Monday, July 28, 2008

Dee Snider's StrangeLand

Welcome back Sporefans. I must admit that today's review is a strange one indeed. Not because the movie was so strange. There was no subject in this movie that hadn't already been touched upon more explicitly by an episode of TV's CSI. No, today's review is strange because we are posing a question; a question about the author and main actor of this movie. For today, we're reviewing Dee Snider's Strangeland; and I must put fourth the following: Is Dee Snider a genius, or a moron?

At first this might seem like a simple question to answer, but lets examine the movie before we jump to any conclusions. Strangeland is about a man who goes by the name of "Captain Howdy", who is played by none other than Dee Snider himself. Captain Howdy (who's real name is Carleton Hendricks apparently), lurks about the Internet hoping to lure teens to his creepy old house. Once there he tortures the teens in an attempt to show them enlightenment through pain. Wait, wasn't that the plot to Hellraiser?

Keep in mind that this movie was released in 1998, and that means that it was written and shot around 1996 or 1997. This is when the Internet was expanding and people were starting to think that going online was "cool". Only a scant few years before this, people thought that the Internet was a magic place where people could mentally merge with computers. Ten years prior to that concept, people thought that any computer was full of tiny people who lived tiny virtual lives while you played video games. With a few minor setbacks, the movie concept of the Internet has progressed toward a more realistic portrayal of what the Internet actually was at that time: a place where people go to look at naked pictures and generally act perverted on dial up. In this regard, Dee Snider is a true genius, showing the American viewing audience what AOL's hourly rate was all about.

Unfortunately that wasn't his intention; but even a blind man hits the baseball once in a while.

Captain Howdy certainly lies about himself on the Internet. He is obviously neither a pirate nor a cowboy.

No Snider's true intention, or at least the one that seemed apparent when watching the film, was to introduce Americans to some sort of BDSM underground culture; a culture that seeks revelation through inflicting pain on themselves (or others) while rejecting the conventions of modern society; a culture that also only seems to exist in Hollywood movies. Seriously, after you've seen a bunch of wire-heads hanging out in a bar in Johnny Mnemonic, a bunch of Vampires hanging out in a slightly better bar in Blade, or a bunch of party-goers hanging out all over New York City in Strange Days; then watching Dee Snider hang from his nipples by meat hooks surrounded by rejects from the Mad Max movies isn't that shocking or original. In fact, the concept of bars that cater to counter culture are so popular in movies that they often destroy the counter culture that they seek to emulate; or at the very least commercialize it. I could name countless other examples, like the rave scene from The Crow, but I think we're getting off topic. The point I'm trying to make is that Hollywood thinks that we party way harder than we do; but only people with money can get a party like the one's depicted in films off the ground. Legally, anyway.

The fact that the counter culture exists was not meant to be the most shocking point of this movie. The throngs of pierced masses all attend these functions of their own accord; but Captain Howdy forgets all about safety words when he abducts the teens and subjects them to unnecessary piercings which may or may not be sterile. The principle terror in this movie comes from Captain Howdy's torture of these (so called, but most likely not) teens; but his motives are not to harm them, but to give them enlightenment and welcome them into the world of fake underground BDSM cults.

Captain Howdy really does hang out with the wrong crowd.

Unfortunately we know this because he spends a great deal of time in the movie spouting out ridiculous self-righteous monologues about becoming enlightened through pain. I guess that's how he justifies shoving a large needle through a guy's "special parts", or hanging Robert Englund by his nipples. Did I mention that Robert Englund was in this movie? Ironically the man once cast as a serial killer/phantom who kills teens in their sleep is now playing a redneck who is angry at a guy who kidnaps teenagers and does horrible things to them. But I digress...

After about twenty minutes of Captain Howdy preaching to his captive audience, all of whom have had their mouths sewn shut so they couldn't drown out his horrible monologues with their screams; it became very apparent that Strangeland is about 65 minute too long. But wait! Detective Mike Gage (played by Kevin Gage: what a stretch) bursts in on Captain Howdy while Howdy is torturing little Genevieve Gage (played by Linda Cardellini). He manages to arrest Howdy, and the movie looks like its about to wrap up.

30 minutes in.

Detective Gage learns about "the Internet".

But wait! In true 1980's music video and movie fashion, Captain Howdy is found not guilty by reason of insanity and remanded to the care of a mental health facility; where, with the help of some happy little pills, Captain Howdy changes from a demented, pierced and tattooed psychopath into a mild mannered nerd complete with sweater vest and glasses. For some unknown reason he decides to move back into his old home, which has now been vandalized by angry townspeople. The townspeople are so angry, in fact, that they try to hang poor reformed Carleton from a tree. This fails, of course, and the repressed Captain Howdy once again emerges from Carleton's psyche to hang more people from their nipples.

Angry townsfolk run over Carleton's happy pills. Can you say symbolism boys and girls?

Without a doubt, this movie is terrible. I do not recommend most people attempt to watch it, as it will cause you undo pain. But, there lies the crux of my dilemma, for I can't help but wonder if the point of this movie was to cause its viewers pain. Are we, the audience, to be enlightened by the pain of having to watch this movie? If so, would that make Dee Snider a genius? Or is he a moron who just got lucky? Well, today Sporefans, you get to decide in our latest Spored to Death Publishing poll.

I must admit, even after enduring the pain of this movie, I don't feel enlightened at all. However, I can't share the pain because I can't find the trailer for this movie. But I can think of a way that people can reach enlightenment without the painful torture of painful torture. Don't believe me? Just listen to this kid:

Enlightenment in a bottle. See you next week. And take that large green chicken with you when you go, it's freakin' me out man.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it's Genius or moronic. But it was definatley Torture Hahaha.

Spored_to_Death said...

But that's my point. The whole movie is about torture and it is torture. You get tortured by just watching it! Nefarious, isn't it?

Mike said...

it made me want to get something pierced

Spored_to_Death said...

Your brain? I know that's what I wanted pierced watching this movie.

Marina said...

UUGGHH OWWW... meat hooks.. nipples... OOWWWW

Waffle Fry said...

haha I saw this movie on fearNET. it was so messed up.