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We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! - Collector's Edition
Like a lot of people around my approximate age, I remember the days of Twisted Sister in the early and mid-1980s, and the launch of their careers into the stratosphere through extensive airplay of their videos "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It," one of which included Mark Metcalf, who played Neidermeyer in Animal House. Like a lot of people around my approximate age, I had little knowledge of the story of the band and their existence to that point, and Andrew Horn's documentary (titled "We Are Twisted Fucking Sister!") tries to explain this.
Rather than serve as a career retrospective, the story of Twisted Sister started a decade before the release of its first album, in clubs in Long Island, New York and New Jersey. The band played covers from David Bowie and Mott the Hoople among others and eventually hired Dee Snider (then in a band of his own in the area at the time) to front the band. The group started their ascent as Dee and guitarist Jay Jay French would do what they could to stir audience response, and one night they held up a ‘Disco Sucks!' sign and that started to plant seeds of interest from the people.
Though the band had not recorded an album, they were doing just about everything else during their decade before stardom. They did merchandising, had a fan club, toured England, and while they didn't have a lot of nationwide or international popularity, those who did see them were their biggest fans, including a record executive who was threatened with his job if he didn't stop talking about them at one point. They got to England, caught the eye of an executive over there, and dominoes eventually started to fall.
Horn interviews the band's current and former members along with management and fans as they talk about some of the things they did and the memorable experiences in the years before making it big. And throughout the film (a mammoth two hours and thirteen minutes, I'll add), you can see that it's not just a love letter to the band but its desire to show that there was some sense of…nightlife(? Society?) in that area and what people liked and didn't, the lengths that the musicians took to do some of the things they did, and the film captures these things nicely. The final thoughts from Snider and French about the break to stardom is a little bit telling too; there is some regret in making some of the decisions they did, and perhaps they alienated some of their longtime fans in the process, but Twisted seems to have found a sense of closure to their arc as a band and continues playing today.
In a quiet and smart way "We Are Twisted Fucking Sister!" both covers the roots of the band and also serves as a statement by those still associated with them now. It not only gives the novice a deep dive into the workings of the band but shows their motivation and desires in playing, laughs at their errors and revels in their judgments. It's a film by a fan, for the fans.The Blu-ray:
The film is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and uses the AVC codec for its 1080i presentation, with the disc looking just fine. It juggles a variety of sources like camcorder footage at club shows, stills, old British television show footage is all incorporated into the mix with the contemporary interviews and things look fine throughout. Interviews look very good and possess ample color reproduction with little noise or saturation issues that weren't already inherent in the source. This is quality viewing.The Sound:
Two DTS-HD Master Audio lossless tracks, and I went for the 5.1 over the two-channel option. The music sounds clean as can be and the interviews are similar. There is a lack of channel panning or directional effects to this track, and the subwoofer does engage, albeit sparingly over the course of the film. But it's fine listening.Extras:
You get additional footage. A LOT of additional footage. It's thrown into various topics ("The Clubs," "The Fans" and "Attitude" among them) and there are multiple interviews in each. Running a little longer than the film itself (2:21:44), it's a worthy complement to the film. Horn also contributes a commentary which touches on his connection to the band, how he got some of the interview subjects and material for the film. He provides backstories on many people and stories in the film, while calling it the "Ben-Hur of rock documentaries." It's a track that's more remembrance of the events than on the production which is fine. There's also a trailer (2:23).Final Thoughts:
I came into "We Are Twisted Fucking Sister!" not knowing what to expect of a band that had a couple of hits then went away. I left with a deeper appreciation and understanding of their story and think that the film does a good job in illustrating that they may deserve a deeper place in rock history than what they have. Technically, the disc is solid and the extra material and commentary are nice. The film has been out for some time now and if you're looking for a change of pace (and a pleasant surprise), this may be the thing for you.