Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ray Dennis Steckler Dead at 70

Independent filmmaker Ray Dennis Steckler, who is known for such cult classic titles as Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966), Wild Guitar (1962), The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964) and The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid-Row Slasher (1979), passed away Wednesday, January 7th, in Las Vegas at the age of 70.

Bad Movie Night feature: Treasure of the Four Crowns

On January 15, My Bloody Valentine 3-D will be premiering in theaters across the country. This is a remake of the original 1981 film of the same name, which was released back in the days before NC17, when horror films were threatened with the financially disastrous "X" rating for violent content. The original actually had to cut nine minutes to receive an "R" rating.

It is only fitting that My Bloody Valentine's return to the big screen be released in wondrous three-dimensional vision. When it was released in '81, not only did the plot closely resemble the formula introduced by Friday the 13th, but the events that take place in the film actually occur on the same date. MBV did not do well, and the following year Jason came back with Friday the 13th Part 3 - in 3-D. History might be ready to repeat itself once again, though, as a remake of the original Friday the 13th is due out next month.

Not to be outdone, this weekend's Bad Movie Night will be featuring a 3-D film of it's own, the stupendously horrendous Treasure of the Four Crowns!

It is hard to make the claim that any 3-D film is the worst one ever made. The competition for that honor is pretty steep indeed. Besides the previously mentioned Friday the 13th sequel, other contenders include Jaws 3 in 3-D, Amityville 3-D, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. That's only a few of the modern 3-D resurgence titles, and already the race is too close to call. However, it can safely be said the Treasures would easily make a top five list.

Advertised as being filmed entirely in "WONDER-VISION" (apparently a fancy name for the Polarization 3-D process) and "SUPER-VISION" (one "Wonders" if this film would have benifitted from more competent adult "Supervision"), Treasure of the Four Crowns features the last screen performance of Tony Antony, probably the most ludicrous action star of the eighties. Tony's role as the Indiana Jones inspired treasure hunter J.T. Striker is enhanced by his ability to convey four virtually realistic expressions; stoic, amused, startled, and just-violated-with-a-cattleprod. In the film, he assembles a motley crew of washed-up treasure-hunting rejects (a startlingly effective plot device repeated throughout the eighties, known by many as the "A-Team Effect") in order to rescue two of the mystical gems of the Four Crowns (of which only three are mentioned) from the clutches of the evil cult leader Brother Jonas, who presumedly bears no relation to The Jonas Brothers.

J.T. Striker's journey is wrought with the kind of in-your-face peril that only 3-D moves dare to explore. Not only do must he and his redubbed motley crew dodge snakes, swords, steel rods and columns of fire; they also find themselves surrounded by barking dogs, vicious turkey-vultures, uncoiling ropes, seltzer sprays, telescoping display cases, and the deadliest floating magical key (complete with amazingly visible strings) ever depicted in a three-dimensional format.

Treasure of the Four Crowns used to play repeatedly on SHOWTIME when I was a child. Even at a young and tender age, I knew that this film was not to be considered "good" by any stretch of the imagination. Yet I couldn't bear to miss it when it was on, and could barely look away. Over twenty years later, I am still mesmerized by this film. My only regret is that I have never seen it in it's 3-D glory. Let us up that My Bloody Valentine's new 3-D reincarnation jump-starts a new wave of nostalgia and encourages a remastered DVD of this timeless, worthless classic.