Ray Dennis Steckler
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Steckler served briefly during the late 1950s in the Army as a photographer. When he left the service, he spent a year at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens. It was in 1962 that Steckler moved to Los Angeles, to become assistant cameraman on the Timothy Carey film, The World's Greatest Sinner. When the initial director of photography was fired, Steckler became the DP by proxy.
From this point, he then began working with cinematography in the Los Angeles area, garnering a union card and establishing himself at major studios, including Universal Studios. When he was reportedly fired for almost knocking an A-frame onto Alfred Hitchcock, Steckler turned to the then fledgling B-movie circuit. Joining forces with Arch Hall Sr.'s Fairway Pictures, Steckler started as Cinematographer and sometimes actor in the vehicles for Hall's son, Arch Hall Jr.. Steckler made his directorial debut in the Hall vehicle Wild Guitar and co-starred under his on-screen name Cash Flagg.
In 1963 he co-produced his first solo film, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, co-starring his then-wife, Carolyn Brandt. Reportedly filmed for a budget of $38,000, the film was photographed by then newcomers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond, a fact that both men acknowledged as their first big break. Initially distributed on the lower half of a double-bill by Fairway, Steckler took Creatures on the road himself and made it a success under a number of titles, including Diabolical Dr. Voodoo and The Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary. Falling into semi-obscurity past its eccentric title, the film gained notoriety once again in 1997, when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Steckler's next film was his answer to Psycho, entitled The Thrill Killers, released in 1964. The film marked the first effort between Steckler and Ron Haydock, who would be Steckler's creative partner up until the latter's death in the 1970s.
Steckler continued to produce a number of low-budget but fanciful films which soon attained cult status, including Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (a spoof of Batman) and Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (an homage to the East Side Kids films).
Steckler's low-budget often meant working for little to nothing, but his comradeship was often reflected in his productions. In his 1969 film Body Fever, Steckler created a bit part for then destitute fellow director Coleman Francis, who, by coincidence, also achieved belated fame via Mystery Science Theater 3000. Francis passed away not long after the making of the film.
With the decline of drive-in horror films of the nature Steckler was producing in the 1960s, and following his divorce from Brandt, Steckler dabbled with producing porn films during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the late 1980s Steckler opened Mascot Video in Las Vegas and sold it in 1995 to local businessman Dan Wayman. Up until his death in 2009, Steckler continued to sell videos of his works via the web, including six volumes of young actresses and dancers in nude auditions for Steckler's camera. Steckler says these auditions were shot in 1991 for The Hollywood Strangler in Las Vegas (a.k.a. Las Vegas Serial Killer), but that film was finished by 1987.
In addition to Cash Flagg, Steckler was also known by the pseudonyms Sven Christian, Sven Hellstrom, Harry Nixon, Michael J. Rogers, Michel J. Rogers, Wolfgang Schmidt, Cindy Lou Steckler, R.D. Steckler, Ray Steckler, and Cindy Lou Sutters -- the last being his "porn name."
In 2008, Steckler announced production of his new film One More Time, a sequel to The Incredibly Strange Creatures, and launched two MySpace pages and website for casting actresses for his upcoming films.
Steckler completed post-production of Incredibly Strange Creatures: One More Time shortly before his death. It was filmed on location on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Las Vegas on a budget of $3,800 using two Digital 8 cameras. The film is a follow up to the 45 year old film and will be released straight to DVD in mid June 2009.
Filmography (as director)
- Wild Guitar (1962)
- Goof on the Loose (1963) short film
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
- The Thrill Killers (1964)
- The Lemon Grove Kids (1965) segment in film Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters
- Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)
- Sinthia, the Devil's Doll (1968) (as Sven Christian)
- Body Fever (1969)
- The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire (1971) (as Sven Christian)
- The Horny Vampire (1971)
- Blood Shack (1971) (as Wolfgang Schmidt)
- Sexual Satanic Awareness (1972)
- Triple Play (1974)
- Sexorcist Devil (1974) (as Sven Hellstrom)
- Perverted Passion (1974) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Teenage Hustler (1975) (as Harry Nixon)
- Red Heat (1975)
- Teenage Dessert (1976) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Sex Rink (1976) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1979) (as Wolfgang Schmidt)
- Indian Lady (1981) (as Cindy Lou Steckler)
- Black Garters (1981) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Debbie Does Las Vegas (1981) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Weekend Cowgirls (1983) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Plato's Retreat West (1983) (as Cindy Lou Sutters)
- Las Vegas Serial Killer (1986)
- War Cat (1987) (uncredited)
- Summer of Fun (1997)
- One More Time (in prodcution) (2008)