Super Duper Alice Cooper
Directed And Written: Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen
Produced by: Banger Films
Review by Chris Galea
A film documenting the life, career, trials and tribulations of one of the founding fathers of Rock and Metal is certainly something to look forward to. “Super Duper…” starts by focusing on the upbringing of Vincent Furnier before he adopted the stage name of ‘Alice Cooper’, on his first forays into music, on meeting bassist Dennis Dunaway at school and revealing the origins of the band moniker.
More than half the documentary consists of voices speaking over photos and archive footage both of which are not necessarily directly linked to what is being said. It’s a very strange approach not to mention that it’s also very frustrating that you’re not actually seeing the speaker/s and sometimes it’s not even clear who is speaking.
For many years and seven albums into the band’s existence, Alice Cooper the band and Alice Cooper the frontman were two distinct entities and the film dedicates a hefty focus on the former. It tells about the band being discovered by Frank Zappa, who really got the ball rolling for the band. We get to know about a handful of crucial performances that significantly elevated the band’s status, such as a 1970 festival with John Lennon also on the bill.
Even after those shows, radio stations kept ignoring the band but that all changed when famed producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd) was roped in and Alice Cooper finally had their first hit single: ‘I’m Eighteen’. Since its inception, the band kept honing the theatricality of their live shows and “Super Duper Alice Cooper” makes this patently clear. Speaking of which, the film mentions some truly bizarre anecdotes about their gigs, one involving a chicken (think of it as Alice Cooper’s version of the infamous story concerning Ozzy and a bat). No less bizarre is footage of a live show involving panties…lots of panties.
The documentary then covers the divorce of Alice Cooper the singer from Alice Cooper the band. Around the same time, Alice/Vince suffered a mental breakdown. Upon emerging from that precarious mental state, one of the first things Alice did was collaborate with songwriter Bernie Taupin, famous for writing the lyrics to almost all of Elton John’s songs (incidentally Elton John is said to be a big Alice Cooper fan). The result of the Cooper/Taupin collaboration was for me Alice Cooper’s magnum opus, the album “From The Inside”, released in 1978 and recorded with the help of a large number of session musicians.
We are also told that Alice Cooper had to deal with a crippling cocaine addiction, from which he eventually recovered and returned to the stage in 1986 after an absence of 4 years. And in fact the documentary clocks off somewhere in the mid-1980s.
So, if Alice Cooper meant nothing to you beyond the albums, videos and concerts, “Super Duper Alice Cooper” certainly provides a revealing background about the band and showman. Sadly, though, the documentary is conspicuously lacking in any depth whatsoever. It mentions a number of stepping stones in Alice Cooper’s career but there’s very little insight in terms of how, why, who, when….etc. On the other hand, a lot of important events, albums and musicians are wholly overlooked. So, for example, we have nothing about the “Easy Action” album of 1970. And guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, two musicians so crucial to the band, are almost completely ignored.
To that add what I mentioned earlier about invisible persons speaking over photo and video montages and in the end the prevailing feeling I got of this film-doc is one of a missed opportunity.
Interesting? Perhaps. But certainly not super duper.
Watch the trailer here:
Alice Cooper’s new album “Detroit Stories” will be released on February 26th, 2021 via earMUSIC.
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