[ What’s it about? ] ^ Lonnie Lord is a million-album-selling rock ‘n’ roll star who will rock out at the drop of a hat. When his girlfriend Cee Bee is kidnapped by the Chain Gang, he and a gardner named Titus Twimbly spring into action as their alter egos, Rat Pfink and Boo Boo.
[ What did you think? ] ^ This is one of my favorite films, based on its sheer lunacy and audacity. It’s directed by Ray Dennis Steckler, the man who brought you “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies” and “Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Green Grasshopper and the Vampire Lady from Outer Space”. Good or bad, his films carry absolutely no pretention and always appear to have been made by people who are having a really good time. “The Adventures of Rat Pfink a Boo Boo” seems to have been made with the “let’s-put-on-a-show” attitude that, because of the cost of making a feature film, doesn’t exist anymore. Steckler’s locations usually include his home and neighborhood and the cast is made up of friends and relatives.
There are a couple of legends surrounding this film which kind of set its tone. The first half plays out like a lurid thriller with a group of restless, armed toughs randomly terrorizing and ultimately abducting Cee Bee, the famous Lonnie Lord’s girlfriend (and Steckler’s real-life wife, Carolyn Brandt). Supposedly, midway through production, Steckler become bored with this plot line and decided to transform it into a comedy, complete with slapstick and sped up footage. The change happens quite jarringly. During a scene in which he contemplates a rescue scheme, Lonnie turns to friend and gardner Titus Twimbly (played by Titus Moede) and enigmaticly declares, “This looks like a job for ‘you know’ and ‘who’!” They go into a closet and, after a few minutes of scuffling, emerge as the crime fighting team of Rat Pfink and Boo Boo with the declaration, “Fight crime!”. The costumes look as if they were thrown together the night before (probably around the same time that Steckler decided to change the story). Their only power seems to be the ability to ride around on a motorcycle with a sidecar at incredible speeds without falling off.
Another legend is that when the film’s titles were sent out to be shot, the animator accidently left out the “n” and “d” turning “Rat Pfink and Boo Boo” into “Rat Pfink a Boo Boo”. Without the money or energy to make the correction, the name stuck. Also, the dynamic duo’s victory parade at the end of the film is actually a legitimate Christmas parade that the film production crashed. They shoved the guys and their motorcycle into the middle of the procession and, when the footage is cut together, it looks as if the parade has actually been thrown in their honor.
The entire film also has a strange look. In ’65, Steckler hadn’t made the complete transition to color film. This picture was shot In black and white and then processed with colored lights. The creepy first half of the story is tinted dark blue; the wacky second half is orange. It was also shot without sound so all dialog and sound effects have been dubbed in after the fact, giving it a strange, disjointed quality.
Usually, all of this off-the-cuff inventiveness adds up to uneven and aimless productions, but somehow in the case of “Rat Pfink” it works because it retains a sense of fun.
By the way, I don’t think that the story originally had a big enough finale to satisify Steckler so, as usual, he went to his ace-in-the-hole, “Kogar the Swingin’ Ape”. The ape comes out of nowhere and fights Rat Pfink until his keeper shows up and leads him away. Another legend is that this scene was shot in Griffith Park, just on the other side of the hill from the L.A. Zoo. Apparenty, two patroling park rangers mistook Kogar for an escaped bear and had him in the sights of a shotgun before noticing the film crew shooting the scene.
[ Is it worth checking out? ] ^ Definitely. It’s another “hard-to-find-but-worth-the-hunt” flick.