Anthology films are fun. Period. There is just something about them that I love emmensionly. Maybe it’s the fact that it doesn’t give you time to be bored and the stories work quick to deliever the goods. There is no messing around with an anthology film and I’m happy to report that Volumes of Blood doesn’t mess around. It sets up the scenario to tell the tales and gets right to the goods. Piling on twists and turns and copious amounts of wonderful, wonderful gore, Volumes of Blood has me grinning.
Directed by: Jakob Bilinski, Nathan Thomas Milliner, John Kenneth Muir, P.J. Starks and Lee Vervoort.
Written by: Todd Martin, Nathan Thomas Milliner and P.J. Starks
Starring: Jason Crowe, Roni Jonah, Alexandria Hendrick, Garret Smith, Louisa Torres, Jim O’Rear, Todd Reynolds, Jordan Phillips, Elissa Grant, Louisa Torres, Kristine Renee Farley, Kevin Roach
A sociology student gathers several friends at the local library on Halloween night to help him create a new urban legend with deadly consequences; Lily is in for a late night of researching and needs something to keep her going. It isn’t until she’s approached by a stranger that her luck may change – for the worse; a typical night of work for a librarian becomes a classic ghost story with a modern twist. Sometimes you can’t keep a bad book down; Sidney is allowed to stay after hours to study for a test. It’s not until she awakens in the darkened library that she realizes the truth of what lurks among the books after midnight. She better pray she doesn’t become the prey; Paige faces regrets that she’d do anything to take back. When an ancient and arcane spell book falls into her lap, she decides to make a grave decision. Be careful what you wish for, it might just kill you.
Before we break down each story in this pretty damn good movie, let’s give a super quick back story on the film itself. Volumes of Blood brings together 5 independent horror directors, which was a collaboration with Daviess County Public Library and Verite Cinema, known as Unscripted Film School. Their website says participants will receive hands on experience with the various facets of independent film making, covering everything from cinematography to special effects. Honestly, this sounds like an awesome time and I wish something like this was around where I live. Anyway, enough of the back story, let’s dive into each tale.
First up, we have the wrap around story that ties everything all together. Titled That’s a Wrap, a student who is studying urban legends (doesn’t that sound like the best damn class ever) gathers a group of friends at the local library to come up with fives tales to hopefully spread as real urban legends. Of course, this wouldn’t be a horror movie if there wasn’t a few twists and come the end, a twist is what you get. I won’t go into details about it, but I can tell you it’s both equal parts hilarious and gory. Special shout out goes to Special Effects Artist Lisa Duvall for doing an outstanding job on the blood and guts of the project.
The first urban legend to be told is called A Little Pick Me Up and it’s a quick little story and one that seems to echo Tales from the Crypt the most in its style. In fact, it echo’s it so much, one of the actors references Tales after the story is told. These little horror nods is actually something you’ll notice throughout the entire movie. Classic and obscure slashers are mentioned left right and center and little Easter eggs litter each story. You can have a blast just watching and seeing what you can find. (That Friday the 13th inspired opening alone was worth the price of admission.) Okay, back to the first story. Alexandria Hendrick plays a college girl who is dead tired and must try to stay awake so she can write her paper, Up pops a mysterious man, offering her a energy drink that will blow her mind. Like most smart people, she refuses to accept a drink from some sleazy looking bald dude, who roams the library late at night. However, temptation becomes too much and she takes a drink. Let’s just say the story ends with a bang. This tale is short and sweet and doesn’t waste time getting to the good stuff. I wouldn’t exactly call it a good urban legend tale, but it was still a lot of fun and for that I commend Director John Kenneth Muir and Writer Todd Martin.
The second legend is called Ghastly and it’s shot entirely in black and white, with no speaking what so ever. It’s your standard ghost story, but sadly it tries it’s damnedest to scare, but resorts to cliché jump scare sounds and that’s about it. There wasn’t much to be frightened about with this tale, but I will tell you the make-up work on the ghost is pretty cool. Accolades are given to both the actor, Jordan Heath Phillips and Director P.J. Starks for making the entire short with no speaking. Mr. Phillips had to give 100% to the role to convey being scared and he does a damn fine job.
The third tale, titled 13 After Midnight, directed by Jacob Bilinski and written by P.J. Starks would probably work the best for an urban legend. It’s not completely over the top and honestly, I could see it really happening. Billed as a monster story, some twists and turns however reveal a much more shocking story. This one I ended up really enjoying, as I do love a twist, epecially a dark and depressing one. Although, I admit it was fairly easy to see it coming. I will congratulate both Paige Ward and Grant Niezgodski on doing a damn fine job at their roles and Tony McKee on some ear pleasing music.
The last story to be told proudly invokes the saying ‘We’ve saved the best for last.’ Titled The Encyclopedia Satanica and directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner, who you may know as the guy who has worked on several Scream Factory covers, works up a spooky tale, full of heart and soul. The acting alone in this one is phenomenal, both from the beautiful lead actress Kristine Renee Farley and our villain Kevin Roach. There is one scene in particular involving a confrontation on a staircase, that just screamed The Shining to me and the actors give it their all and I applaud them for that. The story is short, simple and to the point. The cinematography is wonderful, with plenty of wide shots and close ups. Honestly, everything looks so damn good in this one. I’m not trying to put down anyone else’s work in this movie, but when I say this is the best of the lot, I really mean it.
Volumes of Blood is a fantastic independent affair. The directors give a 110% and it really comes through with each story. Each one has something special to show and the fourth tale, The Encyclopedia Satanica shines the brightest of the lot, with a story that screams quality. The ending of the movie is pretty freaking hilarious and graphic. Writer/Director P.J. Starks pops up at the end and he steals the show with an hilarious performance as an overbearing and honestly, asshole director. I would go into more detail with that memorable ending, but I would hate to ruin it for anyone that has yet to check out this great anthology film. Some of the stories might have a few small issues and there is one thread that I didn’t bother going in to detail about, but it’s left hanging at the end, which might annoy some. Overall though, I highly recommend giving Volumes of Blood a watch.