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Body Fever1969

Super Cool | Deadlocked | The Last Original B-Movie

  • 3.4
An intriguing, exciting, and colorful installment in the Steckler chronicles, pits a ruthless dope ring leader after a sexy cat burglar (Carolyn Brandt) who's ripped him off. It's up to a Humphrey Bogart worshipping private eye named Charlie Smith, (Ray Steckler under the Cash Flag MO) to find her before the drug boss puts her to sleep for good! Charlie falls under the spell of the beautiful femme fatale as they plan a double cross against the seedy and cold-blooded gangsters.

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3 members like this review

“Body Fever” is the chicken standing in the middle of the road. If this film had been made fifteen, or even ten years earlier, in black and white, it might be regarded today as a diamond in the rough; a proto-indie, underground noir like “Blast of Silence;” the undernourished kid brother of Kubrick’s “Killer’s Kiss.”

But this was 1969. Classic film noir and the hard boiled detective story were played out in Hollywood. Done. All but dead. Yet leave it to Ray Dennis Steckler to arrive late to the party.

Steckler’s cinematic alter-ego, “Charlie Smith,” wanders a cold Los Angeles of 16mm bleached colors and damaged film stock. Flower Power is dying and Helter Skelter is coiled to strike. Smith makes his rounds, encounters the usual desperate characters, and recites internal monologues on where he’s at and where he’s going. He’s a Z-movie Travis McGhee, the non-conformist, anti-gumshoe of John D. McDonald’s popular series of paperback mystery adventures.

Steckler, like Smith, seems a bit lost, out of time and out of place. Steckler’s career might have flourished a decade or two earlier in the glory days of Poverty Row B movie productions. It’s not hard to imagine him churning out dozens of cheap westerns, drive-in monster flicks, and Bowery Boys knock-offs.

Much of the “Body Fever” suffers from the zero-budget maladies typical of Steckler productions. Acting is off-kilter, location shooting looks rushed and improvised, some shots are murky…lost in the shadows (though that could be due to the condtion of the print). The soundtrack comes from a can: the same Library Music tracks heard in the old Spiderman cartoons Ralph Bakshi worked on--a perfect fit in a Steckler production.

Yet in spite of its flaws, this is one of Steckler’s better features, probably his most introspective work. There is a style to the narrative seen in the camera work and editing here that lifts “Body Fever” a little higher than most of Steckler’s psycho-killer flicks. He tried to bring Raymond Chandler to the Grindhouse.

“Body Fever” transports to a seedy, cynical vice-ridden world that predates 70’s movies such as Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” by several years. Too late. Too soon. Out of sync, and lost. Such is the fate of the chicken in the middle of the road and the legacy of the career of Ray Dennis Steckler.

81629.small
top reviewer

Member Reviews (3)

81629.small
top reviewer

“Body Fever” is the chicken standing in the middle of the road. If this film had been made fifteen, or even ten years earlier, in black and white, it might be regarded today as a diamond in the rough; a proto-indie, underground noir like “Blast of Silence;” the undernourished kid brother of Kubrick’s “Killer’s Kiss.”

But this was 1969. Classic film noir and the hard boiled detective story were played out in Hollywood. Done. All but dead. Yet leave it to Ray Dennis Steckler to arrive late to the party.

Steckler’s cinematic alter-ego, “Charlie Smith,” wanders a cold Los Angeles of 16mm bleached colors and damaged film stock. Flower Power is dying and Helter Skelter is coiled to strike. Smith makes his rounds, encounters the usual desperate characters, and recites internal monologues on where he’s at and where he’s going. He’s a Z-movie Travis McGhee, the non-conformist, anti-gumshoe of John D. McDonald’s popular series of paperback mystery adventures.

Steckler, like Smith, seems a bit lost, out of time and out of place. Steckler’s career might have flourished a decade or two earlier in the glory days of Poverty Row B movie productions. It’s not hard to imagine him churning out dozens of cheap westerns, drive-in monster flicks, and Bowery Boys knock-offs.

Much of the “Body Fever” suffers from the zero-budget maladies typical of Steckler productions. Acting is off-kilter, location shooting looks rushed and improvised, some shots are murky…lost in the shadows (though that could be due to the condtion of the print). The soundtrack comes from a can: the same Library Music tracks heard in the old Spiderman cartoons Ralph Bakshi worked on--a perfect fit in a Steckler production.

Yet in spite of its flaws, this is one of Steckler’s better features, probably his most introspective work. There is a style to the narrative seen in the camera work and editing here that lifts “Body Fever” a little higher than most of Steckler’s psycho-killer flicks. He tried to bring Raymond Chandler to the Grindhouse.

“Body Fever” transports to a seedy, cynical vice-ridden world that predates 70’s movies such as Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” by several years. Too late. Too soon. Out of sync, and lost. Such is the fate of the chicken in the middle of the road and the legacy of the career of Ray Dennis Steckler.

3 members like this review
20e2d34fa40e8f79b2cadb5e6bab5e0d?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0013
top reviewer

B movie detective story shot on a pawnshop budget that’s fun to watch because of the crazy unevenness and quirkiness. Well-told, complex whodunnit plot that demands your attention, some well-shot scenes and great acting by secondary characters like Bernard Fein as the drug kingpin. Other scenes are so terribly lit you barely see anything, other acting (especially from the two leads) and ad-libbed dialogue are laugh-out-loud atrocious. I’ll definitely check out other movies by this director.

1 member likes this review
81629.small
top reviewer

"Body Fever" is definitely one of The more intriguing features by the legendary Ray Dennis Steckler. He was quite a character, a bit of a Hollywood misfit (who of course found other Hollywood misfits to work with). His scripts seemed to come from the Ed Wood school of storytelling, but Steckler was a highly skilled filmmaker, so you had weird films that were shot well. Check out "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo," which was shot without a working script. It starts off as mean little pscho-thriller, then u-Turns into a slapstick comedy! Biff! Bang! Pow!

C5563e1a224ed5f73b70e9811f132c40?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0049
top reviewer

THIS IS ONE OF TH FINEST 1969 MOVIES I HAVE EVER SEEN THRILLS EVERY SECOND AND A PLOT LOADED WITH EXTREME TWISTS AND TURNS NEVER A DULL MOMENT A JOY TO WATCH AND EXCELLENT DIRECTING AND ACTING! ATRULY MUST SEE FILM!!!!!

81629.small
top reviewer

You really need to watch "Rat Pfink A Boo Boo"again!