Despite the inane title, Super Duper Alice Cooper lives up to it’s billing; the 98 minute documentary is indeed super. Beginning with his birth in Detroit, the film follows Cooper through his 1986 concert event, The Nightmare Returns.
His early years in Detroit and Phoenix are aptly animated through 3D fly-throughs. Although these early years are very quick, it reveals Alice’s stance as a born-again Christian and the part God plays in life and outlook–interesting to hear from a shock-rocker whose main goal throughout the 60s and 70s was to upset conservative parents.
Moving into Alice’s burgeoning rock star years, the fly-throughs are still used to animate characters in his life like Frank Zappa and manager Shep Gordon. What is interesting is for interviews conducted with Gordon and rock stars like Elton John and Dee Snider, they are only shown as fly-throughs of their 70s selves as to not take you out of the time period. The same treatment is given to Cooper who never appears in the film in his modern form, only as voice over and archival footage.
The archival footage used is incredible. Footage of the MC5 and The Stooges are supplanted for Alice’s first gig in Detroit. A collaboration with Salvador Dali captured on film is used to show the height of Cooper’s icon status and the meeting of Cooper and one of his idols. Perhaps most shocking of all are the clips of Cooper during his cocaine years. It really illustrates how close to death he was. Cooper reiterates his religious beliefs, saying he was saved by God.
Throughout the film, Alice’s music is heavily used. While Cooper had to talk about his biggest hits “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out,” other hits like “No More Mr Nice Guy” and “Poison” are not included on the soundtrack. Instead the filmmakers opt for Cooper deep cuts like “Alma Mater,” “Nobody Likes Me,” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” which is used several times in the film.
The film comes full circle with 1986’s The Nightmare Returns, a concert held in Detroit on Halloween night in the same stadium where Cooper had played at the beginning of his career with the Stooges and MC5. This time Cooper is the only act and he sells out the stadium. The concert was simulcast on MTV and is largely considered the definitive Alice Cooper live footage.
The movie ends with a few more fly-throughs updating the status of Alice Cooper band members and associates, some of whom still are in the music biz and one of whom is now a real estate agent. It is really the only time we reminded that these characters in the film are now in their 60s.