Twisted Sister: Twisted Christmas Live (DVD)

The “S” in “SMF” doesn’t stand for Santa.

Not only did Twisted Sister make a Christmas album, but it was an enormous success, selling millions overnight. That led to this DVD, capturing the heavy metal band’s follow-up Christmas concert at the Las Vegas Hilton.

The concert features all five original members of the band—Jay Jay French and Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda on guitar, Mark “The Animal” Mendoza on bass, A.J. Pero on drums, and, of course, the SMF himself, Dee Snider on vocals.

Here’s the songlist:
• “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas”
• “White Christmas”
• “Shoot ‘Em Down”
• “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
• “Deck The Halls”
• “The Price”
• “O Come All Ye Faithful”
• “Burn in Hell”
• “Silver Bells”
• “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
• “I Wanna Rock”
• “The 12 Days of Christmas” (Encore)
• “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Encore)

For the most part, the Christmas songs are the classics we all know. The band has merely taken them, sped them up, and added some metal guitar riffs. Simple, but effective. A few of the songs get tweaked lyrics—Mommy is now doing a lot more to Santa than just kissing him—but other than that, the show delivers what’s promised, metal versions of holiday standards. If nothing else, the familiarity of the songs means we really take notice of the guitar work, and discover—or rediscover—just how talented these guys are.

The band also breaks out some of its own hits. Snider, as always, knows how to work the crowd, getting the audience to sing along with “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The highlight of the show is a powerful performance of “The Price,” in which Snider temporarily drops the rock-star-on-a-rampage act and instead sings from the heart. The band also performs “Burn in Hell.” as a friend of mine recently pointed out, this was the song Snider sang just before Santa’s sleigh crashed into him in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, so this isn’t the band’s first run-in with Christmas.

The concert is filmed in a straightforward manner, so the emphasis is on the performance, without the flashy or creative camera work seen in more famous concert films. Whether that’s a positive or negative is up to you. Far deeper in the negative column is a bit near the end, when the music stops for a comedy sketch in which “Satan Claus” shows up with Christmas presents for the band. This might’ve been mildly funny if it didn’t go on so for long. The biggest laugh it gets is when Jay Jay French says to Satan Claus, “This was supposed to be a three-minute skit.”

The video presentation is mediocre. You get a good sense of what’s happening, but colors are flat and black levels have a slight grayness to them. The audio, the key component of a music DVD, makes up for any deficiencies in the picture. The clarity of the audio means the guitar solos never sound like mere screeching. Instead, they’re clear enough to make out each individual note and beat, allowing you to immerse yourself in the music. Granted, this is a mere 2.0 stereo track, and one wonders how much better it might be in surround, but for what it is, the sound is excellent. There are no extras.

When I first heard there was a Twisted Sister Christmas album, I had nightmare visions of David Lee Roth’s bluegrass versions of Van Halen classics—and if you’ve heard these, you know the horror. Fortunately, Twisted Sister is still Twisted Sister, and their fans will enjoy seeing them stick it to Christmas. If you’re someone who hates Twisted Sister (a.k.a. my parents) then this disc has nothing for you.

The Verdict

I wanna DECK! (the halls)

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