Oh you just have to be kidding me. I mean, there's bad movies and there's bad movies ... and then there are the films of Ray Dennis Steckler. You folks who call The Phantom Menace the worst movie you've ever seen have no idea about how truly inept and astonishingly awful a film can be. Steckler's 1986 schlock-fest Las Vegas Serial Killer is so bad -- you'll find yourself wishing for something as masterfully crafted as Battlefield Earth or Baby Geniuses 2.
Steckler directed 28 films between 1962 and 1997, and while I have certainly not seen all of them (I'm no masochist), I'd be willing to go out on a limb and call him one of the worst filmmakers ever born; his films make Ed Wood look like Alfred Hitchcock. Don't believe me? Try sitting through a triple feature of Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher, and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, and then (if your brain hasn't forcibly squeezed itself out of your skull) drop me an email so we can discuss the artistry, craftsmanship, and entertainment value of the Steckler ouevre. No lie; films this bad should be used as punishment, perhaps in prisons.
Which brings us to Las Vegas Serial Killer. Plot? Heck, that's easy. A guy who looks like your local plumber strangles women in Las Vegas. Period. Subplot? Sure: two leering idiots mumble things about various female passers-by before throwing them to the ground and stealing their pocketbooks. I swear there's nothing more to the movie than that. Oh yeah, there's a few moments of female toplessness. Consider these the high points.
It's not just that Las Vegas Serial Killer is endlessly boring, shockingly inept, and drier than dirt; it's absolutely one of the most shoddily constructed films I've ever seen. (And I use the word "film" to be charitable.) The movie feels like 78 minutes of home movie footage with dialogue added in after the fact. The "characters" never speak once; the folks onscreen just sort of stand around in a daze while some ADR dialogue-babble oozes through your speakers. It's as if you're watching a particularly depressing episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- only someone forgot to write the jokes.
Seedy remnant of an era in which practically anything could earn a one-week grindhouse engagement if it had bare breasts and at least one murder to offer, Las Vegas Serial Killer represents the absolute nadir of the filmmaking craft. It's something that was slapped together in a few weeks with literally no concern for quality of any kind, but (of course) it's so bad that it's now deemed worthy of a DVD release. But unless you're the sort of person who likes to drop 18 bucks on something that's worth about 18 drops of turtle crap, I suggest you just keep on walking. This is a movie that veers way past "fun bad" and settles into a place of shameless and self-acknowledging ineptitude with a smug and obnoxious grin on its face.
And what's most unforgivable is that Las Vegas Serial Killer was Steckler's 26th film, which only proves that the guy was never interested in making good films. He just churned out the lowest form of cinematic swill and never once tried to improve his game. That's just amazing. And not in a good way.
Video: A grainy, grimy fullscreen transfer that, after only five minutes, illustrates how poorly lensed and constructed Steckler's films are. Media Blasters might have done some work on the transfer to improve it here and there (because I'd be willing to bet the original prints look even worse), so it's not the DVD outlet's fault. Cutting to the chase: you cannot polish a turd -- and here's the proof.
Audio: Mono. Muffled. And virtually nightmarish.
There's a 9-minute interview with the filmmaker, which focuses mainly on much money Steckler got screwed out of back in the day. Hey, Ray, here's a solid hint: make better movies! There's also a full-length audio commentary with the filmmaker, and it comes as no surprise that Mr. Steckler rattles off shooting locations, whines about his nominal budgets, and offers endless narration of the onscreen home-movie footage. "He's the strangler," is about as insightful as Steckler gets here.
Media Blasters has also included two of the director's more obscure short films: Face of Evil and Slashed. Both shorts exist only to prove the supposition that all it takes is a store-bought movie camera to call yourself a "filmmaker." You'll also get a collection of Steckler trailers for Rat Pfink "and" Boo Boo, The Lemon Grove Kids, The Incredibly Strange Creatures, etc., Thrill Killers, Blood Shack, The Hollywood Strangler, and Body Fever.
Media Blasters was wise enough to release this atrocious film as part of their "Guilty Pleasures" banner, but even that designation seems more than a little charitable. There's not one solitary frame of Las Vegas Serial Killer that could be considered a pleasure, and the only person who should feel guilty about unleashing such valueless dreck onto the world is Steckler himself. Yes, I'm well aware that Steckler's filmography is considered a joke the world over, but there's just no excuse for movies this iredeemably worthless.