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To inquire further about Mortal Remains, please contact the producers via the "Contact" link provided at the top of this screen, or at:

Cryptic Pictures

105 Timberbrook Lane

Suite 301

Gaithersburg MD 20878

E-mail: ​ 

Tel: (+1) 1-301-257-9275


Mortal Remains is a docu-thriller which aims to unearth 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.

The film features interviews with various horror aficionados and industry personalities including Eduardo Sanchez, director of the Blair Witch Project  who wondered in a 2008 interview:  Why for over 40 years has Atticus's legacy  been all but eradicated from the annals of  horror film history? 

This film reveals much  about this elusive figure: a man

who inspired a  generation of filmmakers, but who has

yet  to receive  due credit  for his  contributions  to  the

genre.  Crew members  who worked alongside  Atticus

detail the puzzling circumstances under which his last

film was created:  missing  cast members, intimations  

of  occult  activity,  and  allegations  of  special  effects 

"too convincing" for their time.  Was Atticus a genuine

auteur who challenged the industry  and  was silenced 

by his contemporaries?  Or were his  films  simply pre-

text-- elaborate showpieces designed  to glorify  work

of a far more sinister nature?  


Filmed on location in  Maryland and  Pennsylvania, the film hopes to ​confirm the legends and establish once and for all the legacy of a man whose final film is now considered by some to be the "Holy Grail  of horror."


Does a print of Atticus's 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 genre’s most influential directors been reduced to the level of myth?

Perhaps some secrets should stay buried.


Cryptic Pictures LLC is a privately held, fully-integrated film production company with a focus on engaging the ever shape-shifting film industry and its current cinematic landscape,  for the benefit of the indie-film market and its artists.  Founded in 2009 by Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis, the company is setting the standard for innovative, compelling works that transcend typical industry formulas in an effort to keep the "art and soul" alive in modern cinema.  Discover more about the company and its various operations at, or its film site, at​.



Check out Mortal Remains  on the web:
The AFTER MOVIE DINER Podcast (Archived)
HAND ME DOWN FILMS Podcast #1 (Archived)
HAND ME DOWN FILMS Podcast #2 (Archived)

Misc. Links:


Q&A with


Below is the extended version of the Dread Central Interview March 2013:

Q:  Tell us a little bit about Cryptic Pictures?

MARK:  Although we are a very young, emerging film production company, Chris
(the co-founder) and I have been in the film business, to varying degrees, for quite some time.  I run two other production companies, as well as teach film, and I was once a screenwriter by trade with one competitive award under my belt. Chris' legacy is as a film historian, screenwriter and makeup effects specialist that has worked on numerous studio films.  So although the company is young, the body of work behind it has allowed us to settle into to this new business venture with great ease. 

Q: Where did you two meet?

MARK:  Our back-story, which is briefly mentioned in our

new film, is the straight truth.  Chris and I met in high

school when we were very green, budding film makers. Our

love of film has held its bond between us for some 25

years since. 
CHRIS:  For better or for worse. (laughs)

Q: You laugh Chris? I sense there is a story there.

CHRIS: I like to think of us as Lucas and Coppola. He’s the

analytical, frugal 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 3

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.

Q:  What is your new film, Mortal Remains, about?

MARK:  Mortal Remains is what I like to call a 'shockumentary'.
CHRIS:  I prefer "docuthriller".
MARK:  Yeah… try selling that moniker to a studio exec or advertising department.  Anyway… I don't suspect that many of your readers will have ever heard of 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.

CHRIS: 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 pin points Atticus as being the origin story 

from which this has all  evolved.  So little reference material exists that his story is considered apocryphal now.

MARK:  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 film goers don't even know he existed.
CHRIS:  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.
MARK:  Thus the moniker "shockumentary".

Q: How did you all come to discover the filmmaker Karl Atticus in the first place?

MARK:  Our introduction to Karl Atticus came out of an interview with film director Eduardo Sanchez (Blair Witch Project, Exists).  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 then about the Blair Witch Project. From that point, we just had to know more about this guy and why we had never heard his name mentioned before.
CHRIS: 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.

Q: What more can you tell us about turn of the century author Vernon Blake, who also fairs prominently in your story?

CHRIS: Like Karl Atticus, Vernon Blake is a very mysterious figure with a shadowy and elusive past. 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.
MARK:  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  makes for an intriguing film, if nothing else.

Q: How long was your film in production?

MARK: Roughly, three years from the first time we heard the name 'Karl Atticus' to the point where we began solicitation. Very early on we piqued the interest of a studio exec by showing him an early trailer.  From that point forward we knew we were on to something.

Q: Are you currently soliciting the film?

CHRIS: Yes, in fact we have had several interested parties contact us already.  Some, who even spoke with us after only seeing a rough cut of the film.  So we know the story has caught the attention of a select few, including the one major studio Mark just mentioned. But we haven't signed anything yet because we are still trying to grasp the emerging market, which seems to be ever changing
MARK:  Nowadays, one has to be cautious
about signing anything right away.
Obviously, your goal as a filmmaker is to get
the most exposure you possibly can for your
project. And we've been consciously
exploring a variety of these new avenues
that, until recently, have never been an
option for us.
CHRIS:  Don't forget that Mark and I grew up in
the 70s when Hollywood possessed a singular marketing strategy, which was major theatrical release.  Now, artists have to legitimately entertain V.O.D, mobile applications, online TV, cable, DVD release, and the list seems to grow yearly.
MARK:  We are also currently engaged in a college tour to uncover how niche the film really is. Those audience will be a major factor in how we choose to release the film for mass consumption and which opportunities will most benefit Cryptic Pictures.

Q: What with the emergence of social media in recent years, how have you formulated your marketing campaign?

MARK:  Mortal Remains has no known commodities other then its genre specific nature; it possesses no stars, it's not a sequel with build-in brand naming, etc.  Even the genre from which it stems (found footage) is in flux right now. Hollywood hasn't quite wrapped their heads around its fullest potential.  The major studios are still only dabbling in it.
CHRIS:  Which, to be fair, is what we did, too.  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 been pretty much been swept under the carpet. But getting anyone to talk about it, other then 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 seem 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?"
MARK:  Now, although this is all intriguing, we know a general audience won't sit
through a 90 minute documentary.  Today audiences want their hand held through a movie. So we incorporated a found footage element that showed us on the hunt.
CHRIS:  "Show, don't tell" was my mantra during filming.
MARK:  And the found footage element we incorporated into the film ended up providing us with our key marketing ploy, because there are already built in methods for advertising a found footage film, successfully, on a large scale. Where as, documentaries are often only ever offered a limited release.
CHRIS:  If that. Unless, of course, you are Michael Moore.  Maybe we should have
interviewed him...
MARK:  Got his number? (laughs).

Q: Are you planning on entering any film festivals?

MARK:  Absolutely.  2013/2014 are our festival years!  We are slated to enter:

Terror Film Festival (Philly, Pa.)
Spooky Movie International
Horror Film Festival (Washington, D.C.)
The Horror Quest  (Atlanta, Ga.)
Three Rivers Film Festival (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

London Independent Film Festival,

(London, UK)

CHRIS:  We also have our website,, and Facebook

pages for both the company and the film

itself, so be  sure to “friend” or “like” us there in order to keep up with all the latest news surrounding the project. You can also check us out on Twitter @CrypticPictures.

Q: What does Cryptic Pictures have 'boiling in the pot'?

CHRIS:  We have been bouncing around a variety of ideas…
MARK: None of which we can explain in detail in this sort of forum. But we are setting our goals high for the future of the company, especially since we have managed to personally finance, produce and direct Mortal Remains with such success.
CHRIS: We know we are the new guys on the block for right now, but it won't be that way for long.


Website Pic Cipher.jpg
mini Karl PostcardPostcard.jpg












(in alphabetical order)


John Amplas
John Bakos
Bryan Beard
John Bender
Elizabeth Brokaw
Joshua Brokaw
David Burian
Kathryn Coleman
Charles F. Craig
Eric S. Cravenor
Michael V. Coote
Brett Day
J. B. Destiny
Peter A. Flood
Mia Gillespie
Peter Graf
Michael G. Gornick
James “Doc” Herrmann
Grant Leslie Hopkins
Mark Janicko
Derek January
Addison Johns
Albert Johns
Timothy Johns
Lee Karr
Ricky Keller
Kurt Kulhanek
Paul Machusko
Ralph McIntyre
Christopher M. Mitri
George E. Morris
Jay Moser
Cathryn Mowrey
Phillip Nardozzi
Victor E. Navarro
Trevor Okonak
Chuck Oles

John Ovington
Josh Pachter
Daniel Peckham
Fred Presley
Elizabeth Pursh
Mark Ricche
Phil Ricche
Ben Rod
Frank A. Salati
Eduardo Sanchez
Raymond J. Schmaus
Art Skillman
Dwight E. Smith
Annie Stavrakis
Christian Stavrakis
Gabrele Streeter
Matthew Swetz
Nick “Bomba” Tallo
Sara Marie Wallace
Stacy Lynn Waugaman
Sandra M. Woods

Jennifer Coote
Michael V. Coote
Norman England
Don Gilmore
Kathryn Hamilton
Albert Johns
Timothy Johns

Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis


Josh Brokaw
Kathryn  Hamilton
Timothy Johns
Fred Presley
Mark Ricche
Annie Stavrakis
Christian Stavrakis

Christian Stavrakis

Christian Stavrakis

Kevin MacLeod
Michael V. Coote

Mark Ricche

Thom Murphy & Richard Parsakian
Eons Fashion Antique, Pittsburgh, PA


Michael V. Coote


Tamer Ziady


Kelsey Bigelow


Cinematografic Emmeci
(Nightmare Castle - 1965)
Digital Canon Fonts
Vidiots Channel

Mark Ricche


Steven Douglas Craig
Eduardo Sanchez / Haxan Films

Annie Stavrakis

The Allegheny Cemetery

Dreaming Ant Video
Dean Brandt
Andrew McKeon

Foxwall EMS / Rick Duffy

James Herrmann

The Timothy Johns Family

Oakmont Carnegie Library
Beth Mellor

The Oaks Theater, Oakmont, PA
Samantha Bassett
Nick Bland
Randall Collins
Adam Morgan

Police Department Liason
Trevor Okonak

The Presley Family

Riverview School District
Oakmont, PA

The Rockville Civic Mansion

The Sanchez Family

William Stanhope

Woodlawn Corporation
Scott Ray


Kevin Ricche


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2010 - present

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