Friday, October 07, 2005

Dee Snider's Strangeland


Dir: John Pieplow (Jurassic Women)

Is it wrong to laugh at a movie about torture? I pose that philosophical question to my faithful reader.

The title ought to tell you everything you need to know about the film. Twisted Sister's own decides to turn his hand to producing, acting and screenwriting. He plays Captain Howdy, a serial killer who lures his teenage prey in through internet chatrooms (see, the story is different!). It is, of course, laughable in innumerbale ways. A personal favorite is the complete ignorance of basic police procedure on the part of the homicide detectives. It's 1998, and they do not know what a chat room is. One drop is a sea of complete incompetence at even the basics of narrative or character development.

The film is also morally suspect. Snider has his killer engage in long ruminations about the nature of body modification and sadism. He believes that piercing, tatooing, and the like is a return to primitivism, a spiritual rejection of modern society through pain and scarring. OK, fair enough. But the killer is captured halfway though the movie and rehabilitated through therapy. After four years the killer is released (yes, Snider envisions a criminal justice system that releases insane serial torturers after four years treatment). But society rejects his return and a drunken Robert Englund lynches the seemingly changed man. It starts to rain (bear with me folks) so the angry drunken mob leaves Dee swinging from a branch, only mostly dead. Society's prejudice reincarnates Captain Howdy through the experience of transcendental pain, who goes on another series of kidnappings and tortures. Oh, I get it, society cannot accept that the guy has changed, so it perpetuates the violence that created him in the first place. Oh, I get it, society made him do it! When the crowd chants that God will punish him in hell, that's a product of the same mindset as ritual torture. Thanks for the consciousness raising Dee! The Marilyn Manson thing has already been done.

Some reviews I read critiqued the movie for gratuitous violence, but that is stock politically correct criticism. The torture scenes are incredible tame, since the are clearly the only reason the movie was made. There is more gore in a Tarantino film than this, so even the pornographic appeal of the film is absent.

In short, there is nothing redeemable in the movie except accidentally. I laughed out loud often.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 10/10/2005 01:48:00 AM that...

This seems like a natural respite while watching Academy Award winning foreign films.

And to think that all this time I believed Rob Zombie to be the first rocker to make a foray into filmmaking.