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Strangeland (1998)

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Plot Summary:
"A schizophrenic sadist by the name of Captain Howdy lures teens through the internet into his painful traps. A detective starts pursuing him after he captures his daughter. Eventually they catch up with him and send him to a mental hospital. But upon his release, the townspeople don't accept the new, peaceful former Captain Howdy, and attack him. Howdy goes nuts again and in revenge starts everything all over, only worse. Can the detective stop him?"

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 27 February 2004 My Rating: out of 5


I had been searching for a copy of this film since it's release in 1998, but to no avail. The film has so far never seen release here in the UK (although i'm still convinced it had a limited theatrical release here as it did in the states).

Finally, last week I got my hands on a copy and whilst I thought it was quite good, I was a little bit let down.

The story centres on Carlton Hendricks A.K.A Captain Howdy, a sadist obsessed with body 'art' also known as piercing, tattooing, flesh hangings and various other forms of torture.

Teen Genevieve Gage and her friend Tiana,like most young girls, like to meet people on the internet. One night the girls accept a deadly invitation from Captain Howdy and end up prisoner in his home.

Genevieve's father however, is a detective (that's lucky) so he sets out to find the girls and uncovers a dark world of sado masochism.

The story is quite good and it is important to have a horror movie that deals with the dangers of meeting people on line. After all, we already have films that warn of the dangers of every possible activity that teenagers partake in...why not the internet?

Anyway, a cat and mouse chase begins and we are subjected to a lot of wince inducing set pieces, one of which, 'The Ampallang' will have me in pain at the mere mention of it forever more!!

Nice to see good female actresses here, Elizabeth Pena, Linda Cardellini (pre- Scooby Doo) and Amy Smart in a small role just before she was noticed in 'Varsity Blues'.

The main problems I had with the film were with the male characters and cast members. I didn't take to Kevin Gage, although I can't quite put my finger on why, similarly, his partner annoyed me. Oh how I wish he'd have had his mouth sewn shut!! And Robert Englund made me laugh here, but I'm unsure if he was supposed to.

The only male character I liked in the script was the villain, and in a film that has not yet established it's villain, I felt that this was very strange. No one was rooting for Freddy and Jason until they were icons of the genre.

A few jumps and some freaky bits provide entertainment, but I feel the male characters needed some more work in the script department.

The film looked surprisingly more low budget than I was expecting, but a wonderful performance from Dee Snider and a kick ass soundtrack make this a good watch and a great attempt at bringing something new to the genre. I for one am looking forward to seeing how the story progresses in the sequel, should it finally come to fruition.

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