November 1, 2017


Featuring Alice Cooper, Vincent Price. "Welcome to My Nightmare" directed by David Winters. "The Nightmare" directed by Jorn H. Winther. (1975/1976, 130 min).

Perhaps like some of you reading this, Alice Cooper was the first artist that outraged my parents. I'd just purchased his album, Welcome to My Nightmare, and one day my mom came into the room just as the Coop was belting out "Cold Ethyl." Being only 12 years old, I didn't know or care about the words, just that it sounded cool blasting from my tiny phonograph. Mom was horrified when she read the lyric sheet, though, and informed me the song was about a guy who keeps a dead woman in a refrigerator.

She promptly forbade me from buying any more Alice Cooper records (for awhile, anyway), a moment which cemented him in my mind as the coolest guy ever.

I had previously heard from friends about his notorious stage antics, but my initial introduction to Cooper's music was a late night TV special he made to promote Welcome to My Nightmare. Simply titled, The Nightmare, it featured Alice performing every song, each presented as macabre musical sketches linked to create an episodic journey through a young man's nightmares. None other than the great Vincent Price served as our sinister tour guide. With great songs and Cooper's tongue-in-cheek persona, I was hooked (and became a fan for life).

While Vincent Price re-enacts his guest star performance on The Brady Bunch, Alice makes a hasty exit.
The Nightmare is now on DVD and watching it again for the first time in over 40 years brought back a wave of warm nostalgia. All that was missing was my mother lecturing me about how vulgar he was. Sure, it looks a bit quaint and dated today, but it's still wonderfully entertaining and the songs hold up really well (I personally think WTMN remains his greatest album).

This disc also features a 1976 concert film shot during Cooper's tour to promote the album. Hence, it's top-heavy with Welcome to My Nightmare songs, along with a smattering of early hits from when Alice Cooper was still an actual band. From a theatrical standpoint, this was the biggest tour of his career, loaded with props, dancers and one hell of a back-up band (check out the blistering guitar dual between Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter). What a thrill it must have been to see it live. For the rest of us, the film doesn't really do the show justice. It isn't particularly well shot and the image is often pretty murky. Some of this is obviously due to age, but it doesn't look like any attempts were made to clean it up since the film's last DVD release. Still, Alice's showmanship shines through, even when butchering the lyrics to his own songs.

Overall, Welcome to My Nightmare - Special Edition is a must-own for anyone who grew up on Alice Cooper at the pinnacle of his popularity. Hardcore fans probably already have the concert DVD, but finally having The Nightmare on disc definitely makes this one worth picking up.

SUPPLEMENTRY BOOKLET - Contains technical and performance credits for both features, promotional material and what looks like the original press release.

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