Super Duper Alice Cooper

Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema and Scot McFadyen

BY Matthew RitchiePublished Apr 29, 2014

What's so super about Alice Cooper? Judging by this documentary from the creators of Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and the New Pornographers tour documentary Better Off in Bed, apparently not that much.

Born the son of a pastor in the late '40s, Vincent Furnier was just your average all-American boy who listened to the Beatles and dreamed of becoming a famous rock star. The only difference is that he made it happen.

Super Duper Alice Cooper charts the rise and fall of Furnier from his days as Arizona garage rock royalty to his transformation into Alice Cooper and subsequent self-destruction at the hands of the character he created.

Told entirely through voiceovers and documented using re-animated archival photographs and televised footage, the film is a visually stunning affair, but one that ultimately suffers from its subject's overall sense of sameness in relation to every other rock star from that time period.

Fans of Furnier's oeuvre will certainly delight in the first-hand accounts of Cooper's most memorable moments (i.e. throwing a live chicken into a crowd while opening for John Lennon in Toronto; recording and releasing "I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out"; dropping piles of panties onto an audience at the Hollywood Bowl), but even casual viewers and seasoned rock researchers may find this tale of addiction to sobriety and back again a little too overplayed for 2014.

Strangely, for a documentary about the life of Alice Cooper, the film abruptly stops after his long-awaited return to stage to perform a nationally broadcasted live show on MTV in 1986. This time period marked Cooper's second coming thanks to the rise of hair metal (a genre he helped inspire), a topic that is discussed only briefly in an expletive-laden aside courtesy of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, but is brushed off without delving into much of its cultural significance.

Due to the film's stylistic constraints and firm conclusion, viewers miss out on a large chunk of Furnier's career nearly 30 years after the event. (One can't help but imagine another documentary that covers Cooper's increasingly elaborate stage show, sober living, "Poison," and most importantly, his renowned love of golf.)

Nevertheless, Super Duper Alice Cooper is a decent primer for fans and those unaware of the musician's history, but followers of the oft-told rock'n'roll biography may be left wanting a bit more.


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