AV Maniacs formerly DVD maniacs

AV Maniacs Set Report: Wicked Pixel’s Ratline

What’s a ratline? Wikipedia’s entry describes it as a “system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II.” It also happens to be the title of Wicked Pixel’s latest effort, which has been in production since fall of 2008 and which is currently approaching the post-production phase at their headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of Budweiser Beer and Ike Turner.


A few months back, over the course of a chilly October weekend, my girlfriend and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the set of the movie during the shooting of the film’s tense opening sequence – I was to play a corpse. We arrived mid-afternoon, after enjoying a scenic drive with producer Jeremy Wallace, in front of a non-descript looking Midwestern auto body shop. From the outside, nothing seemed amiss. The shop was located in a small town across the Missouri border in Illinois, situated on a back road and removed from the traffic of the main highway. Most of the buildings that surrounded it were residential, houses and such, rather than industrial and to anyone passing buy, things would seem perfectly normal.  


Inside the garage, however, it was a different story. The cast and crew sat inside, patiently, snacking on Doritos and peanut butter sandwiches, waiting for things to start up. Shortly after our arrival, it was time to get into make up. As I mentioned, I knew I was playing a corpse, but didn’t know until I got there that I was playing a corpse with a big bullet hole in his head. It took a while to get the make up applied but the results looked frighteningly realistic. Everyone’s used fake blood before on Halloween but looking at yourself in the mirror with a realistic bullet hole in your head adds a whole different level of weird to the experience.


Once the rest of the actors and actresses were in wardrobe and had their own make up applied, it was time to shoot. Director Eric Stanze, who also served as cinematographer, kept a cool sense of control over the set despite some technical difficulties – blood pumps don’t always work the way you want them to and it’s important to get just the right amount of arterial spray to satisfy your artistic wants when shooting a film. A few minutes and a couple of tweaks later it was time to start shooting. My job was to lay perfectly still on the floor and look dead, which sounds easy enough until you realize how cold a concrete floor can be on a cold October night. Add to that the fact that some of the action in the scene took place right over my head and laying perfectly still proved to be a little trickier than it might sound. Three takes later, Eric had to footage he wanted and the crew moved on to the next scene while I hosed myself off and we headed back to the hotel, exhausted but happy to have pitched in. 


So where is Ratline now? It’s not done yet. It’s getting there but there’s still a lot of work to do. Wicked Pixel are producing the film independently which, in this economy, is not an easy task. Film productions can always use more money and there’s no such thing as a budget that’s too big. To help raise some money to complete the picture, Wicked Pixel is offering fans a chance to ‘see their name in lights’ so to speak. Investment packages are being accepted through their website and depending upon the level of commitment, you could wind up with a legitimate movie credit to your name. With investment options starting at only $50 this is an interesting chance to help make a movie happen and interested parties are advised to click this link for more information.


The picture should be an interesting mix of the harder edged horror movies that Wicked Pixel got their start with that simultaneously continues the growth and maturity seen in their previous effort, the atmospheric and moody Deadwood Park. While Stanze is once again working with talented Wicked Pixel regulars like Emily Haack, Jason Christ and DJ Vivona, model/actress/Chihuahua afficionado Alex Del Monacco has a starring role as does indy actress Sarah Swofford. The film, while set in the modern day, also has a few interesting ‘period’ scenes which tie in to the movie’s name and the locations secured for the film are top notch and appropriately seedy. The talented people involved in the production have all been giving 110% to bring the production in on time and with limited funds but Wicked Pixel’s track record speaks for itself. With no distribution details to announce yet it’s tough to wrap up a piece like this, so let’s just close it off with few links of interest:For more information on Wicked Pixel, click here, and to keep up with Ratline’s production schedule be sure to check out Stanze’s blog which is hosted by our friends over at FEAR.net.  

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