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Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher, The
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Zero + Zero = Zero"
1 stars

Ray Dennis Steckler belongs to that small, eccentric band of misfit directors who are revered precisely because they never made a decent movie in their lives. At least Steckler had a good eye for titles, like Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?--but they're attached to movies that tend not to be as much fun as they sound. And so it is with this late entry in the Steckler oeuvre. (I promise there will be no further usage of the phrase "Steckler oeuvre.")

There is a creepy photographer who lurks around Hollywood, thinking misogynistic thoughts (in a woodenly recited, Taxi Driver-ish voiceover) while he strangles "unclean" models. This is the Hollywood Strangler. Meanwhile, there is a mousy female bookstore owner who spends her off-hours stabbing winos with a switchblade. This is the Skid Row Slasher. They finally "meet" in the final five minutes, a less-than-titanic encounter that makes one yearn for the glory days of Dracula vs. Frankenstein.

And that, friends and neighbors, is just about all that's worth mentioning, as THSMTSRS is so devoid of content it nearly morphs into an Andy Warhol film. The plot, as far as it goes, hews to a drearily mechanical stalk-kill formula: The Strangler takes pictures of an unsuspecting young model; the Stranger chokes the life out of her (sample voiceover: "Die, garbage!"); the Stranger plays with his pet birds while contemplating the vileness of womankind; then Miss Skid Row Slasher goes into action. That's it, pretty much.

Nor are the killings themselves terribly well-done; Steckler is such an inattentive filmmaker that in one scene you can see fake blood on the Skid Row Slasher's switchblade before she stabs her victim.

It's the sort of movie that, lacking much in the way of plot, inspires random thoughts. As an L.A. resident, I was mildly--very mildly--diverted by the 1980-era landscapes. I also perked up somewhat when the Strangler whacked a young woman who looked vaguely like Paris Hilton. But even this sequence proved disappointing because the Strangler smothered Miss Hilton to death with a pillow, and I did not sign up to see a movie about a Hollywood Pillow-Smotherer.

In the interest of closing this out on a positive note, I will point out that THSMTSRS runs an agreeably brief 72 minutes.

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originally posted: 03/07/07 22:47:48
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  02-Feb-1979 (R)
  DVD: 29-Jun-2004

  N/A (18)


Directed by
  Ray Dennis Steckler

Written by
  Ray Dennis Steckler

  Pierre Agostino
  Carolyn Brandt

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