Exclusive: Christian Stavrakis and Mark Ricche Talk Mortal Remains; New Trailer Debuts Today! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Christian Stavrakis and Mark Ricche Talk Mortal Remains; New Trailer Debuts Today!

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Exclusive: Cryptic Pictures' Christian Stavrakis and Mark Ricche Talk Mortal Remains; New Trailer Debuts Today!On the verge of unleashing their new indie film Mortal Remains on the world, Christian Stavrakis and Mark Ricche, the men behind the Cryptic Pictures production company, sat down with Dread Central to talk about their flick and reveal a new trailer.

Co-written, co-directed and co-produced by Stavrakis and Ricche, Mortal Remains is having a sneak preview at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh, PA, on Saturday, March 16th, with the creators in attendance for a Q&A.

Check out our chat with the men and the film’s newest trailer below, and for more visit the official Cryptic Pictures website, “like” Mortal Remains on Facebook and follow Cryptic Pictures on Twitter (@CrypticPictures).

We spoke with Stavrakis and Ricche about their partnership, Mortal Remains and Cryptic Pictures. “Chris and I have been in the film business for quite some time,” Ricche said. “I run two other production companies, and I also teach film. I was also once a screenwriter by trade with one competitive award under my belt. Chris, on the other hand, has worked on numerous studio productions over the years and also has a background as a film historian, screenwriter and makeup effects specialist. So although our company is rather young, the body of work behind it has enabled us to settle into to this new business venture with relative ease. Chris and I met in high school when we were very green, budding filmmakers. It is that love of film that has held a bond between us for some 25 years now.”

“I like to think of us as Lucas and Coppola,” Stavrakis said. “He’s the frugal, analytical half of our symbiotic brain, and I’m the creative lunatic. If I say, ‘I need 25 people in monkey suits tomorrow!’ he’ll come back with, ‘Okay, I can get you three suits, but go ahead and find a dozen people and we’ll make it work.’ In the final cut you’ll never notice that there are three monkey suits in the foreground and nine people in brown pajamas running around behind them. And it does work. I don’t know how, but we work.”

Ricche and Stavrakis dished the info on Mortal Remains. “Mortal Remains is what I like to call a ‘shockumentary’,” Ricche said, with Stavrakis adding, “I prefer ‘docuthriller.” Ricche continued, “I don’t suspect that many of your readers will have ever heard the name ‘Karl Atticus’ before. He was a young horror filmmaker from the late 60s, early 70s, who died under mysterious circumstances and whose body of work remains elusive or has otherwise been lost. Those fans who do know about him consider his film Mortal Remains to be sort of the holy grail of horror films.”

Stavrakis added, “Ever hear of the urban legend about the film that was ‘screened only once and drove its audience mad?’ Well this, perhaps, is where it all began. Over the years there have been books and films based on the idea but nothing that pinpoints Atticus as being the origin story from which this has all evolved. So little reference material exists that his story is considered apocryphal now.” Ricche added, “In fact, there are those within the industry who attribute Atticus with being the godfather of the slasher film movement. He was putting out some of the most distasteful and graphic films the public had ever seen, and this was long before folks were throwing up in the aisles at viewings of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or running to go to confession after seeing The Exorcist. He was clearly instrumental in the genre; yet, most filmgoers don’t even know he existed.”

Stavrakis explains Atticus’ tie-in with their movie. “Our film ventures the question, ‘Why has this man’s story been lost’? We kept digging deeper and deeper until we uncovered the real bones of this story. We were shocked at some of what we found.”

The filmmakers explained how they became aware of the whole Atticus affair. “Our introduction to Atticus came out of an interview with film director Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Exists),” Ricche said. “We were working on a BWP 10th anniversary DVD retrospective when the topic came up. After we wrapped the shoot, we found ourselves talking with Ed more about Karl Atticus than about The Blair Witch Project. From that point on, we just had to know more about this guy and why we had never heard his name mentioned before.” Stavrakis added, “And the more we learned, the more compelling the story became. He seemed to be much more than just an amateur filmmaker. He had very strange sub-plots of his life unfolding just before he passed away. In fact, he was about to be formally arraigned when he apparently committed suicide. Shortly thereafter, his life was sort of loosely wrapped up and forgotten about. However, some people didn’t forget. Our film picks up this thread, these loose ends that have been ignored for some 40 years now.”

Mortal Remains

The story of Mortal Remains also deals much with an author named Vernon Blake, whom Ricche and Stavrakis spoke about. “Like Karl Atticus, Vernon Blake is a very mysterious figure with a shadowy and elusive past,” Stavrakis said. “The few people we contacted who really knew anything about him gave us what they had, which was very vague information. The guy wrote maybe a dozen books and several short stories which were mainly published overseas, typically under pseudonyms. Very graphic stuff, very explicit in terms of detail. It leaves you thinking, ‘Jesus, who was this guy? What inspired him to write stuff like this?’ In the end you just have to chalk it up to a vivid imagination, albeit one that wandered in bizarre directions.” Ricche also noted, “It’s almost as if the two of them (Blake/Atticus) planned it this way. Their art is rare and seemingly inaccessible, unless you literally dig for it. Perhaps that says as much about their art as it does about them. I am not sure either ever wanted to be found. But that is what has makes for an intriguing film, if nothing else.”

Ricche concluded, “Mortal Remains is actually a hybrid docufilm. It is part documentary and part found-footage film. Our primary intention was to expose a generation of horror fans to this little-known, influential figure whose life, works and mysterious death have pretty much been swept under the carpet. But getting anyone to talk about it, other than Ed, was extremely difficult. It took a lot of coaxing. So rather than focus on a bunch of talking heads, the film focuses more on us and the mysterious journey we take as we attempt to uncover the various mysteries surrounding Atticus’ life. The more we uncovered, the more questions seemed to be raised. We kept asking ourselves, ‘Why has no one else ever ventured into learning more about this figure? Is this some sort of cover up?'”

Synopsis
Mortal Remains is a docu-thriller that sets out to unveil the details surrounding the life, career and mysterious death of horror filmmaker Karl Atticus, referred to by some as the godfather of the slasher film movement. The film is comprised of interviews with various horror aficionados, including Eduardo Sanchez (director of The Blair Witch Project), who in a 2008 interview revealed what many have been questioning for over 40 years: that the short-lived career, sudden death and eventual legacy of Karl Atticus have been all but removed from the annals of horror film history. Why?

This film sets out to reveal much about a man who inspired a generation of horror filmmakers but who has yet to receive due credit for his contributions to the genre. Revealing interviews with crew members who worked alongside Atticus detail the mysterious circumstances under which his last film, Mortal Remains, was created; missing cast members, intimations of occult activity and allegations of special effects “too convincing” for their time are only a few of the macabre details revealed in this 90-minute shock-umentary. Was Atticus a genuine auteur who challenged the industry… and was silenced for being ahead of his time? Or were his films simply pretext, elaborate showpieces designed to glorify work of a far more sinister nature?

Filmed on location in Maryland and Pennsylvania, the film hopes to establish and confirm the legacy of a man whose final film (now mysteriously lost to the horror canon) is considered by many to be the holy grail of horror films. Does a print of Atticus’ Mortal Remains still exist? Why were the inconsistencies surrounding his apparent suicide left unanswered by authorities? And why has the life and work of one of the horror genre’s most influential directors been reduced to the status of myth. Perhaps some secrets should stay buried…

Mortal Remains

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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Reviews

AHS: Cult Review: Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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