By 1975, Alice Cooper was now a solo artist. With the release of his first solo album Welcome to My Nightmare, Alice toured in support of the album with an elaborate stage show- complete with stage sets and a troupe of actors. During the tour, two shows at the Wembly Arena in London were filmed. The shows were later edited and released in 1976 as a concert movie, also titled Welcome to My Nightmare. Eagle Rock Entertainment have recently re-released the movie on a new DVD release, Welcome to My Nightmare- Special Edition. Not only does the DVD include the 1976 movie but it also includes the 1975 TV Special The Nightmare, which has never been released on DVD (hence the Special Edition subtitle). While it isn’t without its problems, it’s good to see these two features back in print.
Welcome to My Nightmare- The Concert Movie (1976)
Released in 1976, the Welcome to My Nightmare movie was not a hit at the box office. Nevertheless, fans still think highly of it. The movie was last released on DVD in 2002 via Rhino Records. While a solid release, fans have criticized the DVD for its poor audio quality. Watching the new DVD, it doesn’t look like anything has changed. There is, however, one change I’ve noticed: the performance of “Department of Youth” at the end is missing.
With all of this aside, Welcome to My Nightmare still manages to be a fun concert movie. From what’s been written over the years, the audio for the movie has always been strange so don’t let this distract you from enjoying the movie. While Alice still manages to put on good shows to this day, there probably won’t be anything that matches the extravagance and theatricality of the Nightmare tour.
Alice plays almost every song from the album, along with hits such as “I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and “School’s Out.” For the songs from Nightmare, Alice went all out: he’s decked out in an all white suit while dancing with skeletons during “Some Folks,” drags around a human sized rag doll during “Cold Ethyl,” and fights off huge spider during “The Black Widow.” Alice’s band even get in on the fun, with guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter dueling it out on their guitars during “Devil’s Brew.” Even some 40 years later, some the performances still look amazing- even if the movie is shown in 4:3.
The Nightmare- The TV Special (1975)
The Nightmare was a musical TV movie that aired on ABC in April of 1975, just one month after the release of the Welcome to My Nightmare album. In the special, Alice plays the role of Steven- a man who is stuck in a nightmare. Guiding him along the way is actor Vincent Price, who had already appeared on the original album.
The Nightmare is a great movie and makes for a good interpretation of the original album. It is extremely corny but how can it not be corny? Between this and the concert movie, I like this a little more. Watching the special, I wish Alice had done more things like this. This was right up his alley.
All of the musical numbers are great, with some of them being similar to the ones in the concert movie. For example, Alice is still dancing with skeletons during “Some Folks” and has spiders going after him during “The Black Widow.” Other numbers have different set ups- my two favorites being “Cold Ethyl” and “Department of Youth.” The former sees Alice on a set full of refrigerators while the latter has Alice in front of a green/blue screen- showing off his history via magazines and pictures up to that point in time. Even though it’s not on Welcome to My Nightmare, “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” is included in this special as well.
As for the sound and video for The Nightmare, I’d say it’s pretty decent. The DVD’s booklet cites that the original source of the special was of “variable” quality. Despite this, there was an attempt made to enhance it. There are a few times when you see some video lines on the screen. Other than that, I think the sound and video are good enough. I’ll say it looks better than any of the clips I’ve seen online on YouTube over the years.
Whether or not you own the 2002 Rhino DVD on the concert movie, I highly recommend getting this still. The Rhino DVD did have some bonus features on there, including an audio commentary with Alice and even a trivia game. Those features are not on this new DVD, nor are there any new bonus features. Still, this is a good deal: you’re getting two interpretations of the 1975 album album for $12 or so. If you do have the Rhino DVD, you might want to hold onto it for the bonus features. If you don’t have this at all, what’re you waiting for?