Friday, January 9, 2009

R.I.P. Ray Dennis Steckler

“Uncle” Samuel Wilson at Mondo 70: A Wild World of Cinema reports that low-budget schlockmeister Ray Dennis Steckler—the auteur behind such works of bad cinematic art that include The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964) and Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966) has departed to the Big Editing Room in the Sky at the age of 70.

I apologize for any unintentional flippancy in this obit—it’s probably because of Steckler’s oeuvre, the only film I’ve actually been able to sit through is Creatures…and even then I was scratching my head trying to figure out how Leonard Maltin managed to give this film two-and-a-half stars in his Movie & Video Guide. (Well, okay…I’ve also seen Wild Guitar [1962]—which would probably be my pick as his best…since it was his feature-film debut.) But if ineptitude were gold, Steckler would be the King Midas of filmmakers. Edward D. Wood, Jr. may have made better films (not that that’s saying much) but Steckler’s career was every bit as important. As was Cash Flagg’s. And Sven Christian’s. And Cindy Lou Sutters’. (Yes, these and many, many more were all aliases used by Steckler when directing, producing, writing…and acting. Rumor has it that as Cash Flagg, Steckler was actually the winner of 1965 Best Actor Oscar for Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters until the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences initiated a conspiracy robbing him of his statuette. Okay, I may have made that last part up…but can you prove it didn’t happen?)

R.I.P. Ray. You showed aspiring filmmakers that such a dream was never out of their grasp and you will be missed.

(Chapeau doff not only to Unca Sam but to Popcorn and Sticky Floors and the Ray Dennis Steckler website.)

1 comment:

Flickhead said...

Bombs away!

Recently I tried watching Rat Pfink for the first time ever (did TCM show it? I forget...). I'd known about the film since the mid-60s when Castle of Frankenstein magazine ran photos of Rat Pfink and BooBoo on a "promotional tour" -- the two of them were hanging out in costume at a schoolyard playing to a crowd of about six kindergarteners. I made it through twenty minutes of that dreadful movie before I got up and ran screaming from the room. My wife is still shaking from that hellish wail.

Mixed-Up Zombies I DID make it through, but mostly because of Carolyn Brandt's odd beauty.

I'm sure some will miss Mr. Steckler.