Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Dee Snider's Strangeland (1998)
Artisan Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

Dee SNider's STarngelandAs a long time listener to Howard Stern's morning radio show, I'd been hearing about "Dee Snider's horror movie project" for some time. While most bad-80s (and I mean that in the best way possible) metal icons had gone the way of middle age and sad gigs at local taverns, Snider inexplicably reinvented himself as a trash-talking-metal-know-it-all for a target audience still hooked on Ozzy and airplane glue. Rebellion comes in some funny wrappers these days.

Anyway, STRANGELAND was all Snider could talk about whenever he visited buddy Stern's show. It shoulda probably been a bad sign that it took so long for the project to develop, but I was intrigued enough when the flick hit the video store shelves to give it a spin. What probably intrigued me most was how someone like Snider got his name above the title when his previous claim to fame was screeching glammed-out metal anthems while clad in a fright wig, torn fishnet hose and high heels.

The "plot" of STRANGELAND concerns a cop whose daughter falls prey to the evil, pierced and tattooed Captain Howdy (Snider). Immediately, one wonders why Snider chose to use the name Captain Howdy for his villainous visage. Film buffs will recall that it's the name of The Devil in THE EXORCIST. Music freaks might recall that it's the name of the inde band led by Penn Jillette and avant-rock god Kramer. And leather-wearing hard rock lovers will tell you that Simon Stokes did a song by that name with the band Conqueror Worm. Which places Snider fourth on the depth chart of cleverness.

However, if the character-name-lifting was the flick's lone shortcoming I could easily excuse it. Unfortunately, this thing SUCKS! Despite the couple, and I do mean couple, clever bits that elevate it from absolutely dreadful to almost watchable, STRANGELAND suffers from one insulting device that any viewer with an IQ above 40 simply can't excuse.

Why is it that when "the story" jumps ahead four years, everything looks exactly the same. And folks, when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING! Computers, cars, clothes, haircuts, houses, people, on-line services ... EVERYTHING! Think back four years ... how much has your hair changed? Your car? Your on-line service has probably changed measurably in the last four MONTHS. And what are the odds that a club would close and four years, I'm talking FOUR YEARS, later the decorations, furniture, etc. would all be in the exact same place, just covered with plastic sheets?

Forget the lame story, weak villain and outrageously anti-climactic finale. STRANGELAND's insulting approach to the march of time is reason enough to avoid this garbage.

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