Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Horror: Richard Bates, Jr. "Excision"


Ever so often a film comes along that catches this writer by surprise, such is the case with "Excision" which I caught at Screamfest in Los Angeles, CA.

"Excision" is one of the most disturbing, yet honest horror films about misunderstood adolescence to come along in quite some time, with two great leading performances by Annalynne McCord as "Pauline" and Traci Lords as her Mother "Phyllis".

With an ending that leaves you speechless. Here to discuss "Excision" is the man behind the vision Richard "Ricky" Bates, Jr.

MS: After seeing "Excision" I really wanted to speak with you, I was not expecting what I saw, I was really blown away by it. The trailers lead you to believe it is more of a gore fest than it actually is, it's  actually a very intelligent movie.

RB: Anchor Bay who bought the movie said that selling it as a horror film was the only way to market it. I have not had any input in marketing it, other than the poster I did with Annalynne where she looks sort of like a Queen, Anchor Bay deemed to artsy for the DVD cover.

MS: Well the movie isn't exactly not horror, but the horror element is more psychological/disturbing than anything.

RB: Honestly 78% of my film influences in the movie are horror filmmakers.

Ricky (far right) and the cast of "Excision"

MS: One of the things that is fascinating about the film is Annalynne's character "Pauline" comes off as a misunderstood teenager in the beginning, she does not come off vile right away like she does as the story progresses. Traci's character comes off like a total bitch in the beginning and is someone you gain sympathy for as the story progresses.

RB: Yes, it really interesting watching this movie with parents and their children, it's like before you have children and see a Mom yelling at her kids and you think "God what a bitch". Then you have kids and you see a Mom yelling at her kids and you think "What did that little shit do"?

MS: I love the way you did not make "Pauline" an outright evil character.

RB: What I tried to do was balance her, I didn't want her to be too bad. I pulled her back a little bit, because I didn't want it to be a "F#$k You Mom" movie. I tried to make her confused about it all. Hopefully that translates.

MS: It did for me, and what's great about the ending is you do see it coming at some point, but it still has a strong impact.

RB: Yeah, it's not like there is a twist ending (laughs) it was the only way for me that the movie could end. It's funny when I made the short, the people who saw it were excited about the feature, they were like "I can't wait to see it, finally we get to see what happens after the garage scene". I'm thinking: "you are going to be sorely disappointed". (laughs) That's it, that's the end of the movie.

MS: In my opinion the ending was perfect.

Good Times
RB: Truly I would not know what to do past that, for me that's the end of the story. Traci and Annalynne really brought it that day. I think it helped that we shot that scene near the end of the shoot and they were so on the verge of killing me at that point. (laughs)

MS: Another interesting thing about "Excision" is how you cast everybody against type. For example I never thought Annalynne was a bad actress, but I did not know she could deliver the kind of performance she did as "Pauline".

RB: Yes, it's funny you should say that, so I told my Mom there was this actress, Annalynne McCord who wants to be in the movie, she said "The girl from 90210? Let me watch it and tell you what I think". she calls me the next day from West Virginia and says "Now honey I just don't know if she can pull it off". But I had seen interviews with Annalynne and spoke with her and knew she could do it, my goal was to cast against type, take a chance on actors since they were taking a chance on me. Plus I'm a young director and wanted to make a ballsy a statement "they're actors, it's not their job to be one type". It was a crazy experience dude shooting this thing, you have no idea.(laughs)

MS: Oh, I think I might. (laughs)

Ricky & "Excision"
RB: Dude, you know what I didn't tell you? Do you remember the cotillion scene when Annalynne sits next to that girl with the black glasses?

MS: Yes.

RB: That girl with the black glasses is the decoy girl on "To Catch A Predator". She is actually 28 years old and looks like she is 16! Annalynne and I were on her getting her autograph and grilling her about the show. She was the only one we were star struck over.

MS: That's funny! What inspired you to write "Excision"?

RB: I tried to make the most personal movie I could about growing up. When I was in the eighth grade I saw this movie called "Happiness" that inspired what I wanted people seeing "Excision" to experience as many extreme reactions as possible while watching it. Half of this movie is super personal kind of stuff about growing up in Virginia, me wanting to be a filmmaker and "Pauline" wanting to be a surgeon. I actually did have to go to cotillion with a cold sore on my face like "Pauline" did too, that was straight out of my life, but she does what I wanted to do, I wanted to kiss the chick, like she did to the guy with a cold sore on my mouth. This whole movie is very therapeutic for me. (laughs)

MS: Well Ricky you have a lot to live up to, what are your plans for a follow-up?

RB: I'm shooting it in March and right now it's called "The South Will Rise Again". It's a horror comedy , it's about a kid who moves to the big city and then has to move back home to the house he grew up in and live in his parents basement, but the house is now haunted. So, he, the punk rock chick from the bar and all the town weirdos get together and try to solve this mystery, it's like the "Goonies" on crack. (laughs)

Got something you want "excised"? Go to: http://excisionmovie.com/

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