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Ray Dennis Steckler (1938 – 2009)
Categories: Good Stuff

Ray Dennis Steckler, director of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies !!? (1964) passed away in Las Vegas this month at the age of 70.

Steckler was a man of many talents (producing, directing, acting) and of many noms de cinema: in addition to works he directed under his own name, he sometimes credited his direction to pseudonyms such as Cindy Lou Sutters (the name he used when directing T&A movies), Wolfgang Schmidt, or (during the ‘seventies) Harry Nixon. As the leading man in The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? and his best work, THE THRILL KILLERS, he used the name Cash Flagg.

Steckler’s directing debut was lensing the Arch Hall, Jr. rock ‘n’ roll saga, WILD GUITAR, a delicious tale of a cute and talented punkin’ of a guy who makes it in L.A. only to be ripped off by those who made him a star. But for the majority of his career, miniscule-budget horror was his metier. Unlike Ed Wood, whose lack of funds created a palpable financial tension on the screen, Steckler’s no-money works embodied a loosening up and just-for-kicks ambience that was emblematic of Youth and the 1960s.

The openness of Steckler’s work is not only visible on-screen but is carved in film history, as he gave two Hungarian refugees early breaks in filmmaking: legendary cinematographers László Kovács (EASY RIDER)and Vilmos Zsigmond (CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, McCABE AND MRS. MILLER) worked on Steckler’s early movies.

The UK documentary series THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILM SHOW produced a segment on Ray Dennis Steckler. It can be seen on YouTube here.

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