We first encountered Ray Dennis Steckler in the early Nineties when we arrived in Los Angeles and were introduced to his 1962 movie Wild Guitar, which was a hit VHS revival among our post-punk rockabilly friends along Hollywood Boulevard.
Some years later, working on some television series, we got in touch with Ray with the intention of telling his story. The auteur had settled in Las Vegas where he worked out of a strip mall and continued to make his movies, those great low-budget affairs that were shot without sound, relayered in post, unleashed at drive ins to play third billing behind Mexican wrestling flicks or dumped in offbeat video stores. Ray was all full of enthusiasm and new movie ideas as well as stacks of naked audition tapes of the would-be actresses who for some reason came to Las Vegas to find Hollywood and found their way to the strip mall instead. He sent us boxes of tapes including his Ruehlian classics like Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (originally titled Rat Fink A Go Go but when the titlemaker got it wrong, they stuck with it), The Lemon Grove Kids, a Bowery Boys homage in which he played his familiar Huntz Hallian character, and Las Vegas Serial Killer, a real creepfest from the late Eighties. Ray was a low budget, wacky inspiration. We just found out he was dead and wanted to give a mention before we headed out.