Hello again, Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World! Today I wanted to talk to you about something a little off the beaten path for me — though given the strange assortment of topics I’ve written on, is anything truly off the beaten path for me? Well-known for his rock and roll sound, thick mascara and shock-rock horror-themed stage shows, Alice Cooper is much less well-known for his acting career. While, granted, his music has been a much greater part of his career, his film career cannot be overlooked. Let’s take a look, shall we?
SEXTETTE (1978): Alice’s first theatrically-released film role came in 1978 with SEXTETTE, a film in which international sex symbol Mae West, now in her 80s, made one last gasp at being Mae West, with predictable results. With an all-star cast including Timothy Dalton, Dom DeLuise, Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr and George Hamilton, the film was a financial flop because in 1978 no one wanted to see an elderly woman, clearly on her last legs, making lascivious comments towards men young enough to be her grandchildren. Thankfully, times have changed, otherwise Betty White would be out of work. Alice can be seen playing a waiter in this film.
SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (1978): Featuring the likes of Aerosmith, Earth Wind & Fire, Peter Frampton and the Bee-Gees, SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND is, as the name suggests, built around the music of the Beatles and tells the story of a small town band that hits it big and gets caught up in the limelight, losing track of their roots and forced to fight back against the tyrannical music industry to save their home town. Alice appears as a musician called “the Sun King.” Interestingly enough, he’d checked himself into a rehab clinic (really more of a mental hospital) for treatment for alcoholism prior to appearing in the film, and had received a three-day pass to record his scenes.
MONSTER DOG (1984): Written and directed by Claudio Fragasso, a man much better known for fulfilling the same duties on the Best Worst Movie, TROLL 2, MONSTER DOG is Alice’s first starring role. He plays Vincent Raven, a rock star returning to his home town to film a music video. Once there, he’s warned that a series of strange animals attacks have been taking place, with packs of dogs ganging up and killing people. We learn that these attacks are at the behest of a “Monster Dog,” a werewolf, and that Vincent knows more about the attacks then he’s letting on…
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987): A massively-underrated film from John Carpenter, I never see this film get the respect it deserves. It’s at least as good as THE THING, and for my money far more interesting and more watchable then HALLOWEEN. With it’s Nigel Kneale-inspired story and some fantastic performances from such brilliant character actors as Donald Pleasence and Victor Wong, it’s a smart sci-fi horror film that’s not afraid to explore new directions. Alice appears in a cameo role as a homeless man possessed by the power of Evil. He also provided a prop from his stage show for the film, a trick bicycle used for impalings, a prop used to great effect in the film.
FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991): perhaps the absolute nadir of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, FREDDY’S DEAD is a pretty dreadful film that concludes with Freddy being killed with, after all the creative methods used against him in prior entries, a pipe bomb of all the stupid things. Cameos by Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr don’t help, and Johnny Depp (credited as Oprah Noodlemantra) fails to liven things up in his brief appearance. Alice Cooper, uncredited, appears as Freddy’s abusive father (would that be step-father or foster father? He is the bastard son of a thousand maniacs, after all…or did they forget?) in a brief sequence.
WAYNE’S WORLD (1992): We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!
THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS (2001): OK, full disclosure here, I haven’t seen this film yet. So I’m not going to offer anything in the way of commentary. Trevor (Andras Jones, of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 and SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA) is in a mental institution run by the sinister Dr. Ek (Jeffrey Combs) who seems to have extremely dark designs on Trevor’s psyche. The story, I understand, is told in a non-linear fashion, and features a young Seth Green (in the process of transitioning from child actor to adult) in a prominent role. Alice appears, I believe, as a fellow inmate of the asylum. The synopses I’ve read have me really curious so I’m sure I’ll be checking this one out some time soon.
SUCK (2009): Another one I’m not really familiar with, SUCK purports to be a rock-and-roll horror comedy with vampires and, checking IMDB, a deucedly impressive list of musicians making cameo appearances. Besides Alice in the role of an cynical bartender, we’ve got Henry Rollins, Alex Lifeson, Moby and Iggy Pop, plus Malcolm McDowell as “Eddie Van Helsing.” I’m kind of curious to check this one out as well, though I tend to be leery of horror-comedies as very, very difficult to do right.
DARK SHADOWS (2012): Alice Cooper appears as himself, performing at an event hosted by Barnabas Collins (Depp, once more slathered in white greasepaint for the lonely goth girls to fingerbang themselves to). ”No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” are heard. I really didn’t care for this film, and won’t discuss it further.
This is, of course, not a complete-complete list of Alice’s film-work, as he’s done some TV-movies and similar work, plus of course filmed concerts, which I’m discounting for the purposes of this list, not to mention that he wrote the song “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” for FRIDAY THE 13TH VI: JASON LIVES, in which his song “Teenage Frankenstein” is heard instead.
Tags: Alice Cooper, Dark Shadows, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Friday the 13th, He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask), Jason Lives, John Carpenter, Monster Dog, Nightmare on Elm Street, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Prince of Darkness, Sextette, Suck, Teenage Frankenstein, The Attic Expeditions, Wayne's World