Director: Dee Snider

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

"Captain Howdy" was one of Regan's imaginary friends in The Exorcist (1973) who turns out to be demonic. Captain Howdy is also the name of the psychopath in the 1998 vanity-film Strangeland written, produced, & starring Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.

Snider envisioned the most evil & radical netstalker killer of teenage girls to be a schizophrenic who's idea of being Baaaaaad involves buying some mass-produced s/m trinkets & getting tattoos that wash off.

The creepiest things about Snider's performance was his delusion that he could act & the script's narcissistic unwillingness to acknowledge that Captain Howdy as played by Snider is İfirst & foremost an ugly-ass geezer. If he'd acknowledged himself as an old fart first & foremost, then the script would've also had to have acknolwedged that geezers feeling up teenagers doesn't need psychosis to be revolting.

Some of the make-up FX for the victims were effectively horrific & if the Resident Sadist hadn't been such a dullard, the philosophy of piercing might have come across less as a cheezy advertisement for the piercing industry. But if the ultimate evil had actually been body-altered & had better than wash-off tattoos & s/m geegaws you can buy off the rack at Leatherfags, Inc., I might've been able to go along with the imperfect script & the bad casting of himself.

The fake tattoos were just the most obvious symbol of Snider's failure to grasp malice & madness İas a little bit more than an aging heavy metal act. His idea of madness lacked sufficient conviction to function even as trash cinema. İAs he stands, Captain Howdy is just a mentally ill old fart who went off his meds, & being additionally a nutsack is insufficient to make the dirty-old-man thing cinematic.

Ironicly, Snider was much more convincing as the cowardly old dweeb once he did get his meds back on schedule. But this element of the film showing the "cured" killer as pitiful comes off as a dimestore imitation of Clockwork Orange (1971), an imitation which utterly failed even as satire, probably because Snider made the mistake of thinking he was on to something.

Twisted Sister fans certainly have liked it & praised it & don't care that Captain Howdy was such a phony. The soundtrack is either good or bad depending on if you like badly dated heavy metal. To me the retro tunes would've been appropriate only for a period film, but for 1998 it only showed that Snider has outlived his time & can't come up with a new act.

It took Snider fifteen years to get the film made -- maybe it wouldn't seem so behind-the-times if he could've made it in 1983 when he first wanted to. But sometimes getting told "No!" for more than a decade should not be one's cue to sell the farm to bankroll everything personally.

Any random Marilyn Manson music video is ten thousand times scarier, besides sounding so much better & having true evil beauty. If Snider hadn't bankrolled this project strictly out of vanity, but instead actually cared about his script becoming a first-rate exploitation flick, he'd've gotten Manson to star, & not put his own ugly mug & crappy music all over it. Manson might even have been able to fix the script, which has huge holes in it, & clunky transitions.

Someone should at least have told Snider that wash-off tattoos meant that Captain Howdy would have to be renamed Wussy Geezer Psycho. But the problem with bankrolling such a vanity of vanities is that anyone willing to take his money was just going to suck his shlong like any İother bored professional prostitute, without bothering to mention how little it is.

copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl

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