Dee Snider’s Strangeland – Proto
The mid to late 90’s brought us a lot of trends; goth wear, Jnco jeans, rave gear, industrial music, so many trends to name, but there was also the rise of the tattoo and piercing sub-culture. It really wasn’t until the end of the 90s where tattoos and extreme piercing really started to become socially acceptable. So it made sense for genre films, namely horror, to take on genre trends, and nothing screams genre trends like “Dee Snider’s Strangeland,” a movie that was about about six years early for the “torture porn” genre, and you might even call it the “proto torture porn film.”
“Strangeland” is the tale of piercing, tattooing, industrial music, the internet, and catfishing. Captain Howdy, played by Snider himself, is a sadistic kidnapper who lures people from the internet to his house of horrors that includes extreme piercing and other forms of torture. After kidnapping a cop’s daughter, Howdy is arrested and sent sent away for rehabilitation.
Years later it is deemed that Captain Howdy, or as we know him now as Carlton Hendricks, has been cleared to re-enter society, but of course an angry mob led by Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) doesn’t like it one bit leading to a lynching and the re-birth of Captain Howdy, now crazier than ever.
So, this film isn’t all that great, it’s pretty mundane and there isn’t much of a twist and it owes a lot of it’s story to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but it does have some pretty fun makeup effects and Snider looks like he is having a lot of fun being a creep. One of the things that I find the most amusing, but also the most unnecessary is the scene where we all find out, as an audience, how the internet and chat rooms work. Of course, at the time, this was revolutionary since the internet was brand new, but it automatically renders this film pretty static in it’s technology.
One of the best parts of this film, especially if you’re a metal-head, is the soundtrack, which Snider, who is a bit of a metal god, handpicked himself, including a still unknown System of a Down with one of the better songs on the soundtrack, “Marmalade.”
Should one see “Strangeland?” Sure, why not, it’s not the best and it’s not the worst in late 90s horror and it’s an interesting little time capsule, especially if you want a tutorial on chat rooms.
No need to “hang around” check out these other goodies from 1998:
Bride of Chucky
The Dentist 2