The Alice Cooper TV-special The Nightmare, based on his first solo album Welcome To My Nightmare had its US debut on 25 April 1975. You can watch it in full at the end of this post.

In the Emmy-award winning special, Cooper is Steven, a young man trapped in a nightmare of his own making, from which he cannot escape. Vincent Price, who originally lent his iconic voice to the introduction to The Black Widow, appears as the Spirit of the Nightmare – Steven’s sinister guide through his experience.

All 12 tracks from the album were performed, with the addition of Ballad of Dwight Fry from the Love It to Death album.

In 1983, the TV special was released on VHS and Betamax home video in the US, but was later discontinued until 2017, when it was included on a special edition DVD, along with the 1976 concert film. You can order it from Amazon here.

• Alice Cooper’s original conception was radically different from what the album, concert and this tie-in TV special ultimately became. He met with director Daniel Mann to discuss the project on the set of Journey Into Fear (1975), where he was introduced to Vincent Price, who ended up not only supplying the narration to The Black Widow, but also ended up getting a starring role in the concept as a whole.

• Cooper later recalled, ‘Vincent was in his element because he had me on a leash… I said, “Don’t be afraid to yank the leash. Make this like one of your movies where I’m just like this little pet of yours that you’re showing around!”

• When Price showed up at the studio to record his vocals for The Black Widow, he shocked onlookers by arriving in a Hawaiian shirt and striped pants. Cooper commented that Price looked like Ronald McDonald, and there was talk of renaming his character, Jolly MacAmbre, Tour Guide at the Pasadena Palace of Insects.

• The special was shot in Toronto, where Cooper’s favorite beer was unavailable, so he had 40 cases of Budweiser shipped in to get him through the filming.

• Price reprised his role live on stage for a December 1975 concert at Lake Tahoe.

Leaving lepidoptera – please, don’t touch the display, little boy, aha cute! Moving to the next aisle we have arachnida, the spiders, our finest collection. This friendly little devil is the heptothilidi, unfortunately harmless. Next to him, the nasty licosa raptoria, his tiny fangs cause creeping ulcerations of the skin.

And here, my prize, the Black Widow. Isn’t she lovely?.. and so deadly. Her kiss is fifteen times as poisonous as that of the rattlesnake. You see her venom is highly neurotoxic, which is to say that it attacks the central nervous system causing intense pain, profuse sweating, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, violent convulsions and, finally.. death.

You know what I think I love the most about her is her inborn need to dominate, possess. In fact, immediately after the consummation of her marriage to the smaller and weaker male of the species she kills and eats him –

Oh, she is delicious.. and I hope he was! Such power and dignity – unhampered by sentiment. If I may put forward a slice of personal philosophy, I feel that man has ruled this world as a stumbling dimented child-king long enough! And as his empire crumbles, my precious Black Widow shall rise as his most fitting successor!

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