On close examination, it appears that the upcoming horror flick "StrangeLand" has
Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider's fingerprints all over it.
That's not surprising, given that the former glam-metal rocker wrote, co-produced and
starred in the film, which opens Oct. 2, and which includes music by the recently
re-formed Sister, as well as top metal bands Megadeth, Marilyn Manson and Anthrax.
Snider also served as executive producer of the soundtrack, from which he has recruited
bands such as Soulfly, Snot, dayinthelife and Static X for an unusual fall tour organized
and designed specifically to promote the film. What's more, Snider himself will serve as
the tour's emcee.
"I feel like Jimmy Stewart, 'It's A Wonderful Life' ... I play a schizophrenic sexual sadist,
so it's not much of a stretch," said Snider, 43, who formed Twisted Sister in 1973, long
before their mid-'80s heyday. "The toughest part is when I'm reformed in the middle of
the film. I'm like Mr. Rogers, wearing a cardigan and Dockers ... I'm the bad guy and I'm a
damn good bad guy," Snider said.
The idea for Snider's character, Captain Howdy, first began formulating in his mind after
the birth of his son Jesse Blaze Snider in 1982. "When my son was born, I suddenly
became aware of parental concerns," Snider said. "Some crime happened where some
piece of crap had done some nasty things to kids. I remember being incensed [and]
wrote two songs, 'Captain Howdy' and 'Street Justice.' "
Those songs became part of Twisted Sister's 1984 album, Stay Hungry, which
went on to sell more than 2 million copies. By the time Twisted Sister disbanded in 1987,
the group had earned a name for itself in the glam-metal world with hits -- such as "I
Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" -- that had become staples of rock radio.
The idea behind "Captain Howdy" and "Street Justice" stuck with Snider. And, after a
couple of failed attempts at writing screenplays, the "StrangeLand" script -- in which
Captain Howdy preys on victims he meets over the Internet -- began to take shape.
With a cast in place that included actor Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of the cult
horror-flick "Nightmare on Elm Street"), Snider began putting together the soundtrack
with the help of his by-then-teen-age son.
"I tried to put together an album that would be like a sampler of the best of today's hard,
heavy bands," Snider said. "My oldest son, who's 16, he and I are fans of the same
music. He's the music consultant on the film. I'd get piles of CDs and I'm doing
everything on it, writing, producing, so I needed help. I would literally dump the shit on
his bed and say, 'Listen to this stuff, tell me what's good and what's bad.' And he'd give
me scrawled notes: 'This is good,' 'This sucks,' 'Like this,' 'Check track one,' 'Check track
Artists that made the cut include shock-rockers Marilyn Manson and heavy-metal outfits
Anthrax, Megadeth, Pantera, Nashville Pussy and Soulfly, as well as rock-rapper Kid
The original quintet that made up Twisted Sister even reunited to record their first new
material in more than 11 years, including "Heroes Are Hard To Find," which Snider
described as "an anthem, an '80s fist-in-the-air, big-power-chords-and-catchy-hooks
Singer George Reynolds of hardcore rockers dayinthelife -- who listened to Twisted
Sister as a kid -- said that his New York-based five-piece leaped at the chance to update
Sister's "Street Justice."
"They gave it to us and we were like, 'Yeah, we can work with this.' It's fun taking
someone's song and totally rearranging it," Reynolds said. "We did it at like half-time and
changed the riffs around so you couldn't possibly recognize it, except for the lyrics."
Snider did some leaping of his own, in his case at the chance to return to the stage in a
new role as the emcee for the upcoming tour.
"I'm going to be the master disaster emcee for six weeks of shows," Snider said.
"Fourteen years ago, when Twisted Sister were kings of the world, these rock 'n' roll fans
were 7, 8, 9, watching Dee Snider corrupting their minds. And now the audiences are 18,
19, 20 and remember me. Dee's back and I'm having a f---ing great time."
StrangeLand Tour Dates:
Sept. 8; West Hollywood, Calif., Key Club
Sept. 22; Minneapolis, Minn., Ground Zero
Sept. 24; St. Louis, Mo., Mississippi Nights
Sept. 25; Chicago, Ill., Vic Theatre
Sept. 26; Detroit, Mich., State Theatre
Sept. 27; To Be Announced
Sept. 28; Cleveland, Ohio, Odeon Concert Club
Sept. 29; Scranton, Pa., Tink's
Sept. 30; Baltimore, Md., To Be Announced
Oct. 1; Norwalk, Conn., Globe Theatre
Oct. 2; Portland, Maine, State Theatre
Oct. 3; Providence, R.I., Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
Oct. 4; Hartford, Conn., Webster Theatre
Oct. 9; Philadelphia, Pa., Trocadero