Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Steckler for Detail!

Rat Pfink A Boo Boo  (Craddock Films, 1966)

Okay, yes, the movie poster is in Spanish, apparently the movie had a wider release in Mexico as I could find no American movie poster images! Besides, this poster is pretty awesome!

Before the Camera:

Carolyn Brandt  (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies)
Vin Saxon  (aka Ron Haydock)   (Blood Shack)
Titus Moede  (Feast)
George Caldwell  (The Thrill Killers)
Mike Kannon (Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters)
James Bowie (Targets)
Kogar the Ape (Tracy the Ape from TV's Ghost Busters himself!)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Ray Dennis Steckler

Produced by Bernard Benesch, Lillian Jackson, Jeremy Lepard, George J. Morgan, John Rhinos, L. Steven Snyder, and Ray Dennis Steckler

Written by Ron Haydock and Ray Dennis Steckler (story)

    Well, nobody could ever accuse writer/producer/director Ray Dennis Steckler of not being open to change. According to reports, in the midst of shooting a serious crime drama called Depraved, in which a gang of three no-goodniks make a hobby of stalking women, then attacking them, Steckler came to the realization the movie simply wasn't working. Then Steckler saw the popularity of the then-new Batman TV series on ABC go through the roof, with its over the top, but straight faced adventure and nonsense. This caused a shift in the drama's direction - as the thug trio stalks their current target - Cee Bee Beaumont (Brandt), Steckler suddenly has his two male leads disappear into another room and emerge as...
    ...cheaply costumed heroes Rat Pfink (Saxon) and Boo Boo (Moede)! And from that point forward the movie turns into a fight and chase laden "homage" to Adam West's and Burt Ward's magnum opus. And somehow, the whole movie kinda works, in an ultra low budget throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks sort of way. What saves the change in direction is that Steckler shot everything silently, then added sound in post production. This allowed even the footage from Depraved to be goosed over into slightly silly territory by giving the baddies dialogue more fitting a goofy romp than a serious creepfest. And I'm not sure if lead Saxon was originally playing teen idol Lonnie Lord in Depraved, but I sorta doubt it. It's also amusing that Moede's character in the Depraved part of the movie is a slow witted apartment complex gardener, who then turns into a thunderbolt of fist flying justice when his character is reworked.

Rat Pfink: Remember, Boo Boo, we only have one weakness.

Boo Boo: What's that, Rat Pfink?

Rat Pfink: Bullets!
    Basically this movie is completely indefensible by any normal cinematic standards, but there's such a feeling of people truly having fun making it that comes through the screen that the movie is a hoot. Plus you get the bonuses of some pretty good music, the cameo appearance by Kogar the Ape (and his offscreen "trainer" Bob Burns is no doubt close by too); and the offbeat charm of Carolyn Brandt, the director's wife at the time and someone who probably should be better known these days than she is. It was also refreshing that the movie is mostly family friendly. The opening minutes, showing the baddies' chase and attack of a woman in the city streets at night, using the least altered part of the footage from the Depraved shoot might be a little creepy for small fry, but there's no graphic violence, nudity or profanity in the movie.

Ski masked hero + ape suit + "doiby" = Cinema Gold!
 Director Steckler says they set out making this movie on a budget of $20, and I'm not sure he was exaggerating. In fact, though he tells other stories about the title, it was supposedly originally going to be Rat Pfink and Boo Boo, but a blunder by the title artist left out the N and D, leaving the title as Rat Pfink A Boo Boo. Steckler said in interviews later in life that he planned for that title, but I'm thinking it was a mistake, and he wouldn't or couldn't shell out the bucks to fix it. But regardless of his skills (or lack thereof) as a producer, as a director Steckler had a good eye for composition, and there are some terrific shots sprinkled throughout the movie. So, this is most definitely not a movie for everybody, but if you're interested in seeing one of the two crazy Batman-inspired flicks of the mid 60's (the other being Jerry Warren's The Wild World of Batwoman - now THAT would be a double feature!) it's out there on DVD, ready and waiting!

Let's Get Out Of Here ?

The Line gets thrown around with wild abandon at 11:45, 11:50, and 13:00 as villain Hammer expounds in a maniacal monologue about his unwillingness to stay home for the day.

Eye Candy ?

I said in the review that Carolyn Brandt is a charming presence; she's also pretty darned cute, and has legs that go on for miles. Welcome to the list, Cee Bee!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Rat Pfink A Boo Boo is worth a look for fans of weird cinema. A that's the truth!"

And with that, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

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