(May 08, 1975)
Originally Published: May 08, 1975
Author: Bill Obbagy
Most people would probably agree that you don't go to an Alice Cooper concert to hear the music.
The excitement and the entertainment, for the most part, is in the outlandish, and occasionally spectacular, Cooper visuals.
The applies even more so to the film which opens this weekend at the Fairview and Mayland theaters - GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, ALICE COOPER.
Most of the time, it took considerable effort to tear my eyes from the screen, in order to scribble down a few notes. Some of shrieking, hard-rock singing I could do without. But his theatrics are morbidly fascinating. You sit there wondering what kind of revolting thing he's going to do next.
As though Cooper's insane antics (adeptly filmed his 1973 "Billion Dollar Babies" tour) weren't enough, the makers of this picture have also injected cameo appearances by such luminaries as Shirley Temple, W.C. Fields, Betty Boop, Richard M. Nixon, Charles Laughton and a host of other lesser-knowns resurrected from vintage celluloid.
In most cases, the old film clips are utilized more for snatches of dialog than for their action. They are masterfully spliced in such a way that Cooper, and the characters from a dozen other films would seem to be carrying on conversations and debates in the same place as the same time. (A couple of them are hilarious!)
Each of the "oldies" insertions serve to punctuate the overall action of the concert, and to introduce each upcoming song.
Flashbacks of Nixon, and a slew of other 20th Century politicos, for example, are used in the cinematic prelude to "I Wanna Be Elected."
The concert scenes themselves defy total description. If you saw Cooper in his April 27 "nightmare" ABC Special, or at the Coliseum, you know what I mean.
With knee-high leopard-skin boots, torn long underwear, and his face grease-painted into a scowl, the former Vincent Damon (after Damon Runyon) Furnier comes on looking like a reject from GODSPELL.
By the time he has finished tossing around rubber rats; affixing giant flies to his crotch; strutting around with a naked doll on the end of a sword, and jamming it between the legs of a mannequin; scrubbing a walking, mammoth tooth with a five-foot brush; fondling a boa constrictor and periodically guzzling Budweiser, he looks as though he just crawled out of a sewer.
If you saw him from 20 rows back, he might not have looked so bedraggled and filthy. But with the camera practically kissing him in several scenes, you'd easily mistake him as the most depraved ghoul this side of Charles Manson.
Not to be ignored, of course, is another amusing segment which illustrates the Freudian implications of a dentist's drill.
And a heavily narcissistic, auto-erotic moment, which close-ups Cooper dropping a shimmering glob of spit on a reflective glass torso, watching it slowly roll down to the belly, then catching it in his waiting mouth as it finally drips off the bottom edge.
Depending upon how you look at it, this film shows Cooper at his best or at his worst... and either way ought to be rated "R" instead of "PG".
It should also be apparent, by now, that GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, ALICE COOPER can hardly be compared to a few of the other concert documentaries that have come along (like JIMI AT BERKELEY), which starts off fine, but degenerates into head-throbbing tedium.
The classics 30's and 40's move footage, creative editing, and perceptive concert photography all aid in making the film a fast-paced, unforgettable experience.
Often, it oozes over with sheer decadence and tastlessness. But then, Cooper, who insists he's really a conservative-leaning "Ozzie Nelson" offstage, might simply be trying to express his worm's eye view of society as he sees it.
Perhaps his stage freakishness is really a surrealistic mirror, reflecting the jaded thrill-seekers who populate his audience.
Perhaps the film is his first step towards becoming the Fellini of rock cinema.
(Originally appeared in Northwest Ohio Scene, May 8th - 14th, 1975)