Last week, I took a chance on a little known US/German 2014 documentary on Netflix called We Are Twisted Fucking Sister. In case you aren’t aware, it’s a movie about the heavy metal band
Dokken Twisted Sister and charts the history of the band’s creation, rabid Sick Mother Fuckers fanbase, and hardcore work habits that dominated the New York-area clubs in the 70’s and early 80’s.
Clocking in at two hours and sixteen minutes, the film is a non-glamorous, nuts-&-bolts look at the rock’n’roll lifestyle.Produced by Andrew Horn, who won awards ten years earlier with his documentary on avant garde singer/performer/alien Klaus Nomi, WATFS lays it all bare as to how these guys became the best rock’n’roll of their time.. From the fan drinking contests held on stage to lead singer Dee Snider berating *anyone* looking like they weren’t having a good time to their utter hate for despicable disco music, the development of their satirical gender-bending style, the brutal work ethic of Snider and band creator Jay Jay French et al… if you weren’t a TS fan before this movie, you might just find yourself humming “I’ll Never Grow Up Now” by the end of it.
Members of the classic lineup such as Mark “The Animal” Mendoza, Eddie Ojeda, and the late AJ Pero (who died last year) are in it, as well as earlier members.
It ends just at the release of the album that would shoot them to MTV-worthiness, 1984’s Stay Hungry. That album spawned several rebellious videos such as their classic anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock“, classic music montages that featured TS fighting back at conformity and unchecked authority personified by Mark Metcalf’s über-tyrannical recreation of Douglas Niedermayer’s from the movie Animal House. These videos sliced a vein to bleed a non-compromising and antiauthoritarian cavalcade in a way that not even Mötley Crüe could touch with their “worthless and weak” video for “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” remake released the next year. I mean,yeah, Michael Berryman was creepy as hell in that video but he wasn’t even in the same galaxy with the Blind With Power Rage embodied by the man who would later play the Master in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Stay Hungry. That album. That album cover. What my parents must’ve thought finding that sitting on top of the stereo back home in Cheviot, Ohio. But it still holds up, as does most of the TS catalog. Sure, KISS might’ve been the more popular band but you cannot convince me that they were anywhere near the best compared to TS. While Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley might know a thing about marketing, they’re overrated pompous buffoons compared to French and Snider. TS never went disco (Dynasty) or got rid of their own image (lick that up) to produce weaker music (anything after Love Gun). Did Gene Simmons stand up to the PMRC? Hellzno. But Dee did.
So let’s just say that I’m all in for this documentary. Sure, two-plus hours might seem a long time to cover a band’s trajectory up to their biggest album, and that will surely disappoint some, but the joy in this movie is discovering that the band we know from those music videos actually were pretty fucking awesome beforehand. You discover that they were a well-kept secret before MTV airplay. And you’ll feel really jealous about it.
So enjoy it. I give it a definite thumbs up. Stay twisted, you sick motherfuckers.