A new documentary about glam rock band Twisted Sister is stuffed with fascinating footage and anecdotes about the group’s rise from ragtag bar band to platinum-selling chart-toppers.
Andrew Horn’s documentary “We Are Twisted F***ing Sister” chronicles the rise of the Long Island, N.Y., rock band that conquered ’80s glam metal with outrageous videos and fist-pumping anthems. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a long-gone era.
Using a trove of archival footage and memorabilia, the story is told by the band, managers and its devout fans over the course of 134 wildly entertaining minutes.
Horn follows the group from its inception as a ragtag bar band in the early 1970s right up to the point when it breaks big. We see the band slogging it out, playing cover songs in clubs, but releasing original music and pounding on doors trying to get a record deal.
‘We Are Twisted F***ing Sister,’ a documentary directed by Andrew Horn. 134 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Horn’s use of raw early footage proves that Twisted Sister was able to draw thousands of die-hard fans to its raucous and over-the-top shows in the Long Island and New Jersey area. The highlight of this period was a sold-out gig at New York’s 3,000-capacity Palladium — all without a recording contract or radio airplay.
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The film includes candid interviews with lead singer Dee Snider and guitarist Jay Jay French, who explain how the band eventually was signed to an obscure British punk label, finding an unlikely champion in the late heavy-metal musician Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.
Some of the anecdotes, such as the time the band hanged and beat an effigy of Barry White onstage while singing a song called “Disco Sucks,” are cringe-inducing and out of touch, which Snider admits with embarrassment and remorse.
Oddly, the film lacks any footage of Twisted Sister’s videos or hit songs, which received heavy rotation on MTV. That may be a drawback for casual fans, but the juicy details about the band’s early days make up for it.