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Confessions Of A Working Director - 1/13/2009

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One of the sequences in RATLINE is being shot to mimic Restricted U.S. Military Films of the early 1940's.  In our "military film" you'll see "seized motion picture footage of Nazi medical / paranormal experiments."

We made a decision early in pre-production to shoot as much as we can of this material ourselves - instead of inserting actual archive film footage and stills of Nazis doing the horrible things they did.

We felt it would be a feather in our cap if we could re-create these kinds of images on an indie film budget.  Also, using real footage of real Nazis doing really horrible things to real people in our movie just didn't feel right.  If this were a documentary, it would be appropriate - but for RATLINE, it seemed more appropriate to shoot it ourselves.  RATLINE is a fictional work of escapism and fantasy, not a grim reminder of real-world atrocities.  I watch a lot of documentaries about World War II and the rise / fall of the Nazis.  Remembering what happened in that time is extremely important.  But RATLINE isn't the place for it.  Also, the challenge of shooting this material ourselves was enticing.

So, unless we need to show a specific historical location, object, or person (such as Hitler or Himmler), all of RATLINE's 1944 "military film" and the Nazi footage and stills contained therein, will be original material shot by us.  I'll throw you more details about this in future blogs.  For now, check out the photo of the headless corpse posted with this blog.  This is one of RATLINE's crew members who volunteered to get naked and bloody in order to play one of the Nazi's decapitation victims.  Gruesome!

I was recently treated to a night out at the movies.  We saw THE UNBORN, which contained a couple of very interesting, horrific images, but not much else to write home about.  I know, I shouldn't have expected much from a PG-13 horror movie - but I really like THE RING and that movie was PG-13... and well, JAWS was PG, but those were better days for films - plus Spielberg can always get away with R-rated violence in PG or PG-13 movies for some reason... but I'm getting off track here...

While watching this rather disappointing movie (THE UNBORN was essentially a very watered down EXORCIST with Jewish folks instead of Catholics) I was upset to see a Nazi sub-plot develop in much the same way RATLINE's Nazi subplot emerges!  Thankfully, THE UNBORN's subplot went somewhere completely different than ours does in RATLINE.  Plus, unlike the RATLINE plot, THE UNBORN's Nazi backstory was about the SS doing genetic experiments on twins.  I researched this specific topic while developing RATLINE and in addition to being fascinating, it is indeed some genuinely chilling, nightmarish shit.  There is a gold mine of horror movie story material to mine from this unfortunately real obsession the Nazi's had.  To my disappointment, THE UNBORN didn't do much with the story opportunities available...  and the "experimentation" flashbacks were amazingly bland.  (Yes, I know, PG-13... I'm sorry, I'm SORRY!)

At the other end of the spectrum, in writing RATLINE I took the story opportunities offered to us by history and I did my best to use such material for maximum narrative and visual punch.  It may even be TOO much for some viewers... but hey, that's why Baby Jesus invented PG-13 horror movies for them to go see instead.

On another topic...

In February of last year, I was honored to be a featured guest at the Texas Frightmare Weekend horror convention in Dallas.  (There are cool photos from this convention in the INSIGHT section at wickedpixel.com.)  Here's a photo of me with Sarah Swofford (of SUGAR CREEK) at last year's Frightmare.  Sarah was also a featured guest at this event.  A few months after hanging out with Sarah at this convention, I called her up to offer her a part in RATLINE.

I actually met Sarah Swofford in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Full Moon horror convention and film festival.  DEADWOOD PARK was playing in the fest.  Across from the Wicked Pixel Cinema booth in the dealer room was Sarah's booth, where she was promoting SUGAR CREEK.  After a great first meeting in Little Rock, and then getting to spend much more time with her in Dallas at the Frightmare convention, I knew she would be a great addition to our team.  I was absolutely correct - and I have the Full Moon and Texas Frightmare conventions to thank for bringing this very cool actress to the cast of RATLINE.

I am happy to report that the fine gents at Texas Frightmare Weekend have invited me back as a featured guest again this year.  I'll be at the Wicked Pixel Cinema table (come on by and say "hello" ...we can talk about all the great PG-13 horror movies that have been recently released) and I believe I'll be participating in some sort of horror filmmaking Q 'n' A panel during the weekend.  Other featured guests at this year's convention include shock rocker Alice Cooper, legendary actor Dick Miller, TEXAS CHAINSAW director Tobe Hooper, William Forsythe of THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, and Karen Black of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES.

The convention will run May 1st through the 3rd, 2009, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Irving, Texas.  We'd love to see you there, so get more info and pick up some tickets at http://www.texasfrightmareweekend.com!

Last year's Texas Frightmare was a blast - one of the best conventions we've been to (and we've been to a lot of 'em).  So my team and I are very much looking forward to this year's Texas Frightmare Weekend!

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze

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