Sunday, May 1, 2016

We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!-Andrew Horn, dir., 2014; Music Box Films

3274 shows are a lot, and, according to the initial footage of Andrew Horn's We Are Twisted F***king Sister!, that's how many that Twisted Sister played up until their big break, which happened live on the British airwaves and led to their signing to Atlantic Records.
The film gives a deeply detailed, first hand account of the group's circuitous march to Rock stardom. Disaster Amnesiac marveled at guitarist Jay Jay French's blunt recounting of all the steps that he had to take, over a decade of bar band slog, in order to achieve his dream. Along with his capacity as guitarist and song writer, he managed this band of unruly rockers for years, clearly not an easy task within the Darwinian milieu in the New York City area. With his pragmatic, getting things done at any cost vision, he struck this viewer as a more talkative Greg Ginn! Not to turn this post into an unwitting Black Flag tribute, but second Sister singer Dee Snider, with his witty eloquence, actually made Disaster Amnesiac think of Henry Rollins. Surely these two must know each other by now?
In Snider, the band clearly had another driven, take no prisoners type of guy, and the combination of the he and French seems to have solidified that fact that Twisted Sister was going to achieve their goals at any and all costs. We Are Twisted F***king Sister! additionally features compelling, almost color commentary style footage from the rest of the group, Kenny Neill, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza, and A.J. Pero (RIP) who add small details and insights to flesh out the somewhat longer clips of French and Snider.
Along with these insider views, the film smartly utilizes interviews with several members of the band's early, rabid fan base. These were the people that made occurrences such as a 22,000 person attendance for a free show in Long Island possible, along with filled-to-capacity theaters all over New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The fact that Twisted Sister was able to meet these kind of numbers without the support of any type of label or even real management, for years, stands not only as a testament to their hard work, but also to that of their fans' dedication. Disaster Amnesiac found this nod to them to be very classy.
As for the "from the stage" bullying that Snider et al meted out to those in the crowds that didn't share in the enthusiasm.....not so much. I guess that they did what they had to do, but, watching Snider's recounting of that dynamic, I felt a bit disgusted. Maybe they could have let their tight Street Rock have the desired effect upon potential new fans?
That criticism aside, by the later portions of We Are Twisted F***king Sister!, Disaster Amnesiac was all in, rooting for the band as they navigated their last few, still fraught with missteps, moves into the upper echelons of Rock stardom.
Bands are often about drama, belief, and overcoming. Twister Sister had all of these, in huge doses. We Are Twisted F***king Sister! is as good an inside view of the messy and tough world of band life as I can recall seeing.

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