Strangeland | Chicago Reader

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Rated R · 85 minutes

In this abduction-and-torture thriller (1998), several monologues advocating body modification are delivered by the multiply pierced Captain Howdy (Twisted Sister's Dee Snider), who lures teenagers from Internet chat rooms to his suburban home so he can bring about their spiritual enlightenment through involuntary piercing. The captain's philosophy is innocently echoed by a winch operator who pulls a car from a lake in search of victims of Howdy's crusade while lecturing curious, judgemental detectives on the traditions of piercing and tatooing. An attempt to portray the vicious Howdy as sympathetically as the hero, a methodical detective whose daughter has gone missing, could have made this story nervy. But neither director John Pieplow nor writer Snider seems able to distinguish between cliche and convention, camp and shock value. After Howdy is apprehended, a posse led by Robert Englund vows revenge on behalf of the community—an unsuccessful attempt to twist the disturbingly stodgy plot.

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