Category Archives: American Indie
*FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION*
From writer/directors Jeremy Scoggins and Matthew Hibbs and Executive Producer P.J. Starks (Volumes of Blood) comes the next generation of super heroes.
The Trio: Knightmare, Dreamcatcher, and Anarchy-X, three ordinary people, called upon to be the vigilante heroes of a city wrought with dark secrets. Plagued with their own personal demons, they bring it upon themselves to become the saviors in a thankless city. Under the watchful eye of their mentor Chronos, who harbors a past of darkness himself, the Trio wages a war on the villains of the city. The sadistic drug lord Animus holds grip on the underworld, while Persephone Masters, a crafty and powerful politician, sits on high in the city and hires the cold and calculating assassin, Strife, to eliminate anyone who stands in her way. The villains play River City like their own personal chess game with the veiled and mysterious Cryofire corporate power quietly plotting all the moves. With the Trio holding on to what justice there is left in the city, they are faced with unexpected challenges both within themselves and throughout the streets as they set about hunting down the men and women who have corrupted their city.
In a city where crime seeps from its pores, the victims must become the answer to their own prayers.
Production Company: Hive Mind Studios
Starring: Jeremy Scoggins, Louisa Torres, Derreck Fraser, Markus Porter, Kevin Arnold, Jeremiah Hinson, Jaron Scoggins.
You too can help stop evil by contributing to the cause!
Are we all getting a little tired of anthologies by now? ABC’s of Death and V/H/S’s all over the place? Yeah? Well, screw them, watch this and have your faith in the anthology genre restored. Volumes of Blood doesn’t just wipe the floor with those two, it wipes the floor with blood (and brains…and guts…and stuff…) and remains wickedly funny throughout.
Volumes of Blood is a super indie collaborative effort out of Kentucky that involved almost 150 people (I believe – correct me if I’m wrong, P.j.!), which is pretty amazing in and of itself. MY last indie project, I was acting, co-directing, holding a boom AND getting coffee, lol. Ah….movie making….I can’t remember the last time I saw an indie look this good though, particularly a lo-budget one. “Misty! Stop talking about behind the scene crap and tell us what happens ON screen!” Yeah, yeah, I hear you…
Urban legends is what we have here, guys and gals. But not those silly old boring urban legends we’ve all heard a MILLION times before (no Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary here!). No, we get new urban legends, entirely made up as the film progresses. I have to admit to being a sucker for urban legends because really they’re nothing more than modern fairy tales and my fascination & study of fairy tales is a lifelong thing (that I’m going to refrain from babbling on about – see I can be good). And the legends here have some unique modern spins indeed. From demonic energy drinks to learning lessons about playing pranks to satanic encyclopedias (c’mon, this NEVER ends well!) to ghostly visitors who like to tease…you’ll have a blast from beginning to end.
What’s more is that all the effects are PRACTICAL effects which absolutely makes me shiver with delight. It’s that absolutely brilliant old-school style with just a hint of a lovely Troma-esque influence….*sighs*…..Especially the end….oh the end…There should have been more blood and gore. Yeah. Maybe that’s my one complaint. MORE of this, please!! So those of you who are into that too will def get a kick out of this one.
There’s also some really good acting going on here. Not gonna lie – sometimes grabbing your friends up to make a movie means not so wonderful acting. Just the truth. But here? Nah. These guys are GOOD. There were a couple of people who only had a line here or there that were a little stiff but all the characters that were essential held my attention and sold it. TOTES. This is even better when you know that a good portion of things were improv.
And ya know what? If I STILL haven’t managed to convince you, I’ll just let my favorite line of the movie do it.
“Learn how to die or start making Christian films!”
P.S. Check ’em out on Facebook!
The latest issue of Rogue Cinema is here and you KNOW you’re dying to read it…so what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?? Sorry, I don’t have any of those. I can give you a preview of the issue though! Inside this month, you’ll find great articles on awesome films like these (and TONS more)!
Awhile back I did an interview with my friend P.j. about his upcoming horror anthology, Volumes of Blood, and lo and behold the premiere is finally upon us! I, for one, am super excited about this (even if I can’t go to the premiere because distance). I think the anthology is going to be pretty cool though and I’m excited to see it when it gets a wider release. P.j. sent me this teaser short to give you guys a taste of what’s to come, so enjoy!
“Kevin Smith has always been a huge inspiration for me, so I made the decision to create my own universe around Volumes of Blood. This is just the first online short in that mission. The Preylude shows you how one of the characters from the film gets into the situation we find her in, in the film. There’s no real pay off, because the conclusion follows through in the motion picture that releases on Friday the 13th this month at the Owensboro Convention Center. Tickets are only $5 and all proceeds go to a local charity. Doors open at 7 pm. It’s gonna be a great time for a good cause.” ~P.j. Starks
If you want to learn more, check out the Volumes of Blood Facebook page!
Today’s the day of turkey and gratefulness and to combine these two things, I’m sharing one of my favorite Thanksgiving movies – Thankskilling!! There’s nothing better than a homicidal turkey and topless Pilgrims on Thanksgiving, so I suggest you give Thankskilling a view after you’ve killed your turkey dinner. Heh. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!
If you’ve been a reader of this site for awhile, then there are at least three things you know about me: 1) I love horror 2) I’m a pretty big and pretty dedicated fan of Jeremiah Kipp’s work and 3) I am a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. At least, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of Poe before (my memory is just the worst…). I started reading dear old Poe when I was 8 (not sure why my parents allowed that but hey, it gave me my first foray into horror lit and into the horror genre itself!) and “The Cask of Amontillado” was always my favorite. Something about being walled up for eternity just totally creeped me out (that 8 year old imagination probably came into wicked play there…). My friend, Jeremiah, has taken one of Poe’s short stories “Berenice” and turned into an deliciously creepy short film. It’s his little piece of the upcoming horror anthology Creepers, debuting on Blu-ray and VOD on October 7.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, as I was (and thank goodness I didn’t read this one as a child, is all I gotta say), there once was a boy named Edward who had a lovely cousin named Berenice (names updated for our modern audience) who came to live with him and his parents. Edward (Thomas Mendolia) is a bit awkward and obsessive compulsive. He has to turn lamps on a certain number of times and tinkers with small mechanical parts at his desk, alone in his room. Social he is not. Then along comes Berenice (Cheryl Koski) who is everything Edward is not – sociable, graceful, roaming carelessly through life. Except there’s a catch. Isn’t there always? Berenice is ill, dreadfully ill, with a mysterious malaise that we, at best, know causes seizures. And then there’s Edward’s mother (Susan Adriensen), who while being a bit of a stiff actress, manages to be absolutely terrifying. I’ve no idea if she’s in love with her son or just extremely overprotective and overpowering but I would not cross that woman. Edward’s father (Bob Socci) is rather unassuming, although he too comes off as a bit stiff. Edward is eventually told that he must be the one to take care of Berenice as she worsens, which he seems to be fine with as he’s seemingly…charmed by her, shall we say? And from there, I’ll let you either watch the film or go hunt down the story because what happens next is at times gruesome and then creepy.
Is the film good? You betcha. Thomas and Cheryl both embody their characters in such a way that it’s almost painful to watch – which in this particular story is a good thing. I’m far from being squeamish but there were a couple of scenes here that made me squirm just a bit (although it has been a rather long time since I’ve watched anything other than a tv show binge on Netflix…maybe that’s why…). And the ending? It’s not even the ending actually; it’s just the last final shot that got me. *shudders* Pure cinematic horror goodness right there.
If you love Poe, if you’ve liked my reviews of Jeremiah’s other works, if you just like short horror films done well and if you like horror anthologies (cause I hear the other parts are pretty kickawesome as well!), then check out “Berenice” and Creepers on October 7th!
So I got word of this very cool sounding project happening in KY right now and was able to snag one of the main guys (producer, co-writer and co-director), P.j., and convince him to do an interview with me. And by “convince”, I totes mean I tied him up in the basement till he answered my questions. TOTES. So here it is, all the scoop on the upcoming horror anthology (yay for horror anthologies! I have a soft spot in my heart for them), Volumes of Blood.
ML: Volumes of Blood is an Unscripted Film School (UFS) project. Can you explain what exactly the Unscripted Film School is, what it does and how long it’s been around?
P.j.: The Unscripted Film School program is something I co-created with Jim Blanton at the Daviess County Public Library. It’s an opportunity for interested locals to come participate in a hands on filmmaking session with local and regional talent. They have a chance to see what it takes and the various facets associated with making an indie film from special FX to cinematography to acting and directing. We tried it out on a smaller scale in January 2015 and premiered both short films at the Unscripted 3 film series to a lot of praise. Lucky, the Audience Award winning short, has gone on to get some great reviews and screen across the country in film festivals. Because of its success we decided to ramp up the program and do something wholly different and more expansive.
ML: This will be the second film for UFS. The first was a short called Lucky by Todd Martin. But this will be the first full length feature (although an anthology)? How is the process different from making a short to making a feature film?
P.j.: With the first film school program, the basic idea was like the 48 Hour Film Fest, only you’re shooting a short in 7.5 hours instead. Lucky gave us a chance to see the true potential of the program and Jim asked me to come up with some ideas on how to really expand the program. Rather than shoot one or two shorts, we’re now shooting 5 over the course of 4 months and instead of it being a competition, 5 different directors are working on what will be become a single project created from 5 different perspectives.
ML: The screenplay for Volumes of Blood is written by yourself, Todd Martin and Nathan Thomas Milliner. How did the idea come about? Was it something you purposely set out to do or was it a lucky accident?
P.j.: I knew I wanted there to be 5 short films. I already had been sitting on some ideas so I wrote the first three scripts, but I knew that I didn’t want to be the only writer for the anthology. I love to collaborate. Todd is a great writer and I contacted him to see if he wanted to come back for another stint with the Unscripted Film School 2. He accepted and the only stipulation I gave him was that one of the two stories he wrote had to be titled “Encyclopedia Satanica” because it’s such a badass title. I didn’t have a story, just a name. Todd got back to me with a couple scripts and I really dug what he wrote. Nathan has been a friend of mine for a while now and I asked him to come onto the project as a director. He chose “Encyclopedia” as his script and then did a pass on it. He added in a lot of cool literary elements and things that took the overall story to another level. Because of that he earned a writers credit as well.
ML: The logline reads “Five tales of dread interwoven when a sociology student gathers several of his friends at the local library to help him create a new urban legend with deadly consequences”, which honestly intrigues me because it reminds me of: 1) the movie Urban Legend; 2) the amazing episode of Buffy -“Conversations with Dead People” and 3) the V/H/S films oh, and 4) one of my all-time favorites Trick’r’Treat. Was Volumes of Blood inspired by any of these (probably not the Buffy episode, eh)? And if not what WAS the inspiration?
P.j.: It’s been pretty incredible the various different films that have come to light since I started this. I’m huge on writing homages to other films because for one I’m a big old school horror fan, and two I think that writing nuances into your stories are these great little moments for fans to grasp hold of a long the ride. I’ve wanted to do an anthology for a few years now and it just seemed like the right time. There are several inspirations and nods in Volumes of Blood that range from Friday the 13th and Insidious to more forgotten horror fare like After Midnight and He Knows You’re Alone. I’ve always been a fan of October and Halloween so several stories revolve around that time of year so I guess you can say that Trick ‘R Treat had some influence as well.
ML: Can you tell us what will be involved with these five tales? For example, will one be a ghost story and another full of zombies? Or is this a less supernatural film?
P.j.: I don’t want to give too much away but being a child of 80’s horror I can tell you that the film runs the horror sub-genre gamut. There will be ghosts, monsters, masked killers and possessed books so there’s a little something for every horror fan out there.
ML: Who is starring in your film? Have you hired only locals or did you expand your search?
P.j.: I expanded my search, but did cast a lot of actors that I had worked with before like Todd Reynolds (Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street) and Louisa Torres (Lucky). This go around I reached out to several actors I’ve either wanted to work with for a while or worked with on others projects like Jason Crowe (The Hospital), Roni Jonah (The Zombie Movie), Jim O’Rear (The Hospital), Kevin Roach (Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh), Kristine Farley (Bloody Hooker Bang Bang) and a whole slew of others. I’m really excited about the cast.
ML: Tell us a bit about the filming process. You’re filming one Saturday a month till it’s finished, correct? Has that streamlined the filming process? Do you think it would have been easier to shoot it over 5 consecutive days? Why draw it out?
P.j.: Because of the way the film school program is structured we need to have time between each film to give the community a chance to sign up to participate on each film. We’re allowing ten each, fifty in all once the project has completed shooting in November. This has streamlined things because it allows us a chance to regroup before the shoots since everyone is working with a different director each time and experiencing a completely different vision from the last. Plus, everyone on board this project is volunteering their time and it just makes sense to shoot it this way to make sure everyone is available to do their job. I myself had a full time job and a family so shooting 5 consecutive days is just not in the cards for me and I wouldn’t expect it to be for anyone else. Drawing out the process also gives me a chance to sit down and start editing the shorts to try and have one finished before the next begins. That way when the final night of production comes the movie will be nearly completed.
ML: When will Volumes of Blood be released and where will people be able to view and purchase it?
P.j.: I’m huge into gimmicks so the film will have an Owensboro, Kentucky premiere on Friday, March 13, 2015 at the Owensboro Convention Center. It will be hosted by 97X and The Boiler Room, who will also host an exclusive after party. The event itself will be a charity event where all proceeds will be donated to New Beginnings Sexual Assault Services. After that it’ll hopefully be coming to a film festival near you and the DVD release will be before December of next year.
ML: You funded this project via Kickstarter. Was that your first experience with crowd sourcing? Would you recommend it for up and coming directors? What advice would you give them on how to go about using this resource?
P.j.: This was the first time I ever truly begged for money, yes. Outside from family that is. Crowd funding is a weird and stressful thing. If it all works out in the end then the journey was well worth all the sweat and tears, but I can’t imagine spending sixty days struggling to reach our goal and not walking away with something because it wasn’t fulfilled. I mean potato salad got funded for like eighty gazillion dollars and we made our budget because of the support of nearly a hundred individuals and the skin of our teeth no less. It was an amazing feeling when we reached the goal and ultimately the project was 107% funded. I would recommend giving it a try, but prepare to work really hard to get what you want and don’t be afraid to get annoying.
ML: What’s next for UFS and Verite? :)
P.j.: Right now we’re reviewing submissions for Unscripted 4 that will start in January 2015 and go every Saturday until the last weekend in February. As far as Verite Cinema is concerned, I honestly can’t see anything beyond Volumes of Blood right now… except Volumes of Blood 2 of course.
A huge thanks to P.j. for sitting down to do this interview (as if he really had a choice, hehe. No, but seriously. I am sorry about the basement thing). If you want to become a fan of Volumes of Blood, like me, give ’em a “like” over on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for all the latest news!
Lone is singer Chelsea Wolfe’s first film, one that combines her music and the artistic expression of filmmaking to create a visually wild ride. Directed by Mark Pellington and based around Wolfe’s album “Pain is Beauty”, the film is a series of vignettes and images interlocked with five songs from the aforementioned album. The combination creates a dreamlike landscape littered with beauty and horror.
I won’t lie – I was wary at first as the viewer is essentially watching an hour long music video and I wasn’t entirely sure that was going to work. But unlike standard music videos, this one manages to tell a story without telling a story, leaving the interpretation entirely up to you. While it may not work for some, it worked for me. And what a story it is – encompassing love, beauty, pain, horror, death, life, destruction, nature and everything in between. A story created with viscerally stunning images that vary from filling one with longing to filling one with uneasiness and a story that includes a plethora of people. A particular repeating image that stuck out to me was people wearing animal masks – I feel like I’ve seen this a lot lately, mostly in the horror genre. I’m not sure if this was their way of introducing horror into the framework of the story here or not but it was really the only imagery that felt to me to be a bit of an overused trope.
Wolfe herself has a haunting voice and her songs are raw, only serving to amp up the imagery that we’re seeing. While the songs are the focus, there is a bit of dialogue, mostly repeated phrases such as “I’m not afraid to remember.” and “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I’m not sure which five songs from the album were used, as I’m not familiar with Wolfe or her work outside of this film, but she’s definitely garnered a new fan by using this medium.
Pellington’s direction is, at times, brilliant. Besides all the emotions and elements he combines, he also combines his original imagery with what appears to be old home movies and stock footage of natural disasters. The overall affect is a film that will stick with you long after you’ve finished watching.
Some of you are familiar with P.j. Starks, some of you are not. But either way, he’s a pretty cool guy who does a lot of fairly cool stuff when it comes to movies. And he just released one of his films online, finally, for the entire world to see. I haven’t had a chance to watch this one yet but hope to soon. It’s only 19 minutes or so, so head on over and check it out!
Hmmm…what to say about Episode 50? Fair to middling, I guess best sums it up. There’s nothing new here, nothing shocking but as far as acting and story goes, this is a quick, easy pill to swallow.
We start out rather cutely with a TV crew of paranormal investigators investigating a couple’s house. My favorite part here is, when hunting around for the ghost, the husband is carrying a hammer (as if that’s going to do any good) and then accidentally beams his wife in the head. The next shot is her with a bandage and black eye. I know, I know, I shouldn’t laugh just the way they do it was hysterical (I’m also a little lacking in sleep though…).
The paranormal investigators aren’t your usual type – they’re there to explain away all these occurrences through natural means. One, mice are setting off the fancy equipment other paranormal investigators sold these people and two, hubby is a slob and has left open not only paint cans downstairs but also things like coolants which are creating fumes throughout the house which in turn makes the couple dizzy, nauseous, etc. And this is how we see an episode of the paranormal investigators t.v. show.
Next up is some dying guy who owns an abandoned asylum that’s supposed to be one of the most haunted places ever. He hires our paranormal team to spend the weekend at the asylum because (at least as far as I can tell) if they find something paranormal, then he’ll be a ghost. If they debunk everything there, then he’s going to spend eternity in Hell. Um, k…
Unfortunately, our paranormal team has to also work with a Christian paranormal team (which is new to me – I didn’t think the Christian religion was big on the paranormal but maybe that was just my church) who are there to PROVE that the place IS haunted.
Of course since we’ve got two paranormal teams in an insanely haunted asylum, things go pretty much straight to hell but it’s with very little blood or violence. There’s no chills or scares here, just your standard “made ya jumps” and ghostly ghastly quick moving women. And then it gets a little cheesy at the end.
It doesn’t suck but it’s nothing special either – silly fun if you’re in a crowd that scares easily.