INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES... (1964)

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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

ChiO: that says precisely what it is! My anticipation that surrounds watching this (again) tonight--not even on a crappy for-real VHS tape--but on a specifically selected night and time picked by some TV station is a wonderful thing to ponder. Steckler sure enough belongs to a very select club of enigmas, people that I, for one, couldn't live (as well) without. (Has anyone else here seen his incredible LEMON GROVE KIDS films from the 60s: spot-on post-modern salutes to the formerly inimitable Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey; beyond merely hilarious.) Maybe the Oasis' own Bill Vallo put it best: "I'm staying up late on Friday." That's right!
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Post by klondike »

Dewey1960 wrote: The creators of that dreaded, presumptuous MS3TK should all be forced to live together on an island and watch Anthony Hopkins movies for eternity.
So, Maestro D, what if we got Tony Hopkins to co-host a couple episodes of MST3K . . would that make you a convert?!
(Come on, be reasonable now!)
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Er, I actually like some Anthony Hopkins films (no Hannibal crap though).

MST3K is a unique oddity and while I enjoy it, most of what I like are the entirely forgettable works (Pumaman anyone?). However, there are some cult classics that MST has satirized which are great films that speak well enough on their own. They should not be fatedly reduced to humor, losing all their nuances for a laugh. It also can give a bad impression to people who come to the film for the first time, but as Jon and others have stated many people were introduced to B and cult films via this show who would have never thought about watching these movies before. I remember talking with my wife about watching B and cult films before MST was around, and she clearly did not understand me (Why would you watch this cheap film when you could watch a "good" film?). MST gave us a reference point where she could understand why I would watch such things and we have since watched many of these types of films together.

I have not seen either film playing tonight and look forward to doing so. My thanks to Mr. D. and ChiO (who had an earlier thread) to alerting us to these oddities. I also hope w/the MST contraversy more of us will watch and report back on what we see.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

what if we got Tony Hopkins to co-host a couple episodes of MST3K . . would that make you a convert?!

Great Caesar's Ghost! I sure hope I've been good in this lifetime cuz if not that is for certain what Satan has in store for me on Eternity's tapeloop!
Impossible to cozy up to the concept of the show: stop it on sight!
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1001 Weirdest Scenes Ever!!

Post by benwhowell »

Another one of my faves. Who wouldn't love "the first monster musical" with cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond!
I also love "The Thrill Killers" with Liz Renay.
Steckler and Liz live in Las Vegas. Liz used to appear in the Gay Pride Parade.
Steckler used to have a video rental store. Of course, all his movies and movie-related merchandise were avaiable to purchase. He also had the complete collection of Russ Meyer...at that time, most of Meyer's films were only available through his mail order outfit.
Steckler was always working on some direct-to-video movie. He would post "casting calls" in the local free press.
He's even listed in the telephone book!
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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

I hope that those with stamina enjoyed INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES (and, bye-the-bye, it looked no different on TCM than on my ratty video cassette). But RAT PFINK A BOO BOO -- my first experience and it far surpassed my high expectations. Thank you, Ray Dennis and TCM.

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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Just back from the Record Party; what a blast!! Watched RAT FINK last night (came on about 12:30 out here) for the first time in a long time and completely forgot how great it is. BenHowell is right on about THE THRILL KILLERS, probably Steckler's best. Perfect double bill item for Arch Hall Jr and THE SADIST.
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Post by Dawtrina »

Sore subject for me, unfortunately.

I'm a regular at a local budget cinema that hosts weekly exploitation nights courtesy of a local Kiwi called Midnite Movie Mamacita. I raced home on Friday night from a Lucio Fulci double bill (Zombie and City of the Living Dead), in which both films were subtitled in Dutch and the first was missing almost all its sound turning it into a bizarre almost silent feature.

I'd set both the Ray Dennis Steckler films to record and have been waiting for them for months. I've never seen either though I've heard plenty about both, and they became even more important because I discovered between the Fulci films that Ray Dennis Steckler will be here in person on 3 Apr to host a double bill of Rat Pfink a Boo Boo and Blood Shack, and do all the other things that guests do.

And I discovered that Cox had changed the channel number for TCM but that change doesn't apply to scheduled DVR recordings. So, Incredibly Strange Creatures recorded an hour and a half of the Cox guide. Luckily I discovered this before heading to bed so could reset Rat Pfink and fire off a nastygram to Cox Customer Support. I haven't had a reply yet.

So once again I'll be heading to the torrent world to try and find Incredibly Strange Creatures over the next few weeks. Then hopefully Steckler will be selling DVD copies himself on 3 Apr so I can pick one up from him.
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

I liked Incredibly Strange Creatures, although I felt the dance numbers slowed the film down considerably (there are about 5-6 numbers in that movie?). Although this print was horrible, you could see evidence of really good ideas and some interesting handheld camera work.

Rat Fink I'm kinda up in the air on. Much of the film I thought was good, but I felt the chase and fight scenes were way too long. Again some very interesting ideas (loved the guy with the hammer), and shots.


All in all I liked what I saw, but I felt that he either needed to make shorter films or expand his plots a bit more. I'll give it a few months and tackle 'em both again. 8)
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Post by Dawtrina »

Dewey1960 wrote:Jon, I think you can definitely deal with this. The creators of that dreaded, presumptuous MS3TK should all be forced to live together on an island and watch Anthony Hopkins movies for eternity. That hideous program has done more to discourage people from enjoying the pure delirium of great primitive entertainment than Will Hays and Jack Valenti combined.
MST3K is definitely something that polarises opinion. People love it. People hate it. Not many people fit in between. I love it, though I wish they'd just play the films and forget about all the introductory 'comedy'. You hate it. Shrug, just perspectives.

But they have done a huge amount for cult film and I don't think that can be ignored. They've obviously introduced it to many new viewers, but more importantly to me they also include the original versions of the films they overdub on their DVD box sets. I can choose between watching The Creeping Terror with Joel and the robots or in its original 'glory'. Who else would release this for me to see?
Ollie
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Post by Ollie »

Unfortunately, MST is less frequently providng "the original" version in their DVDs, which is a shame. I really love having the Original AND their overdub.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

I think people are still (inadvertently) perceiving Steckler's films (most famously THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES, no doubt because of its notoriously wonderful title) as painfully inept and unworthy of any meaningful discussion.
Steckler is nothing if not consistent and true to his own vision, one that has been served up for over forty years in one impossibly threadbare production after another while being somehow elevated to seemingly impossible cult status in various corners of the planet. It doesn't happen every day (thankfully) that filmmakers like Steckler become venerated even if only in small but loyal circles.
Steckler created his relatively vast array of films based on two broad principles: 1) scare people in disturbing ways and 2) do it as stupidly as possible. Steckler's amusingly caustic take on the world is undercut by his bafflement and ultimate victimization at the hands of it. As an actor, billed as "Cash Flagg" he is a revelation: repugnant and oblivious, he stands about as much a chance of survival in the carnival world of the unknown as Stan Carlisle did in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. And doesn't INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES have a wonderful, nightmare glow about it; not dreamlike, nightmare like. The film came out around the same time as Herk Harvey's CARNIVAL OF SOULS and I think it has a lot in common with it. It's cruder, much cruder, than CARNIVAL but it shares much of that distinctive otherworldly quality that accidentally sets it apart from films set in more easily recognizable worlds. There are even embedded suggestions which were absorbed and digested by George Romero six years later in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
It's easy to over-praise a film like INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES; in the face of all the derision it receives, it seems only fair. But this highly personal masterwork--made by someone whose life's mission was to express this particular vision--and however unintentional, is a towering poke in the eye to respectable and conventional Hollywood dross. Steckler was an ambitious and self-absorbed kook, doomed to succeed at what he did best. He remains an American original.
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Post by SSO Admins »

Ollie wrote:Unfortunately, MST is less frequently providng "the original" version in their DVDs, which is a shame. I really love having the Original AND their overdub.
In truth that's because they are a victim of their own success -- they actually created a market for the films, so that the rights holders can make money by releasing the unaltered version on DVD regardless. There are exceptions. Sandy Frank reportedly hates them and refuses to sell the DVD rights for any of the Japanese monster films that he bought, overdubbed and released in the US in the 1960s.

In fact, someone failed to clear "Godzilla vs. Gamera" which was released on Vol. 10 of the Rhino collections. They had to recall it after the fact, so only a few lucky fans (including me) got this set. Later it was rereleased as Vol. 10.2 with "The Giant Gila Monster" replacing GvsG.

They offered the DVD of Gila briefly through the Rhino site as a standalone. That DVD featured an MST3k reunion with Joel, Dr. Forrester/Crow and TV's Frank all from the original, and I think that J. Elvis Weinstein did Tom Servo (he was the voice of Tom during Season One). They showed how to upgrade your existing set from 10.0 to 10.2 by removing the original DVD and replacing it with the new one.
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Hey Dewey, I can definitely see some links with COS--mainly in the imagery and camera movement.

I also thought his use of color was very unique. Where many people in the 60's would use muted blues and greens, his film had a lot of red and yellow layering. I would love to see a restored print of this as everything was grainy and the voices sounded so distorted in some sections, it was difficult to make out what they were saying.

While COS is definitely a more poetic film , Incredibly Strange has some of the same nightmarish quality. Definitely one for further exploration.
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