I approached the news of Super Duper Alice Cooper with some trepidation. That story has been told to death, hasn’t it? I feel like I’ve seen a gazillion VH1 shows about the rise and fall of Vincent Furnier, misfit preacher’s son from Phoenix who became the most outrageous rock star of the era… or maybe it was just the same one over and over again?
The dramatic arc of fame and fortune followed by Cooper’s debilitating drinking problem and his subsequent comeback as the “godfather of heavy metal” oldies act and happy family man is one we’re all familiar with. Still, there is much to love about Super Duper Alice Cooper, which I enjoyed much more than I expected I would.
The filmmakers, Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn, call their project a “doc opera” and it’s a nicely textured mosaic of archival footage, live performance, TV talk show appearances and the like. What we don’t see are any contemporary interviews with any out-of-shape old rockers—and that includes Alice Cooper himself, who is in great shape at 66—as is now the fad with music documentaries. The interviews are audio only and frankly, I prefer it when rock docs are made this way. You want to see rock stars in their prime, when they’re old it’s just an annoying reminder that you’re getting old too, I suppose, but it really does elevate productions like this to a higher level. There’s an (effective) framing device of the Dr. Jekyll vs. Mr. Hyde element to the singer’s personality that was clever, but not too clever. Overall I liked it quite a bit and give Super Duper Alice Cooper high marks.
I watched with my wife and there’s one part that shows the media of the time seeming kind of confused about what Alice Cooper stood for. She laughed about the notion of parents thinking this stuff was in any way dangerous and I was like, “Hey, wait a minute, they put out three albums’ worth of songs celebrating death and dead babies and all kinds of morbid things with a pretty straight face. Naturally it came off like some kind of freaky death cult to parents just a few short years after ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’!”
The biggest revelation in the film is that Alice Cooper had a major coke problem, a habit that he indulged in quite heavily in the early 1980s (long after he’d dried out from booze) hanging around with lyricist Bernie Taupin (who only agreed to be interviewed for the film on the condition that Alice’s coke problem be addressed). Everybody knows Alice Cooper was a drunk, but even when he was looking fucking insane (if not literally moments away from death) when Tom Snyder interviewed him, who ever heard of Alice Cooper freebasing cocaine? They kept the lid pretty tight on that, but it all comes out in Super Duper Alice Cooper.
WHEN is someone going to post the full “Levity Ball” clip on YouTube?