The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964 D: Ray Dennis Steckler, W: Gene Pollock, Robert Silliphant)
Drive-In Theaters are, for the most part, lost now. I saw a bunch of films at drive-ins in the ’70s and early ’80s with my parents or neighborhood kids –from The Apple Dumpling Gang to Hot Stuff (starring Dom Deluise and Jerry Reed!), to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Conan The Barbarian — but one night stands out. Working at the U Film Society in Minneapolis, fresh out of college, and working with Joel Shepard and Doug Jones, we rented a drive-in in St. Louis Park and showed a triple feature: The Last House on the Left, Andy Milligan’s Torture Dungeon, and this unforgettable picture. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies was Ray Dennis Steckler’s first film, and was shot, on a budget of $38,000, by Laszlo Kovacs, who later did Easy Rider, Shampoo, Ghostbusters and tons of other movies, and by Vilmos Zsigmond, who later did Close Encounters, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Blow Out. Steckler (as “Cash Flagg”) plays the main character Jerry, as well as the main zombie himself, which he portrays by cinching his hoodie tightly around his face. Did I mention it’s a musical? Did I mention Steckler as “Cash Flagg” is a dead ringer for Nicolas Cage? Wikipedia tells me the film was shot in an empty Masonic temple owned by Rock Hudson. During this film and The Last House on the Left, the drive-in was packed full of cars. Ten minutes into the last feature, Torture Dungeon, there were 2 cars left. Steckler was still making movies until he passed away recently, shooting them out of a video store he owned in Las Vegas.