There is an absurdly vast selection of music movies and documentaries available on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and on and on and on. But it’s hard to tell which ones are actually worth your 100 minutes. Watch the Tunes will help you pick what music doc is worth your Netflix and Chill time every weekend. This week’s edition coversWe Are Twisted F*cking Sister!, which is streaming over at Netflix.
While this is not the first documentary that we’ve looked at that’s dropped an f-bomb right there in its title (shouts toWho the F**k Is Arthur Fogelfor popping that bubble) it’s definitely the first that totally warranted it. I was honestly skeptical when Storf tossedWe Are Twisted F*cking Sister!in the hopper, since hair metal was never really my thing and I thought of Twisted Sister as one of the most comical and over the top examples of the genre. I was legitimately knocked on my ass though by how awesome this ballsy doc ended up being!
For most people, Twisted Sister was the scary bubble gum band that tormented parents in the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video that ran in steady rotation on MTV throughout the ‘80s, but surprisingly their history goes back a LOT farther than that. In fact, anyone who’s jumping intoWe Are Twisted F*cking Sister!expecting to hear stories about ‘80s rock and roll millionaire decadence is going to be bummed out since the film makes the wild move of stopping pretty much precisely when the band gets signed to Atlantic. Instead of all that MTV generation nonsense, we get something that’s so much better. We get to see a band literally grinding it out night after night in sweaty clubs and theaters all over Long Island and New Jersey for damn near a decade before they went multi-platinum.
Maybe I shouldn’t be as surprised about all of this as I am. I guess I always assumed Twisted Sister appeared fully formed in 1984 ready to take over the TV and radio with their neon makeup, bleached out hair, and colorful gender-bending outfits. But they fought for years to eventually be the right band in the right place at the right time to corner the market of premium cable glammy insanity. And, let’s be honest, that’s exactly what Twisted Sister were: Glam. When they started out as a bar band in New Jersey they were doing their best to approximate Bowie, Iggy, and Marc Bolan way more than anyone looking to write them off would have you believe.
One of the most surprising and charming things aboutWe Are Twisted F*cking Sister!is the way that the fans are interwoven throughout the film. Often times they would travel hours and hours to see their heroes perform, many of them multiple times a week. Granted, it’s not exactly a Grateful Dead parking lot sort of vibe, but the dedication of their fanbases definitely overlap. A number of times Snyder will talk about how he would turn the shows into a rally for inclusiveness, and there’s a ton of footage to back that claim up. The audiences were pretty much made up of oddball social outcasts who had found their niche, united by a burning hatred of Disco (which is kind of just the other side of the glam coin, in a way).
As anyone who’s ever seen Dee Snider’s 1985 testimony before the US Senate against the Parents Music Resource Center (who put those “Parental Advisory” stickers on every album worth owning) can attest, the guy has his shit together way more than you’d expect him to. As such he makes for a really wonderful interview. He wasn’t into booze and drugs during the band’s heyday coming up, so all of his stories are coherent and sincerely funny. The footage they unearthed for this thing is all incredible as well, allowing you to see the evolution of their fashion sense along with their rise to fame.
Of the flicks I’ve looked at for this column, this one caught me the most by surprise, and I can’t help but wholeheartedly recommend it. So many docs just plow through the Behind The Music road map, but We Are Twisted F*cking Sister!takes a hard left turn by not covering their whole story and in doing so finds a much more fascinating story to tell about a band that you probably only think you know.