Super Duper Alice Cooper is a rare rock doc that really nails it. Coherent continuity propelled as much by visual narrative and well edited insights rather than an overly verbose sense of nostalgia, the film fires on all cylinders. This is required viewing for any would be shock rocker or performer who plans to live or play with persona. Alice Cooper is a legend if ever there was one. Some people can handle the 24/7 thing for awhile, but chances are your alter ego will eventually bite you back. There is a reason Bruce Wayne didn’t stay Batman all the time, kids.
There’s a few moments in my “career” as a rock writer that made me feel like all the blood, sweat and tears have been worth it. Getting to talk to Sylvain Sylvain the day former NY Dolls manager Malcolm Mclaren passed away was unexpected and intense. Interviewing my favorite woman in music Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux/Black Bananas not once but twice. Talking to Jane’s Addiction. But honestly getting an advance copy of this movie and knowing I get to help get the word out on the DVD release is also pretty darn validating and feels fantastic as a long time Alice fan…ever since “Feed My Frankenstein” when I was a kid myself!
The animation,contributors, editing and of course the music is fantastic. We see the rise of the early band from their Beatle Mania influenced days as The Spiders to actually gaining infamy opening for John Lennon to Alice taking on a life beyond the scope of what the band, and probably Vincent Furnier himself, ever imagined. A standout part of the film is when Alice talks in old interview footage about how rock had gone as far as it was gonna go with guitar solos and drum solos and he was pushing it forward. If a boy is gonna go home wearing eye make-up and scare his parents, that was ok.
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I personally don’t mind that Alice and Vincent became separate entities, otherwise both would have died. This film richly portrays the appeal and also the dangers of the role, with Alice seriously looking close to death at several points during his freebasing days. You really root for the guy when he gets clean. As someone who used to only perform or have sex wasted on booze or hard drugs, I could really relate to the fear and vulnerability Vincent talks about when he is about to take the stage in 1986 sober for the first time after 5 years away. Would he still have what it takes to perform and mine that dark territory without unhealthy help? This is the closing point of the film, Alice’s triumphant return on Halloween in Detroit as the Godfather of bands like Motley Crue, Wasp, Twisted Sister and their ilk. But let’s face it, he is so much cooler. The sounds of the 70’s and the Vietnam-era outcast and dissilusionment in some of his work is just tremendously great still to this day. People give Alice shit, myself included in the past, for being Republican or whatever. As much as I don’t agree with that, those are his views and one thing the Alice character proves that negates a lot of GOP arguments is that rock n roll and the dark side can coexist with a healthy life, so let’s stop demonizing rock n roll. Ironic, right?
Worth it for the visual immersion onto the time periods alone, the film is still not just a dusting off of the old photo book type affair. You are right there with the band and feel part of a journey. I forgot completely they had worked originally with Frank Zappa, so that was a blast to watch. It is a masterfully done movie with just enough lingering on certain times to make you want more but with enough clarity to keep the film moving forward at a fairly brisk clip not to bore this stupid A.D.D. generation. You get to see everything from Dali making the infamous hologram of Alice to John Lydon saying how “Anything Alice has ever done is good enough for me…except Golf. Lay off the golf”…and much more. A fascinating section is where Alice leaves a sanitarium after getting off booze and begins collaborating with Elton John partner Bernie Taupin, which also fatefully led him to get in way over his head with cocaine. Bernie and Vincent are finally friends again nowadays, a wonderful ending that shows things can heal. It was super cool to have Taupin a part of this film. The DVD has Montreal 1972 footage and a CD of Montreaux 2009 as well.
I can’t rave about this movie enough. Alice on Johnny Carson to his kid favorite Muppets appearance to meeting Frank Sinatra so his parents finally realized he was famous, it’s all here. A great part is when Alice organizes a city park clean up and a reporter says people think it was just done for publicity and Alice fires back ,”Well,what’s wrong with that?”. It is also great to hear from former band members from the original group as well as Vincent’s wife and celebrity rockers like Dee Snider (who has a great quote I wont spoil), Iggy Pop, Lydon and more. You really see how Bob Ezrin focused the group until he and Alice started to pull separate ways from the original band.
Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn of Banger films did a remarkable job with this movie, as much a work of art as their subject. From a freaky ass montage during “Dead Babies” to the apotheosis of “18” taking the country by storm to Wolfman jack on a camel and helicopters dropping panties (!!!) on bugged out fans at the once wholesome Hollywood Bowl, this shit is so fucking awesome. I wanted it to go on and on. But every Nightmare has an ending, for better or for worse.