Chronicling the early chapters of the band, this documentary is jam packed with interviews from the members, crew, management, family and fans related to the band over it’s considerable history. Going back to 1973 and leading up to when the band exploded internationally in 1984 is the primary era focused on in this over 2 hour film.
Guitarist JJ French leads through much of the film as he was one of the founding members with Dee Snider being added later on after numerous singers before him. There was even a time when JJ tried his hand at lead vocals just prior to Dee joining the lineup. The band’s past is much more complicated than you would think if you only came to know them in the 80’s as I did. I discovered the band during their “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll” days after they had already evolved through 3 or 4 other variations of themselves. That’s one of the things that’s interesting about the band, they’ve morphed from a cheesy cover band that played in bars to a hard rock band that was packing halls of 3,000 people without a record contract or radio airplay before the days of the internet.
Record companies in the states ignored them and said they were a joke because of the makeup and costumes. However, a punk label out of the UK recognized something was going on when they attended one of the band’s massive shows and saw the reaction they were getting and off the band went to London to record their debut. After many Spinal Tap moments that followed the release of their first album, the US labels finally showed up a bit late to the party to help take the band to the national stage.
There are a lot of interviews in here to fill in all the details and I have to say the film kept moving and kept my interest the whole time. Sometimes interviews can drag even through interesting material but this film was fun to watch, had a great pace and plenty of compelling moments peppered in there as well.
If you’re a fan of the band or of music documentaries in general, catch this one on Netflix.
reviewed by Sean McKnight