy metal are one of the most iconic pairings. Probably up there with peanut butter and jelly, Laurel and Hardy, and Italians and eyeballs.

Whether it’s intentional or not, the two attract the outsiders. The frustrated people on the fringes. They often share themes and imagery. Unlike say, the punk genre, heavy metal can be more fantastical. Getting to the point: everyone here likes demons.

It’s no accident that Black Roses was released in 1988 in the years following Tipper Gore, the PMRC and the Fifthly Fifteen. Horror often likes to see itself as anti-establishment, and where better to explore that in the 1980s than through metal music?

There’s something dark about metal. Sure it might be because everyone wears black and facepaint. But it’s also a genre that deals with pain and aggression. But instead of making the metal kids the stars, Black Roses looks at what would happen if metal music really was as dangerous and satanic as Tipper claimed.

When an up-and-coming metal band named the Black Roses arrive in Mill Basin, they’re there to cause a stir. Despite being such a large act, the band had supposedly never played out of the studio before. So Mill Basin is the warm-up.

The parents don’t like it. Their town is small and undisturbed with plenty of great kids. Only they’re blind to their own shortcomings, missing the fact that many of the children are lonely and neglected by their parents. But despite their best efforts, the concert series still goes ahead.

The one beacon of light is Mr Matthew Moorhouse, the English teacher. He’s a cool dude. The kids like him. You know, not like those other teachers. He has a framed photo of himself with three students on his wall. He’s a great guy!

Matthew is indeed our hero, but not a very compelling one. Though he does drive a Ford Probe like I used to, so there are some redeeming qualities.

Each night the teenagers go to see the Black Roses, they become more ‘satanic’. And Mr Moorhouse becomes more suspicious. It soon becomes clear that the Black Roses have sinister intentions.

Things escalate pretty quickly in Mill Basin. The teens become lethargic on the first day. But soon demons are climbing out of speakers and killings parents. Girls are trying to sleep with their friend’s fathers. It’s all pretty manic and hilarious in a great, campy way.

But Matthew is there to ruin all the fun…I mean save the day. He’s got to take down the demonic Black Roses if it’s the last thing he does.

In some ways, Black Roses tries to be subversive. It’s for metalheads, but the metal band isn’t who you should be rooting for. You’re rooting for a nerdy dude who gets endless crap from his ex for being a caring teacher.

As a former-ish metalhead, I really dug this one. It’s wild and hilarious. It has some really zany moments with creature effects that reminded me of the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama. Don’t come for the acting, but stay for the utter mayhem.