An interview with the directors of HotDoc’s headliner Super Duper Alice Cooper

When asked if they had any difficulties working with Alice Cooper, directors Reginald Harmenka and Sam Dunn paused, before one of them tentatively replied, “Well, he did not punch us in the face.”

Super Duper Alice Cooper showcases the life and times of the shock-rock legend himself. Known for his outrageous performances and crazy stage antics, Cooper’s story is a not so classic tale of from rags to riches. Growing up in the heart of Detroit, Cooper became the poster-boy for rebellious youth in the grimy 1970s. Born Vincent Furnier, he became satanic rage-fueled Cooper on-stage, and the gaunt-faced performer quickly developed a lifestyle fueled by drugs and alcohol, that eventually landed him in the sanitarium. The documentary takes the audience on a chronological journey through the calm and chaos of Cooper’s life, led by the performer’s own raspy narration.

“We wanted to create a film that stylistically represented the character of Alice Cooper,” explained Dunn, “and we wanted to create a documentary that put viewers in the heat of the moment.”

Dunn and Harmenka were asked by Cooper’s manager to create the rockumentary after the success of their previous film, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010). Having spent years working with Cooper to create their film, they’re in a unique position to comment on his life and work.

“Most of the kids won’t see the influence of Alice Cooper on someone like Lady Gaga,” says Harkema. “But she sure does. We do our interviews with Alice Cooper in his ‘man-cave,’ and there’s a picture up there of Lady Gaga and she’s basically written on it, ‘I stole everything from you, thank you God.’” Although it may not be apparent when considering all the gruesome torture implements that Cooper uses as props on stage, the whole performance-aspect, mixed with the idea of dressing up in elaborate costumes, has been incredibly influential for many contemporary musicians from Michael Jackson to Arcade Fire, and can ultimately be traced back to Cooper’s performances.

When asked about any obstacles that they had faced while working with Cooper, the directors conceded that he was actually surprisingly easy to work with.

“It’s like his manager told us earlier on,” says Harkema, “Alice can’t remember 90 per cent of his life, and he doesn’t care about 100 per cent of it.”

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