Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 4/2/99
1998 (1999) - Artisan
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
It's a goofy horror flick, is all. Although I found the IDEA quite
intriguing, the execution wasn't as stellar as it could have been.
Maybe someday Snider will find his writing legs. Hell, he gave us
some classic metal tunes.
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
The picture is pretty damn good for an independent horror film. The
sound is pretty standard, nothing all that special. The extras,
well, they too are pretty cool for a horror flick.
Overall Rating: B+
The movie is watchable, the disc even more so. I have no idea how
Artisan did it with this film, but they managed a pretty cool disc.
91 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ???), Amaray keep
case packaging, theatrical trailer, commentary track with
screenwriter/star Dee Snider, Collector's
Compendium comic insert, music videos by Sevendust,
dayinthelife and Kid Rock, production notes, cast & crew bios,
film-themed menu screens, scene access (36 chapters), languages:
English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Close Captioned
"We're not gonna take it. No. We ain't gonna take it. We're
not gonna take -- anymore."
Yes, those words were a soundtrack to the lives of many late 20
somethings. Dee Snider and his crew of hard rockin', big hair
wearin', tight pant havin' mates gave some of us a reason to bang
our heads. No, Twisted Sister didn't have the staying power of, say
Metallica -- but they did blow Striper out of the water. These days,
not much is heard about Twisted Sister as a group. We do know that
Dee has gone onto a killer radio career with a syndicated radio
show, showcasing great hair bands through the ages. Well, good for
him. Oh, and he's also a writer/producer/actor. Now we know what he
wants to do with his life. Not only does he wanna rock; he wants to
make movies too. His first one is called Strangeland,
and I'll tell ya about it.
Strangeland, or for some
Carpenteresque reason Dee Snider's
Strangeland, is about monsters. One monster, really. A
monster named Captain Howdy. Captain Howdy (given stiff life by Mr.
Snider himself) isn't a very nice man. He's a sexual sadist and a
body art enthusiast. You see, from head to toe, he's covered in
tattoos and piercings -- it's all quite evil. He also enjoys luring
young people to his home, via the Internet chat rooms, for a little
one-on-one piercing. Ears, nose, scrotum -- it makes no difference
to our Cap'n. He pierces, kills and rapes without conscience and
without any prejudice.
The story of Howdy is a long and sordid tale, so we will leave this
focused on the events of the film, which involve Howdy conning a
young woman into his lair. He uses the Internet, and if everything
that Howdy does on the net proves to be true, I'm no longer working
for that Internet porn site. Okay, well, everything would be fine
for our new friend Howdy, except the young woman is the daughter of
a police detective. Uh-Oh. Kevin Gage plays the crime stopping pop.
Action film fans may remember Gage as the white supremacist in Con
Air -- he was quite believable. At least more believable
than he is in this movie. Gage has the emotional depth of a pair of
pruning shears, I'm afraid. Anyway, he does everything he can to
find his missing daughter (which isn't much), and eventually is
aided by his partner (a very, very, VERY bad Brett Harrelson), and
some young blonde hotty friend of the grieving family.
Gage finds the trail left by Howdy, and next thing we know (in a
scene ripped right out of Silence Of The
Lambs), he stumbles onto Howdy's home, saving his
daughter and rescuing a bunch of freshly augmented teens. Oh, and
Howdy is arrested, put into prison, found Not Guilty by reasons of
insanity and rehabilitated. See, kids, justice can work for you.
For all of you out there saying, "Oh, Doogan, you gave away
the movie. I hate you. Oh, and you don't know how to use the word "effect"
properly," all I have to say is -- quit your whining. That's
only the beginning of our story.
What Dee Snider has done, is create a pretty cool film
villain/monster. Captain Howdy could be real; he could be lurking on
the net now. I don't truly appreciate the tattoo/pierce thing much
-- considering I'm both and don't feel that it makes me evil. Plus,
I really don't like the art done on Dee's body. It's not as cool as
it could be, they really could have done a better job. Aside from
that, Howdy is pretty scary as a villain. The guy knows pain, and
he's not afraid of it.
As for the movie? It's all right. You can tell it's Dee's first
foray into script writing. The dialogue is flat and forced, and it
could have used a good rewriting for the actors to give it some
personality. But the story is tense and I enjoyed watching it. Yeah,
it's a bit predictable, but not overly so. The direction is low rent
MTV, but that's exactly what a movie like this needs. All in all,
it's a so-so movie, that could use a good Friday pizza and beer
viewing with the boys or girls, depending on your sex. I think a
group would have more fun with this than someone by themselves.
That's not to say it's not enjoyable - it's just more fun to watch
The DVD is pretty cool. The image quality sent me back a couple of
feet. It always surprises me how good a movie can look on DVD.
Especially if the movie is a shoestring-budgeted independent film
like this one. The blacks are black, the colors sharp and there's no
artifacting that I noticed anywhere on this disc. The commentary
included here is by Dee, and he really enjoyed making this movie.
You can tell he really loves this flick. Some of the acting or
writing flaws he points out as being magically great. It's pretty
laughable. He doesn't shed much light, nor is he revealing much -
but he is fun to listen to. He's like a bad DJ on a Friday night.
There's a handful of extras on top of that - a healthy crop of
videos and cast/crew bios, with a trailer and production notes too.
Inside most copies, you'll also find a mini-comic from Lady
Death creator Brian Pulido, which features an interview
with Snider and band Sevendust, as well as some neat artwork by
Chaos Comics artists. For those of you with anamorphic widescreen
capabilities, Strangeland is
16x9 enhanced, so enjoy. All in all, it's a nice package for such a
B grade flick. I'm happily surprised.
Who doesn't like a watchable ,crappy flick every once in a while?
This is no Bride Of Chucky or
Nightmare On Elm Street, but
it's fine for what it is. The disc looks and sounds great, and its
got some goodies on it, for those of you who want to know how a
movie like this gets made. I'd have to say I'm not a fan of this
film, but I'm curious to see what they do with the sequel. Of
course, you know there's gonna be a sequel...