Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cash Flagg (a.k.a. Ray Dennis Steckler), Carolyn Brandt, Toni Camel, Erina Enyo, Atlas King, Brett O'Hara, Gene Pollock
Written by: E.M. Kevke, Gene Pollock, Robert Silliphant
Directed by: Ray Dennis Steckler
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 80
Date: 03/01/1964

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1963)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Carny Blarney

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Low-budget auteur Ray Dennis Steckler gets his due on three new DVDs from Media Blasters, each featuring commentary tracks by the inestimable, all-knowing Joe Bob Briggs. At the top of the heap is unquestionably Steckler's piece-de-resistance, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, presented here in its official "41st Anniversary Edition."

The film, which has little to do with incredibly strange creatures or mixed-up zombies, takes place at a carnival, where a fortune-teller throws acid in people's faces and turns them into monsters. Our hero, played by Cash Flagg (a.k.a. Ray Dennis Steckler), becomes such a victim himself, much to the chagrin of his best friend and girlfriend. Sporadically throughout the 80 minutes of solid action, Steckler inserts bizarre, low-energy musical numbers of varying rationality.

It's an incredibly bad movie made worse by the many slow patches and the muffled sound, but the film's lovely visuals, shot by no less than Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and Laszlo Kovacs (Easy Rider), shine through (even if Media Blasters didn't have the time or the money to remove print scratches and other impurities). And it's an absolute must-see from the annals of legendary bad movies.

Now it's worth buying because of yet another extraordinary Joe Bob commentary track, each second packed with either belly laughs or obscure nuggets of information. He's like a one-man "MST3K," but funnier and smarter. For what it's worth, Steckler himself provides a second commentary track (he's alive and well and running a video store in Las Vegas). The disc also includes interviews with Steckler and co-star Carolyn Brandt (Steckler's significant other), and the original theatrical trailer.

Also be on the lookout for two more Steckler "classics," Blood Shack (1971)and The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1980).

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