Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016) Movie Review

After months of waiting and keeping tabs, I finally got to see Blood Moon Pictures’ Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, the second part to last year’s award winning horror anthology, Volumes of Blood. The movie made its debut on October 29, 2016, to a packed house at the Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky. Many of the cast and crew were there for the film’s release, including producers PJ Starks and Eric Huskisson, director Nathan Thomas Milliner, actors Moses Moseley, Julie Streble, Barbie Clark and Warren Ray, among many others. So what’s the big deal, you ask? Check out this trailer to see why I was so excited.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever moved into a new home. Now, think back about the first day you moved in to your fresh abode. Remember all of the random things left behind by the previous tenants… maybe some cleaning supplies, an old blanket, or even a single mousetrap. I bet you’ve never thought about what those things were used for before they were left behind by their last owners, have you?

Think about it. Is it possible that those cleaning supplies were used by a woman to poison her cheating husband? Or could that raggedy old blanket have been keeping a nameless teenage runaway warm during her captivity by a drooling pervert? What if that mousetrap was instrumental in the torture of a naked Mob bookie who couldn’t come up with the funds to pay off a bet? Even the most innocent item can be used for nefarious purposes. Who really knows what went on in your house before you moved in?

The crew behind Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories know, and they want to share that info with you. In seven separate yet intertwining tales, this bloody and horrific anthology goes above and beyond, linking each short together meticulously with a wraparound story that ties it all up into a neat and nasty little bow. The film is filled with nods to other classic horror movies – props, mentions and even the characters’ names – as well as posters from some of the crew members’ previous works, like Plank Face, Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street, and The Barn. There’s a ton of jokes that recall the first film – most notably the slaughter of the film crew during the shoot for Dewey Deathmal System. The dialogue is hilarious and, dare I say, better than the first film. The whole thing starts with the coolest WARNING intro I’ve ever seen:

vob-warning

 

In this go ’round, the directors include Milliner, Sean Blevins, John William Holt, Jon Maynard, Justin Seaman and James Treakle, while the script itself was written by Starks, Blevins, Milliner and Jason Turner. Starks, Huskisson, David Justice and Devin Taylor (who plays the original real estate agent) produced. Cassandra Baker did the splattery, visceral special effects for Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, a job that she dove into with both feet, bringing about results that were glorious and gory. The film is dedicated to Wes Craven, Angus Scrimm, Hershell Gordon Lewis and Gunnar Hansen in the most bittersweet way, giving mention to some of the horror legends that have passed away all too recently.

In the first short, titled Murder Death Killer that was directed by Milliner, rock and roll meets country as Vallie (Clark) and Dick (Ray) meet up with Mr. Dawson (Thomas Dunbar) to rob what looks like a plumbing warehouse. Dawson is anxious to leave before Atticus Crowe (Aric Stanish) shows up, which leads to the exposition part of our story where he tells the couple the tale of poor Atticus Crowe, who had tried to form a union in the warehouse, got himself killed and was used by the boss, Mr. Crenshaw, as a scarecrow in his fields. You can see where this is going, and it does so with aplomb. We see a few nods to classic horror movies, like a hockey mask and a dead body strung up like a scarecrow in Children of the Corn. This was a fun short with some inventive kills that started the blood flowing freely and heavily in Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories.

Suddenly its 2019 and we’re now watching the movie Murder Death Killer in the theater during Starks’ short, called Haters. Two loud mouth guys (Kevin Roach, Milliner) get kicked out of the movie by a wound up usher (Gerrimy Keiffer) who has eyebrow issues. These two are the epitome of horror movie lovers, arguing over old horror vs. new, reboots vs. originals – “They Rob Zombie’d the shit out of him!” – and classics vs. memories – “You, my friend, are a victim of nostalgia blindness.”

They also talk about how the crew from the movie Dewey Deathmal System 2 was slaughtered by a serial killer before they could wrap filming, yet the film was finished and now available to watch. Before they can start watching it, there’s a knock at the door… This was my absolute favorite short of the seven. The dialogue is absolutely hilarious and meta, which I love. You’ll notice the killer’s mask looks familiar – it’s also from Volumes of Blood. Be prepared to see it more than once in Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. The deaths were nothing special but I loved the twist. I wish I could have heard more movie arguments from these two. They were the perfect horror fans.

haters-2
What do you mean, you don’t like remakes?

Trick or Treat, which is actually the beginning of Dewey Deathmal System 2 (the movie within the movie in Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories), was directed by Blevins. It’s 2015 on Halloween night. Library security guard Chad (Chad Benefield) is hanging out with his girl, Mallory (Shelby Taylor Mullins), who really wants him to meet her little brother. Unfortunately for her, he gets a text calling him into work saying that there’s an intruder at the library, and that there’s blood everywhere. He leaves. After watching a news report on the library slaughter, Mallory hears a knock at the door and she thinks Chad is back, but it’s actually a strange man in a hood (Chad Ray) who asks her, “Trick or Treat?” She says, “Treat?” shrugs and shuts the door. But what kind of treat does he have for her? This was also a great short. The main kill was epic – my favorite one of the whole movie – and I loved the tie-in to the rest of the stories.

The next short, A Killer House, is the wraparound story that plays out for much of the rest of the film’s two hour runtime. It was directed by Treakle and takes place on New Years’ Day in 2016. Real estate agent Mr. Stine (Christopher Bower) is taking married couple Ash (Jacob Ewers) and Laurie (Erin Troutman) on a tour of a house they’re looking at buying. As they go from room to room, different histories of the home are shown. The place where this story finally ends up is miles away from where it started, and I loved every minute of it.

Mallory is back for Holt’s Feeding Time, although now it’s the previous Thanksgiving. Boone (Caleb Shore), an insurance salesman with a heart of gold, has one last chance to make a sale before his boss, Mr. Craven (Jim O’Rear), fires him. When he stops by Mallory’s (Mullins) house to try and sell her some insurance, she’s crying. Apparently her parents are missing and there’s a monster in her closet. She begs him to kill the monster, even offering to have sex with him in exchange. Resigned to be eternally nice, Boone says he’ll settle for a high five. “It’s a fricking monster! It’s worth way more than a high five!” When he investigates, he finds way more than he had ever expected. I like the way this short was set up, never really showing the killer’s face in detail. It made it all the more freaky knowing I don’t really have a clue what they look like.

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Father’s Day in 2011 is a Blood Bath for the tale directed by Maynard. All Andrew (Kevin Arnold) wants to do is join his wife, Sara (Bridget Michelle Hoover), in the shower in an attempt to make their first baby. When she mentions him taking his meds, however, he hems and haws about it until he realizes that the shower is suddenly deathly quiet. When he checks behind the curtain, his wife is gone and in her place is a bloody monstrosity demanding more carnage. He may be hallucinating, but just in case, invites his buddy, Steven (Moses Moseley), in and confesses that he thinks his tub may have eaten his wife. This story wasn’t as strong as the first ones in the series, although I did like the parting shot.

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories‘ Christmas short is called Fear, For Sinners Here, and was also directed by Milliner. On Christmas Eve in 2008, a tense, agitated woman named Carol (Jessica Schroeder) is wrapping toys to put beneath her family tree, writing the tags out to Joey. The house is silent but for holiday songs spinning on a record player. The first knock on the door brings some Dickensian Christmas carolers, but the second knock comes from a hooded woman (Julie Streble) who stands on Carol’s front porch, singing all alone. This is no ordinary wassailer, however. This woman has a bone to pick with Carol and has come armed with sharpened candy canes to get her point across. Although this short dragged a bit in the beginning, I didn’t see the twist coming and I was left surprised at how much I liked this story.

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The last but certainly not least story in this collection of tales is The Deathday Party, directed by Seaman. On March 25, 2006, John (Jay Woolston) and his wife, Almeda (Cindy Maples), are getting ready to celebrate his birthday when their annoying neighbors, Fred (Huskisson) and Nancy (Anne Walsh), stop by. At first, John and Almeda are irritated with the interruption, but then they decide to incorporate the neighbors into their festivities. This story was full of Over The Hill jokes that got a bit stale, but it was still a fun romp through the evils of middle age.

Final Thoughts:

I thought Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories was an excellent sophomoric effort from the guys and gals that brought us Volumes of Blood. The stories were fresh and intricately tied together. There are so many things to see and notice, especially for those of us who have already seen the first film. If you’re a fan of indie horror, then this movie will be right up your alley. There didn’t seem to be as much blood and gore this time, but I’m not one to let that keep me from thoroughly enjoying a flick. When I had first heard of Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, I was actually in the middle of buying a house. I couldn’t help but think of Starks and his crew as I sifted through the detritus that was left by my new house’s former owners. Sure, this place is new to me, but what happened before I got here?

By the way, keep watching during the credits for one more surprise. You won’t be disappointed.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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