Alice Cooper bringing shock rock back to San Francisco

Courtesy PhotoNew ‘Nightmare’ Alice Cooper is touring

Courtesy PhotoNew ‘Nightmare’ Alice Cooper is touring

In Tim Burton’s campy reboot of the old horror soap opera “Dark Shadows,” it’s 1972, vampire patriarch Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) has just returned after 200 years of imprisonment, and a huge celebratory concert is scheduled.

To headline, a teenage descendant suggests the hottest act of the era, shock-rocker Alice Cooper – leading to some hilarious gags: Upon first spying the androgynous star onstage, Barnabas shudders, “Ugliest woman I’ve ever seen!”

But Burton added an extra illusion. Through motion-capture technology, he physically time-warped Cooper, 64, back four decades to his “Killer”-slithery self.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer – who plays San Francisco next week, backing his 2011 Bob Ezrin-produced recording “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” – said both Burton and Depp phoned him, insisting he be in their picture, snarling their favorite catalog chestnut, “The Ballad of Dwight Fry.”

“So we did a full day of shooting where they put 50 or 60 dots on my face, and dots on this 20-year-old kid’s face,” he says. “We both did ‘Dwight Fry’ and ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ they shot us in 360 degrees, and then they literally lifted his face off and put it on mine. It was quite an odd process.”

Cooper – born Vincent Furnier — originally nicked his mascara-dripping  persona from Bette Davis’ unhinged sister in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

When he and Burton met, they felt like long-lost brothers, and discussed horror films for hours. Ditto for Depp.

“We hit it off great, and now Johnny plays guitar with us all the time,” he says. “He’s joined us several times now, and he’s a really good guitar player.” Not that his current ax woman – the red-hot Orianthi – can’t hold her own on tour.

The new show is full of creepy surprises, Cooper promises, like  former extravaganzas that featured guillotines, electric chairs, live constrictors and gallons of fake blood.

The album also boasts different shocks alongside trademark venomous rockers like “I’ll Bite Your Face Off.”

Cooper teams with Nashville picker Vince Gill for two fiery tracks, and popdom’s Ke$ha for “What Baby Wants,” where she plays the devil.

“I like taking people out of their comfort zone,” he says.

Adding to this resurgence: Two new Universal theme-park rides, a Phoenix Coyotes bobblehead, and a passionate, pro-Alice rant in Bobcat Goldthwait’s great 2011 movie “God Bless America.”

“But with ‘Dark Shadows,’ I said, ‘guys, you’re going the wrong way – make me look older!’” says the long-sober singer. “I was doing everything I could to kill myself in 1972, and I looked like I was 70. So I look better now than I did then!”

artsentertainmentJohnny DeppmusicPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read