By Any Other Name – Black Roses (1988)

While it would seem that Black Roses would just be another lame and low-budget effort from the tail-end of the 1980s filled with awful music as the movie would center around a rock band, it was anything but. It was, surprisingly good, both the film and its music which is as much of a shock as one would have guessed before going into this picture.

What really makes it so good is that the music plays right into everything. The band, as first introduced is either dressed up as monsters or really are monsters and though the filmmakers do not tell the audience right off the hop, viewers come to know that it is the latter and that they are there to take over this town and make it their own. Each and every song, while seeming somewhat innocent when it is a ballad or a guitar-driven rock track clearly state what these creatures want to do. The lyrics to these songs are smart and it is interesting to see just how integral they are to the film, not that they essentially do anything but they do state the obvious. Yes, it is still a little silly and all but it works and it works well, creating more dread than who this band actually is. As the movie presses forward, the audience discovers that they are not just singing to the kids but converting them and making them as slaves to do their dirty work and in some cases, transforming the teens into monsters as well.

When it comes right down to it, and it usually does, there is one man standing between this band and their goal of domination and he means to free his students from the influence of these heavy metal monstrosities no matter what it takes. By the time teacher comes around to really doing anything, people have been killed, parents murdered or seduced or what have one and his favourite pupil has turned into some kind of demon intent on killing him because he would not have sex with her. All of it ends in fire and it looks to be a happy ending until one day when the news comes on, he sees that the band has survived and that they have simply moved on to another part of the world where they might ply their magic once more.

Director John Fasano does a decent job of it making Black Roses far more polished and far more palatable than his previous effort called Zombie Nightmare and he even managed to get screen legend Julie Adams to appear though she does little. John Martin takes up the lead as the hero of the film and he manages to play the hero well though a little more action sooner might have prevented most of everything that took place. Some might find this picture to be too corny as films with bands often are and there is some ridiculousness present but not enough to keep it from being a fairly good little slice of unexpected horror.

3.5 out of 5

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