Alice Cooper's Horrific 80's Incarnation
Orginally published in the HMS column: Blood Is Not Enough, Halloween 2014.
In honor of it being Halloween I thought it would be great to look back at the career of Alice Cooper and his contributions to horror films and heavy metal in the 80's. So, sit back and let me state a few facts for you about Vincent Damon Furnier AKA Alice Cooper.
In the early 1980's Alice Cooper was floundering as a shock rock musician, battling alcoholism and dealing with a troubled marriage. Worse yet, Warner Brothers decided to cut ties with Alice, effectively leaving him without a recording contract for the first time in his career. His final album while under contract for Warner was Dada, and it severely underperformed sales-wise proving that the current incarnation of Alice Cooper was indeed done.
After taking some time out in '83 to get better and deal with his addictions, Cooper returned to golfing and made a B-grade horror film in Europe called Monster Dog. The film was dreadfully bad, shot on the lowest of budgets and Alice suffered the worst indignity of having his speaking parts dubbed. If anything, what this film did accomplish for Alice was the chance to recharge his batteries and help to reshape his image. Despite the floundering nature of the film, Cooper left the Spanish production and headed back home to attempt putting his musical career back on track. Within a year's time, he had partnered with guitarist Kane Roberts, donned his black eye make-up once more and found himself with a new recording contract with MCA Records. Not bad for a guy who was down on his luck just two years before.
It did appear that Cooper had miraculously risen from the ashes of his 70's persona and was about to enter a new phase of his career. He started it off by appearing as a guest vocalist on Twisted Sister's song "Be Chrool to your Scuel" and a subsequent video was shot of some hilarious zombie eating scenes (laughable by today's standards) that got banned on MTV. In the video, actor Bobcat Goldthwait plays a buffoonish school teacher who falls asleep in the lounge after his class ends, and dreams of Alice Cooper and Dee Snider wandering around the school in full garb as a siege of zombies wander the halls in search of human flesh. The make-up effects were handled by FX great Tom Savini (who also had a small cameo in the video) and it got some major heat from the powers that be at MTV.
Alice never did let this stop him from perfecting his new ghoulish persona. In fact he released his first studio album for MCA records in 1986 and simply called it Constrictor. The cover featured a close-up of Cooper's face with a boa constrictor wrapped around him, as he exhibits a look of fear in the dark pits of those black make-up stained eyes. The album featured Cooper's new hit song "He's Back" (The Man Behind the Mask) which was the theme song for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. The video for Jason lives also gave Alice another cameo and thus allowed him to stretch his Ghoulishness to new heights as he played a deranged psychiatrist. The other song from constrictor to be featured in the movie was "Teenage Frankenstein" and that number ultimately became a fan favorite.
Constrictor was also key to Alice Cooper's return to the stage, as he launched the Nightmare Returns tour and brought his twisted love for horrific antics to a new generation of fans. I believe Cooper was at the height of his powers during these brief few years and he followed this up in 1987 with "Raise Your Fist and Yell" and pushed his new horror esthetic to further acclaim.
Raise Your Fist and Yell is probably the most metal of all of Cooper's musical outputs in the 80's and it featured some strong guitar work from the tandem of Kane Roberts and Kip Winger. The album exhibited a grittier feel from what we were previously used to from the shock rock musician and songs like "Time to Kill," "Chop, Chop, Chop" and "Gail" revealed a much darker side to his persona. The strongest track from this release is arguably "Prince of Darkness" as it appeared on John Carpenter's horror classic Prince of Darkness, leading to yet another cameo for Cooper. This time he played a menacing vagrant (billed as the street Schizo) in a non-speaking role, but came across so effectively in the few scenes he appeared in.
Kenneth Gallant, HMS
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