Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis are present-day documentary film directors determined to discover everything they can about Karl Atticus, an eccentric and extreme yet influential Maryland filmmaker who allegedly scared audiences so badly with his final film, moviegoers rioted at the premiere. The controversial movie, a 1972 horror production called Mortal Remains was shrouded in controversy with stories of strange behavior on the set, including possible grave robbing and the use of real corpses. Researching the life and death of Atticus proves to be much more disturbing than Mark and Christian could have imagined.
From the beginning, circumstances suggest they should probably have left well enough alone. The filmmakers run into significant trouble and resistance as they attempt to put this movie together and the intensity holds throughout the entire film.
One of the best aspects in this documentary-style film lies in the on-camera presence of the filmmakers. They are very serious about their project and that passion translates well. The interviews with Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) and others familiar with the horror director’s work help fuel speculation about Atticus and the lack of any easily accessible information about him.
The filmmakers made the most of a meager budget. The production value rivals any studio-funded feature. Among several other awards, Mortal Remains won Best Motion Picture Editing at the 2013 Terror Film Festival.
With the exception of a few hardcore scenes, there is not a lot of gore. Most of the thrills are implied and quite effective. Archive footage from local news reports, Atticus films and and newspaper articles from the 1970’s help take the audience along for the ride.
The documentary technique keeps things interesting and some well-placed, appropriate found-footage adds to the mystery. Mortal Remains offers an original concept with excellent storytelling. After more than 40 years, it is about time we hear story of Karl Atticus.