Chad Van Horn of Horrorbabes.net interviews Richard Poche about his paranormal movie , "The Chills",
now available on demand.
The majority of your movies listed on the IMDB appear to be horror. I assume that you are a horror fan?
Yes, but lately I haven't watched much horror unless you count The Walking Dead. I'm a Dexter junkie as
well but I think that is classified as more of a "thriller." I watch episodic television like Mad Men or Breaking
Bad moreso than seek out the latest horror flicks.
I was a big horror fan as a kid but am a bit of an outlier in that I never liked the slasher movies that were
so prominent when I was a teen in the 1980s. I liked ironic horror like the Twilight Zone or iconic horror like
those you would find in the Hammer film series. My favorite film or should I say series of films was Don
Coscarelli's Phantasm movies. They were great for their time period but now I really can't watch them...I
got older, tastes change and what not.
I do have to say, however, that horror movies are the most fun to make. I have pretty much dabbled in
every single genre and making a horror flick inspires the most anticipation in myself and the cast.
With the cast, I think it has to do with exploring a darker side of themselves. They can curse, yell and be
sadistic in ways they can't in real life. The closest analogy I can come up with is that acting in a horror film
is like playing a video game, you're getting a psychological release of some sort. Directing wise it is a
great exercise in creating suspense. It is a bigger challenge than say doing a romantic comedy or drama.
With horror you have to make your brain sweat and come up with creepy visuals. I try to make the
suspense and dread subliminal. I love the challenge and see myself getting better with every outing.
What were your goals with "The Chills"?
I wanted to make it atmospheric. Take an ordinary and mundane situation like a drug intervention and add
a supernatural element to it. "The Chills" was shot exclusively in my house. The counselor has locked up
the doors and windows so there is no going in or out. The characters soon discover why being locked up
in a haunted house with a drug addict isn't exactly high on the "to do" list of most people.
I wanted "The Chills" to not be construed as another Paranormal Activity/Ghost movie rip off. I took extra
time to develop the characters and their living dynamic to make things seem more real. The more real it
became the more likely the viewer will identify with the horror the characters are experiencing as they can
see some personality traits in themselves or someone they know.
I felt one of the strong points of "The Chills" was the acting. Can you tell me about more about your cast?
Sure. Halie Islava plays Liz, a troubled college student who uses pharmaceuticals to cope with life. Halie
has worked with me previously on "Zoe Dies In The End" one of the short films included in my zombie
anthology. She brings a lot of likability to her role and does not play the character like the stereotypical
party girl. A lot of lesser actresses would have made Liz into an unruly loud mouth and give the character
a lot of snark. But Halie brings a more thoughtful quality to Liz. She's a normal young woman who
engaged in the wrong methods to medicate her pain. You really don't want to judge her, you want to root
for her. Halie is a great find and one of the most talented actresses I've come across in the Bay Area.
Christina Johnson plays Jeri. Christina has become the face of Poche Pictures over the past couple of
years, I've worked with her on numerous occasions (Michael Myers Halloween Fan Film, Long Live The
Dead, among others) Christina is a naturally sweet and kind person so she is perfect to play Jeri. Jeri is
the diplomat of the house and tries to keep the peace between Liz and Alchemy (Kendall McCann). Jeri is
studying to become a counselor but cannot see Liz' addiction objectively because she is a friend. It is a
role that requires someone who can give the "soft answer" when dealing with a delicate situation but also
take a firm stance when necessary. Christina balances the yin and yang of the role very well.
I worked with Kendall McCann once before ("Zoe Dies In The End") as she starred opposite Halie. They
had great chemistry together so I decided to pair them off with each other again. She probably has the
most fun acting here because Alchemy is the hypercritical type a personality that no one can stand but
can be found on just about any job site or dorm room. So the character was written in a way that Kendall
could let loose and be as bitchy as she wanted to be. I enjoyed working with her, she is completely
opposite in real life and has a natural acting ability that has not been squelched by some Mickey Mouse
Rachel Riley plays Kate, the counselor who is called in by Jeri to lead the intervention. It was my first time
working with Rachel, we flew her in from L.A. and she is a highly experienced talent who is adept at giving
nuances that I didn't even think of. Her role isn't an easy one here, she could have easily succumbed to
being the self-righteous or jaded counselor too often seen in episodic television. Rachel does a great job
in portraying Kate as someone who can acquire trust in awkward and desperate situations.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to work with such awesome actresses.
Did you write the film yourself?
Vicky L.Neal wrote the screenplay. She has written several scripts for me and I love her work. She works
extremely fast but also imbues the characters with nuance. Usually, I give her a rough outline or ideas and
she takes them from there.
I heard once that there are three writers to a movie. First, is the screenwriter who experiences and writes
his/her vision. Then the performers (actors/director) interpret their version of what's on the page and
finally there is the viewer who experiences it. All three may have dramatically different interpretations and
meanings to the movie itself.
I can write fiction but I write slow. Again, my writing muscle has atrophied from sitting in a cubicle for so
long. I'll continue to do both, work with Vicky and film my own stories when I think they are suitable for
What is your opinion on the state of horror films today?
In terms of episodic television, I think it is the best it has ever been. The Walking Dead, American Horror
and even Bates Motel have given the genre new life and new fans. In terms of films, I think you have to
look around to find the good stuff. I can't remember the last time I went to the theatre specifically for a
horror movie. I think it was Cabin in the Woods. Meh. "Ghost movies" as a sub genre of horror has been
dominated by the Paranormal Activity series. I did like part two, I will admit. There is a director named Ti
West whose movies I have enjoyed. He's old school, obviously someone who grew up watching 1980s
horror flicks. I like his work.
Do you fear being typecast as a horror director?
Well, I'm more typecast in my own circle of friends and family as the resident boxing or sport expert. It
depends. I did have someone say that they saw this really scary and disturbing movie and it made them
think of me. I wasn't sure how to feel about that, lol. I fear typecast as being a cubicle jockey, you know,
just another dude in the office working his forty years than thrown into the senior center.
"The Chills" deals with paranormal phenomena. Are you a believer in that kind of stuff?
No. Was always a skeptic at a young age but there was this one ghost movie that scared the crap out of
me when I was a id. There was one where this gypsy woman casts a spell on these three dudes and for
some reason it gave me nightmares. I am still trying to find out the name of the damn thing because no
one remembers it, it was on Creature Features way back in the day. But, no, in real life, I don't give
credence to paranormal phenomena of any type. The idea of it though makes it great fodder for horror
films. I have had, however, interesting conversations with seemingly normal people who insist they've
experienced the supernatural.
As a side note, however, I remember an instance with my family. It was in 1987 , one of my uncles had his
own paranormal activity going on. His wife had just died and he had "faces" appear on his wooden door.
These faces were demonic, one was a skeleton, three or four others looked like demonic
gargoyles...These faces were ingrained in the wood of the door....the facial formations were in the grain of
the wood. Now I know about all of the instances where people think they see Mary or Jesus or their Aunt
Martha in instances of pareidolia. But in those cases, there is just one face or instance of it. This door had
multiple instances of it. Now was this a case of faux finishing? I can say yeah, of course but he lived there
for several years and only just noticed it after his wife died tragically. And the faux finisher would have to
have been a damn good artist. My uncle really wasn't into chopping into the door and investigating for
authenticity. If I recall correctly, he wrote scripture on a piece of paper and pasted it over the faces. Then
he tore down the door and burned it, lol.
Yeah. Again, he was totally creeped out by it so I really don't bring it up nowadays. It would have been
great to take pictures and video of it though. Opportunity wasted for a million youtube views, haha.
So what is next for Poche Pictures? More horror? More ghost movies?
Have to reassess now that I have been laid off from the cubicle. I got laid off last month after 23 years on
the job. I worked at the same place since I was 17 years old. Because of the day job I have not had
opportunity really pursue filmmaking full time. And the day job, quite frankly, had subsidized the movie
efforts. Now the movies have to subsidize themselves. It is a challenge but now that I can pursue things full
time who knows what new projects will emerge. Right now, I am looking at doing different *mash-ups*, I
want to fuse horror with science fiction or horror with film noir. Maybe re-do an old public domain film noir
and put vampires in it. Or do a fan film about Michael Myers battling Batgirl or Catwoman. Those are just
ideas that I come up on a daily brainstorming basis. I brainstorm and brainstorm until I have that one idea
that won't go away and that will be the project that will be next.