Super Duper Alice Cooper – Deluxe Edition (Review)

Super Duper Alice Cooper Deluxe Box Set
Super Duper Alice Cooper Deluxe Box Set

Super Duper Alice Cooper (2DVD/BR/CD – £37 Love Music Glasgow)

I do love a good music documentary, which is probably just as well as they seem to be coming down the pipeline at an impressive rate these days. I blame Anvil. But few musicians warrant a film biog more than Alice Cooper. And when the film, Super Duper Alice Cooper, comes courtesy of Banger Productions (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, VH1’s Metal Evolution and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) then the prospects are very promising indeed. Hot on the heels of a limited cinema run comes the release on DVD and Blu Ray. I hadn’t expected this to come out until later in 2014 so it’s a nice surprise to have a copy so soon but does it live up to its promise?

The Eyes of Alice Cooper
The Eyes of Alice Cooper

THE DOCUMENTARY

Unexpectedly, the film takes the form of an extended montage. There is no footage of the interviewees as they are now, Alice and co-stars providing only voice-overs to the stream of archive footage and images. The 87min  running time is a bit miserly for such a huge and important story so the film focuses squarely on Alice the man and performer with little discussion of the music or discography. And even then it all feels a bit breathless. The movie hurtles from anecdote to anecdote faster than you can say “Michael Bruce”. Which no-one here does. Not even once. The pace and the effect of only hearing the protagonists’ voices renders the whole thing strangely flat. And as the film progresses it is rarely as exciting or as it moving as it should be.

He's no well
He’s no’ well

On the plus side, the film is a veritable treasure trove of visual material and, by cutting out the modern-day talking heads, a lot of this good stuff is crammed into the brief running time. I can understand the impulse to prioritise the historical footage but the filmmakers haven’t employed it with the dramatic and powerful effect of a film like Julien Temple’s The Filth and the Fury which took a similar approach. For long-time fans there are interesting and fresh insights into Alice’s life. Without spoiling too much, Dennis Dunaway’s recollections as the original band drift apart are sad and surprising and there is fascinating new light shed on Cooper’s addictions. The portrayal of the singer’s descent is harrowing enough to set-up a satisfying feel-good ending, as a healthier, happier Alice bounces back into action in the 80s with support from guitar-gunslinger (literally!) Kane “Rambo” Roberts. Nothing is said of his later career which seems strange as I felt that the reunion of the remaining original members with producer Bob Ezrin for Welcome 2 My Nightmare would have been a satisfying way to bring the story up to date and also full circle.

THE BOX SET

The individual DVD and Blu-Ray editions come with some extra archive footage, deleted scenes and extra interviews that were filmed for the Metal Evolution series. This deluxe version has even more extras that may prove very tempting for Coop fans. The LP-sized hardcover book has some great photos and some interesting insights from the film-makers which explain why they decided, rightly or wrongly, what approach to take with the documentary. And in addition to the DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie there is two bonus discs. The first is a DVD of footage shot from the 1972 Killer tour in Montreal. Any classic Alice Cooper concert footage is like gold-dust and I can imagine many fans buying this set for this disc alone. Sadly, the footage is very incomplete and the existing visual and audio components cut and pasted together to make as much out of it as possible. As a result the sound is often out of sync with the action and portions of the songs are missing. It’s a touch disappointing that the show is so incomplete but it is still a rare treat to the see the band in action at this point in their career. A fourth disc contains an energetic live performance from 2009′s Along Came a Spider tour at Montreaux which features some great classic material and great sound. It’s only slightly marred by some audible mic problems towards the end. I think all of the tracks here have been performed on other live releases so it’s fairly inessential in that respect but it’s a lean and rocking set and a nice bonus for any completists out there.

Taken individually the disappointing movie and patchy concert footage leave you wanting slightly more. But viewed together with the book and CD for bonus reading and listening, there’s an enjoyable evening of Cooper fun to be had here. And more archive Alice than you can shake a snake at! I still feel like the ultimate Cooper visual retrospective is still out there, waiting to be made, but this is still a welcome addition to the collection alongside Prime Cuts, Good to See You Again Alice Cooper and the many other Coop DVDs out there.

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60 thoughts on “Super Duper Alice Cooper – Deluxe Edition (Review)”

  1. A review from the HMO? Holy shit!

    I’m very disappointed that most reviews agree with yours. I was hoping for more. I have heard the concert stuff is loaded with partial songs.

    I’ll get this for the live 2009 show. It’s not the same as the Theater of Death album.

    1. Yeah! Hoping to start doing more reviews. I’ve decided to try and review purchases in full and then round up the leftovers in occasional Buying Round-Ups. So hopefully more reviews coming! Even if I can do one a week that would be good going for me!

      I’d say the set is better than the some of it’s parts, put it that way. If it was just the movie on it’s own… meh. But together with everything else it’s a pretty good set and wasn’t too expensive. Worth getting, I’ve had fun with it. Not the best Banger Prod. movie by a long shot though.

      1. I’d be into more HMO reviews. My offer still stands if you want to collaborate on something too.

        As J-Roc said in Trailer Park Boys, it’s “cross promotin’”!

        BTW — I have a 7 part TPB series coming soon :)

        I’ve decided that this is the version I will get. Otherwise I don’t see much value for me. The CD will be the main feature for me.

        The CD alone, how is it? Are the songs truncated at all?

      2. The CD has a couple of truncated songs but it sounds like they were played that way, not edited. Like medleys. I might be wrong though. They open with Its Hot Tonight but it quickly segues into the next tune. I wonder if they just threw a snippet in because it was genuinely hot that night! I think the box is decent value even if none of its essential. I enjoyed the CD, don’t know if I’d say it was a must own though. Are there tracks on it you don’t have live versions of?

        TPB series sounds cool! I watched 7 series of it… having withdrawal now!

        I’d be up for a collaboration if you have any ideas?

  2. Thanks for your incredibly thorough review of this set. The short running time and incomplete performances on the live ’72 disc make this sound like a slight disappointment (and how could there be no mention of Michael Bruce?). I would still like to see the documentary at some point, but based on the cost (and lack of storage space) I will probably opt for a stand-alone DVD or Blu-ray version. Too bad they couldn’t use the storage capacity of Blu-ray discs to include an extended cut of the movie. Seems like a missed opportunity, but I guess we’ll take what we can get.

    1. Cheers Rich. I was pretty disappointed with the ’72 disc but it does make for interesting viewing once you get over the let-down. It’s my favourite period of Alice so it’s cool to see what the stage presentation was like then.

      There is some deleted scenes as extras on the normal discs but nothing incredibly noteworthy. I can’t really think why they kept the doc so short and the lack of a mention for Michael Bruce is astounding and unforgivable. What were they thinking?!

      But, it’s worth seeing overall. Not essential but not a waste of time either. I think I’d have been more let-down with the normal version, the extras did flesh things out at least. I’d love to know your thoughts when you’ve seen it.

      1. Are you saying that the stand-alone DVD & Blu-ray are missing some content that only appears on their counterparts from the deluxe set that you got? Or are the extras merely the ’72 disc and the Along Came A Spider live disc?

        These kinds of documentaries are fun but I rarely watch them more than once, even for my favorite artists. That’s why the box set version is enticing but even that sounds like a hit-and-miss affair.

      2. Sorry, I wasn’t too clear there. There are deleted scenes and extra archive footage / interviews on the movie discs. These are available on all versions. Not just the deluxe set.

        Only the 72 DVD and Montreal gig are exclusive to this and I just felt much happier having those as well as the movie. I can watch docs over and over but I can’t imagine me going back to this very much. I think the live CD is probably the most useful thing here.

      3. Thanks for clarifying, Scott. While I would love to have this set I’m guessing I wouldn’t spend much time with it so I should probably put my money toward something else (and with more Zeppelin box sets on the way over the next year or so, I’ll need to put aside a lot of money).

        I’m impressed that you can watch music docs more than once. I can only do that with live performances, TV appearances, etc. When it’s got a narrative structure with multiple talking heads and performances edited & interspersed throughout, I’m usually one-and-done.

      4. No worries! I wouldn’t blame you for directing your funds to the Zep sets over this. I read that the next two are due in October and Physical Graffiti is due in Feb next year. So get saving!

        I think I probably spend more time watching docs than I should. It’s a bad habit!

  3. This sounds cool! Is there any relationship between this one and the Shep Gordon (Alice Cooper’s manager) documentary put out by Mike Meyers (yes, the Wayne’s World one)?

      1. I haven’t. They main players have been making the rounds of my favorite podcasts so I assume it’s just coming out now. It’s called “Supermensch” I think.

  4. “A review from the HMO? Holy shit!” Mike took the words right outta my mouth.

    That’s still a very pretty-looking set, even if it’s lacking in some ways. See, this is exactly what I go on about. The labels and artists need to ask US what to include and how to do it. Then it’d be a quality product. Of course, in this instance I would bow to the rest of y’all’s superior knowledge of Mr. Alice Cooper.

    An excellent review. We all hope you choose to do more. Many more.

    Bonus Points: Try saying “Super Duper Alice Cooper” 5 times in a row without sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    1. I surprised myself! As Bob Rock would say, it’s time to go deep!

      Patchy is a good word for this. But still fun. I’m glad I bought it actually. It put me in an Alice mood so… job done. And it does look cool.

      I can’t take those bonus points. I’m only ever a couple of sentences away from a Schwarzenegger voice at the best of times. On the subject of action heroes, did you see the hidden First Blood quote? It was either that or “I can’t find his legs”. Tough decision.

  5. Sounds like first dud by the Banger Boys. They had a great run with superior documentaries. I will watch this and I kinda like the fact that they end it on the Constrictor tour,you don’t see that too often especially when the Coop is still going strong nowadays.
    I will watch it somewhere but I will not purchase this.
    Good review HMO

    1. Thanks Deke. Ending it on Constrictor does work in terms of giving the film a happy ending. I can see why they thought that was a good climatic point but it is a bit weird that they didn’t think there was anything worth reporting since then! I like that Kane Roberts got into the movie too but… does that make him more important than Michael Bruce in the AC story? Um.

  6. Great Scott! He did a review!! Nice one, dude!
    I have a friend who went to graduate school with the guy responsible for Metal: a Headbanger’s Journey. I think she told me that film was part of his Master’s Thesis(?). York University in Toronto.

    I really enjoy Alice, but the hubs is the one with all his material. I do love me a good doc (as you know). I do have both Metal and RUSH docs, and I can definitely re-watch them, though it’s an “every two years” type thing.

    1. Cheers! That’s cool. I do like his stuff. This isn’t one of his better moments though. Seems like something they were hired to do rather than wanted to do if that makes any sense. Still worth watching though… I’ve seen worse and there’s some amazing footage.

      I rewatch those a lot. I really enjoyed the Metal Evolution series recently too. It was pretty flawed but I applaud him going to that depth. Very ambitious.

  7. Great post- I’ve always wondered if there was some kind of hex on the original band as far as film went. I’ve never seen anything except scraps ‘n pieces, with atrocious sound, and as you note here, no group interviews. When will someone do justice to the Alice Cooper saga?

      1. Thanks for that Mike, but I wasn’t talking about a lack of info, just the quality of archival video I’ve seen. They could do it for the F’n PARTRIDGE FAMILY, why not the king of Theatrical Rock, yaknowwhatimean?

      2. Ahh, I understand. Well, the Old School box set does come with a DVD, with new interviews with all four surviving members, even Michael Bruce who has packed on the pounds. However as far as vintage band interviews on video, I admit I have seen nothing.

      3. It’s good enough to wanna watch once or twice. The shit thing is that all the interview content in the DVD is duplicated on an interview CD also included with the box set.

      4. The DVD had a cool bonus disc. interviews with the original guys (even Michael Bruce!) and a ton of Rambo Roberts action! But you have to play a stupid snakes and ladders game to access the extras…

      5. It’s just odd to me that the band that arguably invented Theatrical Rock never inspired any film-maker to do a proper job documenting them. Not even Marty DiBergi :P

      6. Well, Marty DiBergi wouldn’t have done it justice. He would have made them look bad. Just like he did to Spinal Tap. You know how many times Derek Smalls got caught in that pod? 75% of the time, he didn’t get stuck in the pod. DiBergi chose to only show him getting stuck. The band thought this was character assassination and I agree with them!
        ;)

    1. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. You’d think for such a visual band they’d have had cameras pointed at them more often! They do interview Dennis Dunnaway and Neal Smith here so that’s cool but… No mention of Michael Bruce! AT ALL! WTF?

      1. I can’t bring myself to watch that Good to See You AC again. It’s terrible! I’m glad the disc just let’s you watch the concert instead…

        I’m sure there is bad blood but I can’t help wondering if it’s an error in judgement by the filmmakers. He wasn’t interviewed so they didn’t think it was worth mentioning him? Mind you, Glen got a mention though. And he’s dead!

      2. I’ll probably be hate-spammed for this, buuuut I think it’s the old “Front man is the star, what does he need THOSE guys for?” syndrome. How many times has a singer believed industry hype, and gone solo, leaving great bands to wither and die forgotten? Has the legend of Alice inflated Furnier’s ego to the point he & his p.r. machine thinks he did it alone?

      3. Haha look out for all that hate spam coming your way! I think you’re right. I guess he’s had a successful career on his own but those original albums will always be the best stuff he ever did. Easily. But maybe if they’d stayed together it would just have went downhill anyway.

        I find it hard watching / reading interviews with Alice. He’s almost unbearably full of his own importance. With good reason in fairness! But I just find him a bit much sometimes. I guess I’m gonna get hate spammed for saying that!

      4. For sure, Easy Action, School’s Out & Killer will always be my faves. Even Muscle of Love is better than the newer stuff. He’s a caricature of his former self – watching him getting smacked down by Bigfoot says it all. Should’ve been the other way around!

      5. Killer is one my favourite albums full stop. I like a lot of what he’s done since and I’ve enjoyed his shows but where would he be without those original band classics? He still leans so heavily on that stuff.

    1. I wouldn’t blame you! It’s a weird one… I know it’s not up to much but I enjoyed myself watching and listening to it anyway. I guess it just caught me in the right mood but it could / should have been so much better than it is.

  8. Thank you for visiting my blog and subscribing it is much appreciated. I have reciprocated and look forward to receiving reviews and recommendations in future posts. I tried to leave this comment in the “About” section but just kept showing error.

  9. I watched this last night with my wife who has heard of Cooper but never knew his career other than the hits.
    She enjoyed it, for me it was like a quick Wikipedia read but as a view so I’m wondering if that’s how Dunn meant it to be …I mean no in depth stuff on the albums so for the hardcore fan I’m sure a disappointment but for the casual fan a interesting story.
    I dug it but I would never watch it again.
    Also the fact it ends in 86 is interesting as well,kinda of a cool move plus the way the editing of use of still images was creative and they would,show old footage of the musicians that they would talk to(Snider and Pop) kinda of a cool angle….but yeah like I said earlier glad I watched it ,now what else is on?!

  10. That’s a great comparison with a Wiki read. It is very much like that. It is an ok watch but, like you say, how many times are you going to want to watch it again? What would be the point? It could have been so much better.

    One of the writers (not Dunn) explains the decisions about the film in the book that comes with his set. I can sort-of see where they were coming from but I just don’t think it worked all that well. I think they should have focused more on the musicians and the music, not just Alice’s personal stuff.

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