Thursday, November 29, 2007

BLACK ROSES (1988) d. John Fasano

Reviewed by Simon Oakland

Even if you've never seen BLACK ROSES before, if you're old enough to have lived through the '80s you'd almost certainly know of it as "that video at the rental store with the 3-D packaging". I personally was never suckered in by the gimmick, as back in the day I loathed 80s pop culture in general and heavy metal specifically. It was plain as day to me that BLACK ROSES just wasn't going to be my cup of tea. Yet flash forward nearly 20 years and somehow through the cosmic power of nostalgia (or possibly the power of brain damage and the onset of dementia) I have learned to take this kind of stuff with a grain of salt and have even gone so far as to now enjoy some of the cheesy, camp value inherent in the era and it's music. The same, however, cannot be said of my fellow compatriots here at Saturday Fright Special. Seeing as how I was the only one in our group that "got" the majesty and splendor of the ├╝ber-masterpiece that was ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (starring rock god Jon-Mikl Thor), it was only fitting that I should be the one to review this, director John Fasano's follow up hair metal feature, now available on DVD courtesy of Synapse Films and Ryko distribution.

In the town of Mill Basin, parents are up in arms over the upcoming series of concerts to be performed by the popular Heavy Metal band Black Roses, who strangely have never appeared in public before. Why is it that they have chosen Mill Basin, a quiet little hamlet, of all places to be the starting point of their worldwide tour? Is it just to fine tune their performance as they claim? Or is their agenda more insidious in nature?

Well.. Yeah! No real surprise there. Nor is it any surprise that Synapse has done wonders with BLACK ROSES, either. I'm not the kind of guy that would buy every DVD they release, but whenever I get wind that Synapse has acquired the rights to a film I love, I can sleep well in the knowledge that it's in the right hands. No, what surprised me is that unlike ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE, this actually looks and feels like something that could've gotten theatrical distribution at one time. Bigger budget, bigger cast, less excessive van filler... the silly, fake looking, animatronic hand puppet demons are still here, but at least they're not so shoddy as to look like people are fighting against Halloween masks on coat racks and Play-Doh ninja stars. Plus, BLACK ROSES features an early role by the guy who played Big Pussy on THE SOPRANOS. How could you go possibly go wrong with this purchase?

Definite keeper.

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