Ray Dennis Steckler, King of the No-Budget indies, dead at 70.
Steckler who began his career as a grip in the Hollywood was a pioneer of the indie scene – writing, producing, directing and sometime starring under the pseudonym Cash Flagg (among others).
His “so-bad-it’s good” camp classic Rat Pfink A Boo-Boo a super-hero action comedy spoofed the 1966 Batmania craze despite being initially shot as a crime drama. When Ray realized it was unintentionally funny, he had the two leads abruptly change into thread bare heroes. It was supposed to be titled Rat Pfink AND Boo-Boo but according to legend someone at the lab “screwed up”.
Steckler is also known for the “first monster movie musical” The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies which starred his then-wife the gorgeous Carolyn Brandt. The Thrill Killers, a precursor of the 1980s slasher films, was re-released several times. Wild Guitar starring Arch Hall, Jr. was a riveting expose of the music rackets.
Steckler who self-distributed his films to drive-ins gave future Academy Award winning cinematographers Lazlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond their first gigs on Creatures, giving the no-budgeter a wild hallucinogenic feel rarely seen in pre-Easy Rider cinema.
Steckler had been hospitalized in LA before being released and returning home to Las Vegas where he passed in his sleep January 7.
Most memorable dialog exchange:
“Remember, Boo Boo, we only have one weakness.”
“What’s that, Rat Pfink?”