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STRANGELAND

STRANGELAND ($30) or DEE SNIDER'S STRANGELAND is a film that I doubt would have existed had it not been for the fact that Dee Snider made a bankable name for himself as part of the band Twisted Sister. This isn't to say that STRANGELAND is a particularly bad horror movie, it’s just that the film really doesn't differentiate itself from a slew of other similarly themed horror films. As horror films go, STRANGELAND is middle of the road, capitalizing on shock value, instead of displaying genuine inspiration. Obviously, having Snider's name on the marquee is what sold this film to producers. Now I have to admit that as a first time screenwriter, Snider doesn't do too bad a job. STRANGELAND is a horror film geared to a particular audience, and Snider doesn't stray from the basic conventions of the genre. Characters are rather two dimensional, except for the role Snider wrote for himself. If all of the character were as interesting as Snider’s, STRANGELAND would have been a minor cult classic.

The one thing I liked about the film is that it delivers an important message about the dangers of meeting the people in on-line chat rooms. In the majority of cases, new friends found in cyberspace are best kept in the electronic realm. This lesson is learned the hard way in STRANGELAND, when Genevieve Gage (Linda Cardellini) and her best friend decide to go to a private party with Captain Howdy- a guy they meet in an Internet chat room. Genevieve thinks that Captain Howdy is just a typical teenage guy with a cool on-line profile. However, Captain Howdy turns out to be the worst kind of monster- a sadomasochistic nightmare that lives only for the infliction of pain. STRANGELAND isn’t exactly for the squeamish, since Captain Howdy’s workshop contains the kind of surgical steel instruments that would make the Marquis de Sade envious. The plot of STRANGELAND follows Genevieve’s father, police Detective Mike Gage (Kevin Gage) as he tries to locate his missing daughter. Gage and Howdy play a few games of cat and mouse, with the life of Genevieve as the ultimate prize. Dee Snider is very effective as Captain Howdy; easily bringing to life the kind of monster one is likely to meet in the real world. The cast of STRANGELAND also includes Elizabeth Peña, Brett Harrelson and Robert Englund who interjects a bit of life into a lifeless role.

Artisan Entertainment has made STRANGELAND a more enjoyable home viewing experience by creating a high quality DVD. STRANGELAND has been given a top of the line 16:9 enhanced transfer. Detail is excellent, even in the shadows and color reproduction is marvelous. The abundant flesh tones look natural and the highly saturated colors reproduce without chroma noise. Blacks are pure and contrast is smooth. Compression artifacts are well concealed.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack effectively decodes to standard surround. There is good channel separation across the front, while the surrounds provide the requisite ambience. The track relies on a lot of loud rock music, which is reproduced without any unintended distortion. The interactive menus are straightforward, providing the requisite scene selection feature, plus access to the extras. An audio commentary featuring Dee Snider is the chief supplement. Snider has a couple of interesting things to say, plus he’s an entertaining and funny guy. Other extras include production notes, cast biographies, a promotion for the film’s heavy-duty rock soundtrack, and a number music videos.

 
STRANGELAND 



ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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