BLACK ROSES (1988) Reviews and overview

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‘Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, but don’t watch it alone!’

Black Roses is a 1988 Canadian/American supernatural horror film co-produced and directed by John Fasano (The Jitters; Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare) from a screenplay by Cindy Cirile [as Cindy Sorrell].

The Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment production stars John Martin, Ken Swofford, Julie Adams, Carla Ferrigno, Sal Viviano and Carmine Appice.


The sleepy little town of Mill Basin is about to get more than it bargained for. The satanic heavy metal rock band Black Roses is coming through to raise hell… literally! After making a deal with the Devil himself, the band’s music demonically possesses the kids in the audience, turning them into bloodthirsty demons. The blood flows as they start killing their parents and causing chaos at their local high school…


“It suffers further from some of the most thoroughly incompetent camera-work I’ve ever seen, offering not a single shot that is pleasing to the eye, and many that are affronts to both narrative sense and aesthetic sensibility. The dialogue is witless from beginning to end, especially when writer Cindy Cirile is trying to make Damian sound threatening…” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

” …goofy 1980’s atmosphere with dozens of weird puppets, bizarre dialogue and hair metal soundtrack cuts. Don’t miss the screen debut of The Soprano‘s Vincent Pastore, who is sucked into a stereo speaker. Silly but undeniably fun to watch…” Canuxsploitation!

“It was really fun, cheesy and clever throughout, and even though it’s obviously super low-budget and not all that well made, it’s very genial, funny and energetic. Everything about this movie is hilarious and yet awesome at the same time. It was obviously made with a lot of love both for horror films and metal music…” Cinema de Merde

“It is kind of hilarious to see the actors going for it, trying to believe they are fighting a real thing and not some lousy, low budget hand puppet. And speaking of the actors, some of the them look like they are reading their lines from a card board! To top things off, the teenagers are played by actors who are obviously not teenagers!” The Film Connoisseur

“Straightforward story, pearl necklaces, glowing demon hand, quick pace, goofy songs, four topless scenes, demon getting kicked in the demon nuts, Julie Adams, a Dawn of the Dead poster, a Slumber Party Massacre poster, demon choking on a tennis ball, two Lamborghini’s, fog machine, a Cro-Mags shirt…” Happyotter

Black Roses is cheap and silly in the best possible ways, but also remarkably professional and continually engaging […] Though the film shows very little respect for metal fans, it’s fun to see the worst nightmares come true instead of patiently explaining the virtues of heavy metal yet again!” Mike McPadden, Heavy Metal Movies

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” …some of the practical effects used in Black Roses are really fun to see and that adds a lot to the experience. The story remains fairly grounded outside of the whole demonic metal band angle, so there’s not a lot of wild dialogue. There are some gems to discover, but not as many wacky lines as you might think.”  Marc Fusion

“I wish the music was better, but it’s good enough. The effects are good, though some of the masks look like a cheap department store purchase. It’s a bit whimsical, a lot absurd, and totally fun.” Morbidly Beautiful

“With the goofy acting, schlocky narrative, and somewhat repetitive nature of the story up until the halfway mark, this isn’t exactly quality film [….] The ear-worm soundtrack and insanely entertaining monster sequences overshadows the film’s flaws, however.” Rare Horror

” …entertainingly dopey with lots of chintzy effects, decent enough acting (John Martin is good as the teacher hero), a sort of brutal “ashtray” moment, a surprisingly literate script at times and lots of satirical jabs at the PMRC (Tipper Gore’s music censorship group).” The Video Graveyard


Cast and characters:

John Martin … Matthew Moorhouse
Ken Swofford … Mayor Farnsworth
Sal Viviano … Damian
Julie Adams … Mrs Miller
Frank Dietz … Johnny Pratt / Demon Guitarist
Carla Ferrigno … Priscilla Farnsworth
Carmine Appice … Vinny Apache
Tony Bua … Tony Ames (as Anthony C. Bua)
Karen Planden … Julie Windham
David Crichton … Mr Miller (as Dave Crichton)
Jesse D’Angelo … Jason Miller
Keith Miller … Doctor Marshall (as Kieth Miller)
Paul Kelman … Julie’s Stepdad
Robin Stewart … Tina
Patricia Strelioff … Janey Miller


Black Roses was given a limited release theatrically in the United States on November 1, 1988. It was subsequently released on VHS by Imperial Entertainment Corp.

Released on DVD in the United States by Synapse Films in 2007. Special features include:

Audio Commentary With Director John Fasano, Writer Cindy Sorrell, Star Carla Ferrigno and Others
Rare Original Cannes Film Festival Promo
Audition Videotape Excerpts
Original Theatrical Promotion Trailer

The soundtrack was released on CD by Metal Blade Records.

Bang Tango – “I’m A Stranger”
Black Roses – “Dance on Fire”
Black Roses – “Soldiers of the Night”
Black Roses – “Rock Invasion”
Black Roses – “Paradise (We’re on Our Way)”
David Michael-Phillips – “King of Kool”
Hallow’s Eve – “D.I.E.”
King Kobra – “Take It Off”
Lizzy Borden – “Me Against the World”
Tempest – “Streetlife Warrior”


In the UK, the BBFC censored the VHS release by 31 seconds to avoid the corruption of young minds and rioting in the streets.


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