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.

One comment

  1. The “Big Three” in the metalsploitation sweepstakes: Black Roses, Rocktober Blood, and Trick or Treat. Luv ’em. Watch out for the hungry wall woofers and burpning tweeters!

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