Courtesy: Music Box Films
Twisted Sister is one of the most famous and infamous acts in the rock community’s modern history. Over the course of its roughly four decades-plus the band, originally known as Silver Star, has faced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Through it all it has remained a favorite among audiences of all ages in the rock community. But in 2015 the band made it official that it was calling it a career following the death of drummer A.J. Pero. However, front man Dee Snider noted that the band wasn’t just going to let itself fade into obscurity. A tour was planned along with tribute shows to Pero. And this past February the band released a new documentary titled We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! that examines the band’s roots. This presentation, which clocks in at a little more than two hours in length, is a good addition to the personal music collection of any Twisted Sister fan. It shows this primarily through its central story. It is a story of a band that was so much more than the personas presented on stage. It is the most important part of the program’s presentation. This will be discussed at greater length shortly. Just as important as the story at the heart of the documentary is the footage that accompanies said story. The footage in question is rare material presenting the band in its formative years. There are also interviews with [Dee] Snider and guitarist/founding member Jay Jay French as well as some of the band’s fans. Last but hardly least of note in this documentary is its bonus material. Each element plays its own important part in the overall presentation of We Are Twisted F***ing Sister. Altogether they make this presentation one every member of the rock realm should see regardless of whether or not they are Twisted Sister fans.
Twisted Sister’s new documentary We Are twisted F***ing Sister! is one of the most intriguing rock docs to be released so far this year. That is actually saying something considering how cookie cutter so many other music documentaries come across as being. They are little more than snippets of artists/acts’ tours spliced in with some behind the scenes footage and thrown together for the sake of contractual obligations. This documentary is anything but one of those run-of-the-mill presentations. It presents Twisted Sister—in its central story–not as the over-the-top glam rock band that most audiences have come to know but rather a blue-collar working class band that just happened to use glam as its bit in order to gain its audiences. Beneath the surface of that façade was a group of musicians that worked its way to its stardom. And it did it the hard way, too. This is exemplified at one point when Snider reveals that the band was essentially scammed in order to play a venue. The band was never paid for the gig in question. And it faced even more troubles from there. It’s just one of the problems that the band faced on its journey. At one point early on Snider also reveals that the band’s original bassist left the band as a result of personal beliefs and a battle with alcoholism. Snider’s reaction as he recollects said musician’s explanation for his departure is just as interesting. Just as interesting are Snider’s own humble admissions about being the new guy in the band when he was brought on board and Jay Jay French’s hindsight about the band hanging Barry White in effigy as part of its act. The hanging was part of the ban’s ardent protest against disco. French admits in hindsight that what the band did really was not a good thing especially after sharing an anecdote about a bar owner’s reaction after the band conducted its act in New York. Viewers can tell that French was wholly embarrassed by this act and obviously changed things up after that incident. There are plenty of other stories shared throughout the course of the documentary’s two hour-plus run time including a story about Snider’s wife developing the band’s outfits for which the band became famous, the band’s plan in regards to replacing members, and so much more. Regardless of which story/stories viewers choose, they will agree that all things considered the central story of Twisted Sister’s early, blue-collar days puts the band in a wholly different light than that in which it has been seen for so many decades. Along the way, audiences will find that the pacing plays its own role in the program’s presentation, too. It moves at a speed that is just enough that along with the central story shows even more why this documentary’s central story is so important to the overall presentation of We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! It is only one of the documentary’s important elements, too. The interviews noted previously within the documentary tie in with the program’s vintage footage of the band’s early live shows to make both elements as collectively important as the band’s story.
The central story presented in We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! is in itself a hugely important element of rock doc’s presentation. It is just one of the program’s most important elements. The collective interviews and concert footage that are used to help tell the band’s story are just as important to the presentation as the story itself. The interviews include interviews, as already noted, with founding member Jay Jay French and front man Dee Snider. Mark Mendoza and Eddie Ojeda both get their own screen time, too as do some of the band’s fans. The collective stories that are shared by all involved paint a picture of a band that is more a blue-collar, working class band than the over-the-top glam act that audiences have come to know. The vintage footage of the band’s early days serves to enrich that picture even more. Audiences get to see in that footage, the band on stage in its infancy playing club to club, and eventually making its way to arenas. Viewers will enjoy watching the band evolve from its early incarnation, dressing in drag to its flashier outfits and learning about the change in its identity from just another cover band to an act with its own hugely popular songs. The evolution presented in the vintage concert footage and interviews establish a solid foundation for the documentary’s story. The end result is a story that once again proves to be one of the year’s best music documentaries. Even in forming such a solid foundation for its story, the vintage footage and interviews incorporated into are just one more part of what makes this documentary stand out. The bonus materials included with the story round out the program’s presentation.
The story at the center of We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! and the content that forms the story’s foundation are both of equal importance to the documentary’s presentation. That is because together they insure audiences, regardless of whether or not they are Twisted Sister fans, will remain wholly engaged in the presentation. As important as they are to the presentation they are not the documentary’s only important elements. The bonus material included with the program is just as important to its whole as anything else. The bonus material in question is made up largely of interviews with the band. The interviews in question were both extended takes on the interviews presented in the program and short vignettes that didn’t make the final cut. They range from the funny to the rather serious. One of the more interesting stories shared in the bonus interviews features French discussing a very lethal threat that he ha received in regards to one of the band’s singles. It is like something out of a gangster flick just as he himself notes. There are also interesting stories about Hanoi Rocks’ view of Twisted Sister and Anvil basically owning Twisted Sister in the bands’ first time out together in another pair of interviews. Between these short stories and so many others included in the bonus features there is a lot to appreciate and to enjoy. The whole thing is rounded out with Snider recalling one person’s reason for seeing the band allegedly forty-five times and his own thoughts on the band’s breakup. What he has to say in both cases is the perfect closure to We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!. It serves to beautifully sum up everything that made audiences love Twisted Sister then and why a whole new generation loves the band now even though the band has called it a career. Between those thoughts and everything else presented in the program’ bonus interviews, the whole of those interviews shows clearly why they are indeed bonuses. Together with the documentary’s story and its overall content, all three elements come together to once more make We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! one of this year’s best new music documentaries.
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! is one of 2016’s best new music documentaries hands down. This is made clear through the program’s central story. The story dispels the view of Twisted Sister as just some over-the-top glitter/glam rock band. Rather it paints the picture of a blue-collar, working class band that earned every single bit of its fame. That includes the fame that it holds to this day. The interviews and vintage concert footage that is used to help tell the story adds even more to the experience. It shows how hard Twisted Sister worked and how hungry the band was to make it; not for the fame necessarily but because it was in the band’s blood. The bonus interview segments that accompany the documentary’s central story round out its presentation. Through these interviews, audiences get a fuller picture of the band and its fans. Viewers get to hear extended portions of the interviews presented in the program’s main story as well as interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor. Those interviews add a whole extra layer to the band’s story, thus making the story that much more interesting for any rock purist regardless of whether said purist is a Twisted Sister fan or not. Hearing those interviews—those stories—and hearing the fire in the band’s performances, even those that are not fans have to admit that there was something special about Twisted Sister. Knowing this, it makes the story in whole that much more important to the band and its fans. It makes the story that much more important to the overall history of rock. Keeping that in mind it is safe to say, once more, that We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! is one of 2016’s top new music documentaries if not the year’s best and a fitting eulogy for one of rock’s great acts should Twisted Sister indeed be done for good. It is available now in stores on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on this and other titles from Music Box Films is available online now at:
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