Super Duper Alice Cooper, Banger Films, 2014.
I’ve been following Canadian television and film production company Banger Films and their numerous projects with great interest for years now. Sam Dunn and his crew have done wonderful work paying tribute to bands like Rush and Iron Maiden, as well as producing cultural relevant films on Metal (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is still a favourite, and Global Metal is worth its salt) and two TV series no less in the form of Metal Evolution and Rock Icons aired on VH1.
When Banger Films announced Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2013 I was excited. I’ve been a fan of Alice Cooper —the man and the band— for most of my life and Banger Films had done tremendous work covering subjects I loved up to that point.
I had hopes that Super Duper Alice Cooper would cover Alice’s entire career, but much to my chagrin it did not. Some events and entire decades are glossed over. The documentary ends rather abruptly and would have you believe all Alice Cooper did anything after 1986 was tour. That is not the case. Alice experienced renewed creativity and one his most prolific decade as an artist in the ’00s, he is constantly touring and still records to this day as a solo artist and with side projects (Hollywood Vampires).
“Welcome to my documentary, I hope you’re gonna like it.”
I get that with a man who had such a long and illustrated career it would have made for a what would’ve surely amounted to overly long documentary project. I still feel like this documentary was a missed opportunity. For instance, his early 80’s output —as out there and bizarre as they were— are fascinating and musically diverse, yet completely ignored here. Instead they focus on Alice’s personal problems. It would have been nice to hear more about them and ask Alice (even though he doesn’t remember them he can still share thoughts, the man has admitted to hearing genius when he listens to albums like DaDa). Or perhaps why his Lace And Whisky album was such a brilliant album but a complete departure musically.
Banger Films focused more on a Behind The Music approach and the good old shock value factor associated to the Alice Cooper name. For the uninitiated, curious mind or casual fan, Super Duper Alice Cooper is a much more rewarding experience because it paints a portrait of Alice Cooper the man and the band. The die-hard will lament what isn’t in the movie or the fact that we’ve seen or heard this before and that this is the same under a new decor. As such, it seems the filmmakers mostly show the viewer what is on the surface without scratching underneath. Therefore it ends up being a more appealing project to someone who isn’t obsessed with Alice Cooper but very appealing to a casual fan or intrigued viewer.
With that said, what they do cover, what made it in and the presentation are all marvellous. The cinematography is incredible. Some footage and interviews I had never seen and they make for a rare treat providing insights of where Alice Cooper as a band was and who Vincent Furnier was (or at least, becoming). One particular moment during an interview from 1982 shows Furnier as an almost tragic figure, effectively demonstrating his descent in a downward spiral psychologically and physically.
Some of the footage paints very vivid and strong images of the band and Alice. The live footage is great, watching the band play, executions, Alice kissing girls.. There’s a lot of captivating footage and visuals but maybe not as much for the die-hard fans who may have seen (or know) it all already. The bonus interviews that didn’t make the cut are certainly worth watching.
The storytelling is vivid and effective, mostly done by Cooper himself along with some guests and people who contributed (featuring Bob Ezrin and Iggy Pop among others). Even though we may know the story of the Alice Cooper band it never gets old hearing it from those who lived it. It’s great to hear former members of the classic AC band, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, but a shame that Michael Bruce didn’t make it in. They don’t get a lot of air time but it was nice to have their voices heard at least.
Most fans seem to absolutely love Super Duper Alice Cooper while a few seem to think it’s lacking or doesn’t tell them anything they don’t already know. It think it falls short of being the definitive Cooper documentary. One can assume that had Banger Films had more screen time (or a second disc) this could’ve been it.
The documentary itself makes for great viewing and is very enjoyable. Between the presentation of audio, visuals and animations (who reminded me of History of the Eagles and served to enhance the product), Super Duper Alice Cooper brought the story of Alice Cooper to life. I can’t deny that even though I enjoyed the documentary, I anticipated more. This time Banger Films went for a more traditional approach to filmmaking and used a lot of footage and voice overs and ultimately it makes it less effective than their previous work. As much as I love Banger Films and Alice Cooper I’m giving Super Duper Alice Cooper a 3.5/5. Worth the price of admission but don’t expect the world.