Ray Dennis Steckler, director of such low budget exploitation fare as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Decided To Stop Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies, died this past Wedsnesday, January 7,in Las Vegas. He was 70.
After a stint in the Army serving as a photographer and a year working at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, Steckler moved to Los Angeles. Taking a job as the assistant cameraman on the Timothy Carey film, The World’s Greatest Sinner, and was promoted to director of photography when the Carey fired the original one. Following shooting a few films at Universal, Steckler moved over to the low budget indie production house Fairway Picture. At Fairway, he quickly was assigneddirectorial duties starting with Wild Guitar. The film aslo was another first for Steckler as it marked the first time he would act in one of his own features under the name Cash Flagg.
In 1963, Steckler added the title co-producer to his resume with The Incredibly Strange Creatures. Produced on a budget of $38,000, the film would provide t he first break for two cinematographers- Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond. At first distributed by Fairway on the bottom half of a double bill, Steckler also toured the film himself under a variety of names for further profit. Steckler would also direct such movies as Goof On The Loose (1964), The Lemon Grove Kids Meet The Monsters (1965) and the Batman parody Rat Pfink A Boo Boo (1966).
With the decline of demand for the type of cheapie drive-in fare that he was creating, Steckler moved into producing and directing campy, softcore porno films with titles like Sexoricist Devil and The Horny Vampire under a variety of pseudonyms in the 1970s.
Last year Steckler announced a sequel to The Incredibly Strange Creatures entitled One More Time. He reportedly finished the film shortly before his death. It is scheduled for a direct to DVD release in June.