CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.7 – Alice Cooper: He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) (1986)

Director: Jeffrey Abelson
Performer: Alice Cooper
Writers: Alice Cooper, Kane Roberts, Tom Kelly
Musicians: Kane Roberts, David Rosenberg, Donnie Kisselbach, Kip Winger, Paul Delph
Producer: Michael Wagener

With 1985’s Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning not only disappointing critics but alienating the fans, Paramount soon realised that they had to bring Jason Voorhees back in a new and exciting way. New Line Cinema had given the studio a major rival with their inventive and stylish A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and so the producers decided that the only way to survive was to embrace other mediums such as merchandise and music videos. In an effort to convince fans that their favourite serial killer would be making a triumphant return, series producer Frank Mancuso Jr. enlisted the assistance of another star whose glory days seemed far behind him. Alice Cooper had been one of the most controversial entertainers of the 1970s with his brand of outrageous stage theatrics (including Grand Guignol-style executions) but due to an excessive lifestyle of alcoholism his career had come to a standstill, resulting in a slew of obscure albums that failed to achieve the acclaim of his earlier work. Despite a consistant output of interesting and varied material (including the highly underrated 1980 album Flush the Fashion), fans had begun to look elsewhere for their thrills, with a new generation of heavy metal bands embracing similar theatrics (such W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister).

By 1986, Cooper had sobered up and was determined to save his flagging career. After forming a creative partnership with imposing guitarist Kane Roberts and producers Beau Hill and Michael Wagener, he began work on what he hoped would be his comeback record. Once again returning to the outrageous image he had utilised throughout the ’70s (including his trademark eyeliner), Cooper would co-write ten tracks for what would become Constrictor, eventually making its debut on September 22nd 1986. Six weeks earlier, Paramount would release their sixth entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, Jason Lives, which they had also intended to use as a comeback following the financial disappointment of A New Beginning. Sensing the commercial prospect of being involved in a high profile slasher film, Cooper would contribute three songs for the movie; two from his latest LP and one exclusive track, Hard Rock Summer. With tie-in merchandise becoming big business in the wake of Star Wars, many studios had capitalised on their products with ranges of toys, clothes and even lunchboxes. And with MTV now such a major force in America, it was perhaps inevitable that the slasher would eventually break out into music videos as well. Despite Jason Lives‘ Tom McLoughlin expressing enthusiasm at directing the promo, the studio instead opted to hire Jeffrey Abelson, who later shoot another video for a hit movie, the Guns N’ Roses track You Could Be Mine, which was released to coincide with James Cameron’s 1991 blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The video opened with a teenage boy, Jason, pleading with his father (whose face remains unseen) to lend him his car, claiming that he had achieved the grades they had previously agreed on. But the father, noticing that his report card also featured D’s and F’s, refuses the request and suggests that he and his girlfriend walk to the cinema. The doors of the theatre open and the audience begins to pile in, an assortment of goths and punk rockers, many copying the image of Alice Cooper (and one of them carrying the infamous hockey mask). The movie being screened is the latest Friday the 13th flick and Jason finally arrives as the film begins, making his way with his date across the row to an empty seat. Many of the clips shown from Jason Lives play out in chronological order, with the opening sequence showing Tommy Jarvis and fellow institute resident Allen Hawes making their way into a cemetary to find a headstone that reads ‘Jason Voorhees.’ Tommy decides to dig up the grave but suddenly Jason swings towards the camera on a rope, ripping through the cinema screen and tearing off his mask to reveal Alice Cooper.

Jason and his date cower in fear as Alice looms over them whilst singing about ‘The man behind the mask.’ Sitting down on his throne, Alice then begins to warn the viewer about the dangers of skinny dipping late at night, whilst his audience watch petrified. Meanwhile, a montage of clips from the feature film continue, which include shots of the paintball massacre (which featured stuntman Dan Bradley in the role of Jason, who was eventually replaced by C.J. Graham) and the double impalement of lovers Steven and Annette. After attempting to resist Alice’s seduction, Jason and his girlfriend charge the stage and try to escape but as they make their way to the exit a bulking figure in a hockey mask appears and captures them. Alice pulls a lever, forcing a cage down and trapping them, but after taunting them suddenly breaks the lock, allowing them to escape. But, as the crowd leaves the cinema after the show, Alice is pulled back through the movie screen by Jason Voorhees. Back in his father’s office, young Jason admits that he didn’t understand what he had seen whilst watching the movie. Suddenly, his father spins around on his chair to reveal Alice Cooper.

The marketing department certainly felt inspired whilst planning Jason’s big comeback for Friday the 13th Part VI, as the collaboration of both Jason Voorhees and Alice Cooper was ingenious. Both had shocked and disgusted audiences, angered critics and made an impact on popular culture, before suddenly losing their magic and being reduced to mere has-beens. He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) captured the true spirit of the franchise with both its tongue-in-cheek lyrics and horror-style music. The video itself shared many similarities with the cult Italian flick Dèmoni (aka Demons), released the previous year, which depicted an audience at a late night screening of a horror movie being terrorised by the events on screen. The promo clip received heavy airplay throughout the late ’80s on such rock shows as Headbangers Ball and The Power Hour and resulted in Cooper landing a small but memorable role in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness in 1987, before once again reaching the top of the charts with his album Trash two years later (which would boast, among others, the smash hit single Poison). The song and video for He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask would not only play a small part in resurrecting the Friday the 13th franchise but would also once again help the slasher film penetrate the mainstream.

Further reading -
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.1 – Friday the 13th (1980)
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.2 – Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.3 – Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.4 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.5 – Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
- CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.6 – Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

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About the Author

Christian Sellers

Christian Sellers is a film critic for various horror magazines, he owns and runs horror site Dr. Gore's Funhouse.com and music site Love-It-Loud.com and is the author of The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead. Email: [email protected]

20 Responses to “ CRYSTAL LAKE’S BLOODY LEGACY pt.7 – Alice Cooper: He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) (1986) ”

  1. Big Alice Cooper fan here. I love how He did all the music for Jason Lives minus the song “Animal” by the band Felony. I remember the music video for Man Behind The Mask. A true video for Jason fans.

  2. I always felt the video caught the spirit of the franchise really well. Shame they couldn’t get the rights to include it on the DVD.

  3. Alice Cooper was the perfect choice in getting people interested in seeing F13 6. Paramount was smart to put both Alice and Jason together to promote the movie, it was a great marketing play and it played off very nicely. I agree its too bad they didn’t add his video for an extra on the DVD release of Jason Lives. Could change someday.

  4. Just bought the 7″ vinyl of this with the original Constrictor poster that came with it, it’s one of my most prized possesions, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Hevymentl13

  5. I remember a heavy metal show that used to be on in the UK on Friday night (well, Saturday morning at about 1:30am) called Power Hour and they used to play this video a lot. I was a major fan of both Friday the 13th and Alice Cooper so I could never get enough of watching it. Even the lyrics sum up the series pretty well.

  6. I liked Friday The 13th part 6, but the man in the mask is pretty cheesy. I think Alice Cooper’s song ‘Poison’ is way better.

  7. I agree it wasn’t his best song (most of them were in the ’70s) but felt it was a good companion to the movie.

  8. It may seem cheesy now, but in the mid 80’s, that’s the kind of music that was going on…if someone remade the song in a more Metal style, I think the lyrics would hold up great.

    Hevymentl13

  9. For some reason I always felt the end credits to Jason X should have had a Rob Zombie cover of this song. To me Jason X felt like the end of a franchise, with him landing on Earth 2 to reveal another group of horny kids going to check out something weird by the lake. Just seemed like it was starting all over again and I kinda wish they’d left it there. With Zombie being such an Alice fan he could have done a faithful and funky version of this.

  10. yea you guys are right. i would love to hear a reinvented version of the man behind the mask. i do think that the keyboards is what makes it sound kinda cheesy. alice cooper is alright in my book. someone should come up with a new song for the next movie. that would be cool.

  11. I think the timing of this was perfect though as Alice was just starting to make a comeback after several albums that failed to sell. I know what you mean about the keyboards but for me that gives it a camp ’80s charm.

  12. I love this song. I normally can’t go a week without listening to it a few times. Pure classic.

  13. While I am probably not the worlds biggest Alice Cooper fan, I do own all but three of his albums on CD. This man changed the way the music industry was percieved in the exact same way that Friday the 13th changed the way the film industry was percieved. Like the films his entire career has been subjected to outrage and negative attacks by the so-called \moral majority\. He was a perfect fit with Jason and Friday the 13th. On an interesting sidenote, I remember reading an article on this website some time ago about Rob Zombie ripping the Friday the 13th franchise for being the \worst\ of the slasher films. That’s too bad, because like everyne else posting I think a RZ remake of TMBTM would probably sell millions. Yeah… It’s cheesy… Yeah… It reeks of the 80’s… So what’s not to love about it? :p

  14. Funny that Rob Zombie would slate the Friday the 13th franchise, he’s the most overrated horror filmmaker working in the industry today. He’s a great musician but a shit director. The Devil’s Rejects was a great exercise in excess but after watching all his other films I kinda feel now like that was more through accident than talent.

  15. I patially agree with Christian. I did like the first Halloween film he did, but the second was garbage. Devil’s rejects was good, but only because he took the opposite approach he did in House of 1000 Corpses. Basically both the same film, but from different perspectives. But yeah… His music is freakin awesome, and he has probably one of the hottest wives in rock history (Wipes the drool). But he needs to stick to music and let the famous franchises alone.

  16. I guess it was inevitable that Zombie would eventually turn to directing horror movies as his music had constantly referenced the genre. White Zombie did an album called Make Them Die Slowly (the alternative title for Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox), their cover of I’m Your Boogie Man featured samples from the original Halloween and they would also record songs with titles such as I Am Legend and Crow III (which, ironically, Zombie would pen the script for over a decade later, despite his story eventually being scrapped). Then, of course, the band themselves were named after a Bela Lugosi movie from the 1930s. Just a shame his passion for horror movies wasn’t matched by his talent.

  17. I absolutely disagree with these remarks of some about Rob Zombie’s directing talent. Apart from the fact weither or not one liked House of 1000 Sorpses, Devil’s Rejects, Halloween, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and Halloween 2(Which I’ve all enjoyed greatly), one cannot denie that he has a great talent for esthetic(his photography and design are beautiful) as well as his story-telling and music taste. You can draw countless parables to Tarantino and specifically(regarding esthetic) the movie Natural Born Killers. The point I’m making is, he has a unique style, that anyone can recognise. That’s a feat in itself.

    Although I do agree that he tends to write dialogue that is rather ridiculous. Although there are many scenes in H2 that has very realistic non redneck-ish dialogue.

  18. Captain Subtext, I suggest some kind of spell checker perhaps?

    I personally love his music but think his films seem like they were written by a fourteen year old. He needs to grow up and make an adult horror, not some childish schlock.

  19. Whoa there Captain Subtext. We don’t want a flame war. Just do me a favor and watch the priginal Halloween 2 and then RZ’s H2. If he wanted to make the original scary again, then what was he thinking with H2? Chanelling his mother? Did he ever hear of Psycho? I don’t dislike the guy but I think he coulda put a little more effort into making the sequel. I liked his vision in the first halloween, but let’s face facts. H2 was another excuse for him to show his hot wife off to the world, at least in my opinion. It’s cool if you liked it. I am not down on you for it. I just have a different opinion than you. Besides, this site is for Jason, not Mike Meyers. As always, just one Jason fans opinion.

  20. @BillWalters

    H2 was rushed, Zombie couldn’t make the movie he wanted to make. It’s also unconvincing to say he ‘H2 was another excuse to show his hot wife’, there are countless director’s(Coen Brothers, Tarantino, Woody Allen) who use the same actors in different movies, Joel Coen for instance puts his wife Franced McDormand in his movies on a regular basis.

    The main reason there is such hate for Zombie’s movies is because his movies have a very distinctive feel, which can be off-putting. You either love it or hate it.

    To be quite honest, I think H2 pissed many people off was because they couldn’t handle the artistic merit of a lot of the scenes that included his mother, as a David Lynch adept I totally loved it though.

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