Here's to Ray Dennis Steckler
, the independent filmmaker who wrote, starred (as Cash Flagg) and directed
influential films including The Thrill Killers
, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo
, and his masterpice The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
. A visionary artist whose influnce is clearly seen in contemporary cinema, Steckler was prolific (producing movies from 1963 until last year), economical (his films were self-produced, shot on 16mm film and later Hi-8 video), and brilliant (as clearly evidenced in this dance sequence from Creatures, "The First Monster Musical"
). It hasn't been widely reported yet, but fans are mourning his passing. He died in his sleep yesterday, January 7th, aged 70.
I hesitated to post about a death without an obituary to link to (especially since I posted another obituary 24 hours ago), but Ray Dennis Steckler was an important creative influence in my life. I saw Rat Pfink a Boo Boo
as a film student, but not at school; my professors were only interested in "serious" cinema like Casablanca
and similar crap. It was a revelation. I saw clear artistic vision and high production values in spite of miniscule budgets and volunteer crews.
My first e-commerce purchase on the World Wide Web, probably in 1996 and with much trepidation, was a VHS copy of Rat Pfink a Boo Boo
from Sinister Cinema
. I still keep a VCR hooked up so that I can watch it.
On our second date, I took my future wife to a screening of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
at the old UC Theater in Berkeley, CA. They screened it in Terrorama
-- costumed actors (actually the cast for that evening's showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
) "terrorized" the audience by shrieking and running through the aisles. It made an impression on her.
I highly recommend Steckler's films to anyone with an eye for cinema. I mourn his passing.
Disclaimer: The YouTube link to the Creatures
dance sequence is a self-reference. I posted that clip a few years ago.