American music icon Alice Cooper is often regarded as ‘The Godfather of Shock Rock’, known for his unique artistic sensibilities which draw inspiration from a variety of disciplines. Credited as the musician who popularised the incorporation of horror imagery in rock and roll, Cooper has always maintained that he owes a lot to the extensive tradition of horror cinema which has helped him on his own journey.
As is natural, many fans have been curious about Cooper’s taste in horror films and the musician hasn’t shied away from answering such questions. In an interview, Cooper included the 1979 TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot on his list of favourite horror projects by claiming that it was a truly terrifying experience.
While discussing the Stephen King adaptation, Cooper declared that it was the finest of its kind: “[I]t was truly one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. It had about six or seven different scenes in it that were absolutely terrifying…I think it was the best version of any of Stephen King’s things. And it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.”
He justified his claims by explaining why the miniseries was so effective, citing the impact of filmmaker Tobe Hooper: “[The] music is insane in it. [It was] directed by [Texas Chainsaw Massacre director] Tobe Hooper…[And it had] the greatest vampire I ever saw in my life, Barlow. I mean, he is more terrifying than anything I’ve ever seen.”
However, Cooper’s favourite horror film of all time isn’t a Stephen King adaptation like The Shining or a Tobe Hooper project. Instead, Cooper revealed that the horror film he enjoyed the most was Suspiria – the 1977 masterpiece by Italian filmmaker Dario Argento which is regularly cited as one of the most exquisite horror films of the 20th century.
Suspiria features Jessica Harper as a young ballet student from America who travels to an ominous dance academy in Germany. The film is noted for its use of stellar techniques and a visual narrative that is fuelled by the outburst of colours, an undeniable mark of Argento’s genius. However, Suspiria was considered to be controversial at the time of its release.
“The financiers and distributors got scared and said audiences don’t want to see children murdered on screen,” Argento explained. “But I kept many elements in the film that were conceived for a cast of children: the dialogue didn’t really change, only a few parts were updated; and small elements remained to give a child’s perspective, like the door handles in the school are positioned high up. These things helped keep an atmosphere of innocence and purity.”