Category Archives: Lo-Budget
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)!
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!
Party Slashers, written and directed by Carl Bachmann, is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to get this movie funded so I thought I’d share with all of you awesome people so we can continue to support indie film. The film is about a group of high schoolers who team up to survive a Halloween party crashed by undead mass murderers whom were accidentally summoned during a Dungeons & Dragons game. D&D, huh? I never realized what a dangerous game that was. ;)
They have a test scene up on Kickstarter and are rewarding backers custom Grindhouse posters featuring them in it, opportunities to get decapitated in the film, and other cool stuff. (Grindhouse posters? Kickawesome!!) Check out the trailer below and donate a bit if you’re able!
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!
Wild Girl Waltz is a hella fun movie about a day in the life of drugged up babes. Well, not THAT drugged up as they only have a pill of something each but ya know still. Up above you’ll find our gang – Angie, Brian and Tara. Tara and Brian are dating while Angie and Brian are brother and sister which sets up a really great group dynamic. And so our story begins with….
Poor Angie walking along the side of the road, only to have a truck drive by with a couple of guys in it who call her a whore and throw a milkshake all over her. Angie’s having kind of a bad day. She calls Tara to come pick her up and there is much mocking the entire time but eventually Tara tells Angie she has something that will make everything better. After getting Angie back home and showered and less of a sticky mess, Tara presents her with two overturned cups and tells her to pick one. Once Angie does, Tara reveals two pills that someone at work gave her and they each end up taking one even though neither knows what either pill is. Is this smart? Not really. But it makes for an entertaining watch. Meanwhile Brian, who was out yelling at some guy, comes home to find out he has to babysit two girls – one who appears to be on acid and the other who ends up being on ecstasy. He’s thrilled beyond belief, y’all. Thrilled, I say. ;)
What follows is simply one of those days where it’s the best day with your friends you ever had. Admittedly, some of this is funnier if you’ve ever taken drugs or on the flip side had the misfortune of being the sober one babysitting friends, but it’s just their journey to find beer, get pies, play on playgrounds, talk to turtles and watch the color trails.
While the movie starts out a little slow, it quickly picks up pace and the rest of the time goes by smoothly. There’s some nice exterior shots (although a tad bit too many at the beginning). The acting is great – it can be hard to act like you’re on drugs and make it convincing without going overboard and both actresses here (Christina Shipp and Samantha Steinmetz) take it just to the limit but never overdo it. I think my only complaint is that I didn’t really see what Brian yelling at the guy in the woods at the beginning of the film really had to do with anything else. It seemed a scene just designed to get him out of the house while the girls took the pills but it easily could’ve been left out as it didn’t relate to anything else and was never resolved.
Overall, a fun comedy, one I’d recommend for a Saturday night in.
Oh SyFy, are there even words to describe how much I adore your offerings? I’m not sure I can find just the right words to even begin to proclaim my love of your silly so silly and oh so fun movies. The latest being Blast Vegas, of course. *sighs* Such movie perfection. Such movie actors – Frankie Muniz (so THIS is where he went off to!) and Barry Bostwick (man, do I ever love you, Barry!!). Just *sighs*.
Seriously, though this movie is ALL sorts of cray cray fun! This group of college kids goes to Las Vegas on spring break, dragging along one Frankie Muniz and one Andrew Lawrence (and oh, did he ever get that cutie gene like his bros did!). Frankie’s all “I don’t want to be here” and “Who puts ketchup on a hot dog??” (is that a weird thing? I don’t eat hot dogs but I thought people DID put ketchup on them?). Meanwhile, they meet a group of girls including one Olive who was also dragged along and would rather be studying ancient history than partying. She and Frankie meet and it’s almost love at first sight. *le sigh*
And then you have Barry Bostwick as the gin loving, piano playing Vegas singer whose been around the block more than a few times.
But really our story starts with Phil, the SendEx guy who gets robbed and pistol whipped at the very beginning of the movie by two guys who want a precious piece of cargo he’s carting to one casino – an ancient sword. The robbing doesn’t go very well as once the pair of baddies start driving away, a dust storm tears them to pieces then dumps the sword right back by pistol whipped Phil, who apparently goes ahead and delivers it because next time we see it, it’s in said casino. Damn, those SendEx guys are good! Robbed, pistol whipped and you STILL manage to get your delivery in on time??
Next, comes our spring breakers and boys being boys, Andrew Lawrence and the gang, minus Frankie steal the sword and go stick it in the dirt out back. Now, did I mention this sword has an Egyptian curse attached to it?? But then, don’t they all? Anywho, sword in dirt, sword not come out of dirt, boys go back to partying. Boys not too bright.
What follows is an epic dust storm – actually a snakedustnado (a dust tornado made up of dust snakes) that wreaks havoc on Las Vegas while people die left and right and our spring breakers plus Barry look on in despair…will our gang survive? Will they be able to break the curse? Is it really and truly up to Frankie Muniz from “Malcolm in the Middle” to save the day???
Well, boys and girls, I guess you’ll just have to watch and see for yourself the epicness that is “Blast Vegas”! ;)
I have to admit to being a fan of this offering from Red Serial Films and Daniel Benedict. It’s def got an old school slasher feel to it with just the right amount of cheesy goodness to make it pretty damn fun for the whole family. Okay, well, not the whole family. Definitely don’t show this one to the kiddos!
Our story starts with an abused woman fighting with her husband and the whole thing just starts with a BAM! (picture that in comic book style writing, k?). Then we move on to a bunch of college age kids out at a bar for Halloween – we’ve got Dickface (whom I wanted to punch in the balls), his girlfriend, Sweetie and then Honeybee and her boyfriend, Ninja Turtle. No, of course those aren’t their real names in the film but we know how I like to name characters and make them my own. ;)
Honeybee and Ninja Turtle are pretty norms and a cute little couple. Dickface is cheating on his girlfriend and majorly abusive towards her verbally. Again, did I mention the ball punching I wanted to do? Anywho, they decide to leave the bar and on the way home stumble across this old boarded up former sex shop so of COURSE they just have to break in and see what it’s all about. Can’t blame them, I would’ve done the same thing.
Dickface drags Sweetie off so she can give him a bj while Honeybee and Ninja Turtle explore the rest of the place. And that is when the slasher fun begins. I am happy to report that Dickface is the first to die in an EPIC way that includes…well, you just have to see it. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. (Seriously, I hated this character SOOOO much. I was SOOOO happy when he died first!)
Obvis, as it’s a slasher movie, a whole bunch of other people die, so I’m not giving anything away there. There’s also a twist, I actually didn’t see coming, that had me say ‘Wait, what?????’, so that was fun. For such a lo-budget film, the special effects and gore are totally top notch. This is one of the goriest films I’ve watched in awhile (although I haven’t been watching a ton of movies, I know but still). And it seemed to be all old school effects so major ups for that shiz.
The acting varied. The majority of people were pretty good but there were definitely a couple of moments where I wondered if this was some of these guys first film. Nothing so atrocious that it totally took away from the overall effect, just a mild moment here and there where I went, “Huh.” And if it was their first film, then good for them because they picked an excellent one to be a part of.
So what can I say? I dug it, cheesy parts, gory parts, even the couple of parts that made me say “Hey, what?” because this right here is what true indie film is all about especially when it comes to horror. You go Daniel Benedict (writer/director/Dickface) and Red Serial. You guys are rocking it!