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Super Duper Alice Cooper

The once and future king of shock rock gets his due in this flashy Canadian documentary. Filmmakers Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema, and Scot McFayden overuse the “animated photo” technique that has become de rigueur in show-biz docus and include little more than a chorus and verse of some of Cooper’s seminal hits, but despite its cringe-worthy title Super Duper Alice Cooper delivers a potent dose of 1970s nostalgia.

The talking heads narrating the film (among them Iggy Pop, Elton John, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, producer Bob Ezrin, and former bandmates Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith) are kept off-camera; instead we see rare photos (many from Cooper’s collection) and familiar stock footage of the 1950s and 1960s: high school dances, hippies frolicking in the park, and, yes, even Clichéd Clip No. 1, the dreaded shot of old-fashioned telephone operators putting wires into sockets. But don’t abandon hope: After 30 minutes of this archival overload, in which Alice’s “battle” with his onstage persona is illustrated with clips from silent (i.e., non-copyrighted) horror movies, we’re finally treated to actual performance footage from concerts and TV appearances—entertaining even if most of it is drowned out by more narration.

The cursory treatment of Cooper’s music—presumably stemming from the belief that it’s all available online for free anyway—makes the film less effective as a 101 for the uninitiated and more of a valentine for the already converted. How else to explain the single minute spent on “School’s Out,” the Cooper anthem most likely to be heard on oldies radio these days?

The most enjoyable segments cover the band Alice Cooper (before singer Vincent Furnier took the name to himself) cultivating their nightmarish onstage image and crafting a string of memorable hits in the early 1970s. Following the band’s demise, the docu moves on to chronicle solo Alice’s years “bottoming out” on booze and cocaine.

From the opening scene Cooper attributes his eventual “salvation” to his Christian upbringing and strong belief in God. A positive, upbeat message may seem a bit odd in a documentary celebrating a shock rock pioneer, but Alice has been quite vocal about his Christianity, and it certainly provides a more believable solution to his dead-end drug dilemma than his much-publicized “addiction” to golf.

Speaking of which: Alice’s celebrity appreciators include John Lydon. The erstwhile Johnny Rotten testifies that the Sex Pistols (in his eyes) were meant as a “complement” to Alice, and speaks for fans everywhere when he says, “I think anything Alice has ever done is good enough for me…except golf. Alice, lay off the golf!”

Watch the trailer for Super Duper Alice Cooper

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