Category Archives: Homegrown Cinema
Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories
Holy fuck! Who’s that creepy motherfucker and what is he doing here?? Something tells me he wants to strangle me with my own intestines…which is VERY unhygienic, so EW. Or he could just be that guy from VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES, the sequel to the kickawesome VOLUMES OF BLOOD. Remember that one? An anthology, but a super fun one with lots of gory good times? (Just click the link if you need a refresher!) But we all know that the killer always comes back, no matter what, and we also know how it tends to go with the art of the sequel. So does VOLUMES OF BLOOD II hold up to the first? Hmmm…let’s take a look….
Our story starts with a heist. One that’s set in the middle of nowhere (maybe a farm?), which is the perfect place to die. It starts out well enough with three amigos heisting, shooting the shit, and telling spooky stories about the old place they’re stealing from (because one ALWAYS does that during a heist, duh). At least half of our opening story was filmed in apparent complete dark, however, so you’re going to have to rely on your ears big time here. BUT the kill scenes are nicely lit and so long as you get to see people die, I guess it’s all cool, right? (Huh. That last sentence doesn’t make me sound unbalanced at all. ;))
But WAIT, no, omg, guess what?? That whole time we were watching a movie!! I mean, obviously I was watching a movie but then I was watching people watching a movie! Ah, the old movie within a movie trick. (Thank you, CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI) Boy, did you get me. Then we’re off to…watch another movie? But first we need to time jump to the past? And then 20 minutes past the past? Then come back to here to watch the movie? (I think I got that order correct.) There were lots of random images being flashed about, so I wasn’t sure if we were going back to the library and following the immediate aftermath of the first film or if we were jumping into a, um, jumping into movies anthology. It turned out to be neither.
What happened next was an anthology wrapped around a house and the holidays – different holidays and a single house as the centerpiece. We get to experience Father’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, and so on and so forth. (We also get to experience the joys of house browsing!) As with most anthologies, certain pieces were better than others. My favorite story featured the girl above, a salesman, and Thanksgiving. It was incredibly atmospheric which helped lift it from the “oh yeah, I have a pretty good idea of how this ends” doldrums. The Christmas piece ended up being fairly good as well with its fun ending and an actress who was able to carry ~10 minutes of screentime alone (and mostly in silence). The downside was that this piece was much too long. I understand the time needed to build tension, to make the audience realize that something isn’t quite right, but it can be done in less time than this. (Also, my god, the freaking carols and Christmas music!!! BLEHCK. I hate this holiday so much.)
Overall though? First and foremost, VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES reminded me WAY too much of THE PERFECT HOUSE, which is also an anthology tied around a house in which a real estate agent is showing a young couple around. Secondly, it was much less cohesive than the first. This story didn’t flow as smoothly as the first did; didn’t tie together as well; didn’t make as much sense. Especially the ending. I still don’t know who the killer is or where he’s from or why he suddenly popped up and decided to kill every citizen of Owensboro. I also am unsure why there are now unseen forces (or people) seemingly commanding him to kill (not like voices in his head but legit “hey that’s an order!” commanding way). Maybe it’s all just meant to entice in case there’s a third film? I dunno, but I was not impressed. Thirdly, this sequel just wasn’t as much FUN as the first was. This film was really lacking the joy of the first (I know that sounds weird – joy in a horror flick? – but hear me out). The first film was clearly such a product of love and devotion and people were so obviously having a blast that it made the energy of the film into that too (despite the blood and gore ;)).
VOLUMES OF BLOOD II was definitely better LOOKING than the first – it looks like they had a larger budget this time around – but it was lacking. It was missing that joie de vivre and indie spirit, for whatever reason. It also didn’t stick together as well as the original – this one very much showed us that it had been stirred with several hands in the mixing bowl and it made for some lumpy spots.
Is it ultimately worth a watch? Yes. There are the couple of stories that are really enjoyable; there’s a nod to TRICK’R’TREAT (my favoritest anthology series EVER); and there are lots of gooey messes and intestinal effects that are all practical and not CGI. (Big props for the makeup team and fx guys! You guys are wicked awesome!) And, of course, if you’re a fan of the slasher genre, you may totally dig on this. Check out the trailer on the Facebook page and let me know what you think!
Neil Stryker & The Tyrant of Time
What madcap, steampunk, nonsensical adventure was this?? NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is like DOCTOR WHO on crack (and we all know that DOCTOR WHO is already on something, so hot damn!) and the result is absolutely GLORIOUS. Like, hi, move over Indiana Jones, a new action hero has stolen my heart – and he’s ridiculously emotionless, gravelly voiced and entirely capable of handling himself around robots (because YES, THERE ARE ROBOTS IN THIS MOVIE!!!). (And yes, I WILL apparently be using my caps lock key a lot.)
So Neil Stryker is a dude, on suspension from his job as…okay, I never really understood exactly what he did but kind of like the military + secret government operation + spies thing? Unfortunately for the world, Neil’s ex-mentor, the MAD scientist – complete with white lab coat, crazy sticky-uppy hair and crazy goggle glasses – has finally set in motion his dastardly plan to go back in time through the time portal he created to…steal a bunch of toys on Christmas Eve and have THE SEX (as E. would say) with Mrs. Claus! NOOOOO!!! Along the way, the mad scientist also kidnaps Neil’s son, so there’s that. Also the mad scientist is MAAADDDDD, which just leads to all sorts of shenanigans and tom-foolery. Oh, and he has a sidekick (of course) named Darrel who’s robotically challenged, musically inclined, and sneaky planning his own…uh, sneaky plan. 😉 Darrel is actually my favorite character of the whole piece (sorry, Neil! I love you but I love Darrel more because he sings!), which makes sense, because his vibe is the epitome of “bad boy”, which media and society has conditioned women to view as totally normal and moreso, absolutely romantic (“omg, he got so mad he punched a wall? That’s soooo romantic – look how passionate he is about you! *sighs*” *rolls eyes so hard they fall out of head*). Anyway, despite his bad boy vibe, Darrel is more cartoon villain than romantic villain (think Dr. Horrible), so whatever, I dig him.
In fact, the whole movie is a cartoon come to life, with over-the-top…well, EVERYTHING. It’s a complete and total farce, and it’s AMAZING. Guys, there’s cars that fly! Robots! Goblins!! (I honestly have no idea WHY there were goblins, got totally lost there, but dudes – goblins!!- and they were adorable and evil and so cute, and then there was the Russian guy and the vodka…like The Fireys in LABYRINTH! Kinda…). There’s time travel! Souvenirs! Explosions! HEADS exploding! This movie has it ALL. It’s an 80s throwback that hits its mark perfectly.
In fact, those super kickawesome, evil, adorable goblins? Looked like they were right out of the Henson labs. They were brilliant. This film was shot entirely in Oregon and parts of Washington over the course of 9 years, and every single set, effect, every puppet was created by a Portland artist. Now THAT is what I like to see in homegrown cinema. Especially when the result is something as laugh out loud funny and enjoyable as this.
The sets were kick ass. The small amount of CGI was almost perfect (the explosions were a little off and fake looking, but they also might have been that way on purpose to fit the 80s theme, I’m not sure). The costumes were fabulous. The actors – ugh, I don’t think there was anyone in this films that I DIDN’T like and that rarely happens. Nic Costa (Darrel) captures the “sidekick craving more” trope perfectly. Rob Taylor as Neil Stryker is hilariously apathetic as the hero (anti-hero?) of the piece. And Rob Taylor as the Mad Scientist is ridiculously funny at being woefully inept. Oh yes, you did read that correctly – Neil and MS were played by the same guy – and I had NO freaking clue till the end of the movie when the credits came around! Not one inkling. Holy fuck, I loved this movie.
Currently playing at the Portland Film Fest, NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is a side-splittingly funny piece of comedy that had me alternately shaking my head at the melodrama, then giggling uncontrollably. With a bit of everything, it’s a madcap adventure of the very best kind – and there damn well better be a sequel in the making. I’m willing to follow Neil Stryker through the universe and time, so c’mon guys, let’s get to more adventuring!
Oh yeah, and watch the trailer below to get a taste of the wacky wildness that is Neil Stryker!
Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time TRAILER 2016 from Rob Taylor on Vimeo.
Counseling: Episode 2 – Creativity
After last week’s spot of “teamwork”, can the boys handle a bit of creativity?
Counseling – The Webseries
What’s this? The webseries I co-wrote is FINALLY here? It premiered TODAY?? Indeed it is and indeed it did!
COUNSELING tells the tale of Matt and Tom, who seek the assistance of counselor, Dr. Robbins, in order to become more upstanding members of society. Does it go well? Does it go poorly? Do they become the most upstanding of upstandingest people ever? Well…as I say in my interview:
I really wanted to write two really awful people and make people really like them.
Take that as you will. 😉
So head on over and check out my interview, then watch the premiere episode of COUNSELING below! (RATED R for language and crass humor – aka E., I think you will like)
Volumes of Blood II
Remember Volumes of Blood? Remember how much I loved it? Well, P.j. and the gang are back for Round 2 and if you’re so willing, they’d love your help. They have an Indiegogo campaign up right now full of fun perks so if you have a couple of extra dollars and love indie horror, head on over and give ’em a hand!
You guys know how I LOVE well-made short films, right? Like, I have a hard-on for that shit. Particularly thought-provoking ones that tackle difficult issues. Pink Moon is totally in that category. TOTES.
Pink Moon is the story of a boy and girl living in a society where heterosexuals are persecuted. As if having to hide their relationship wasn’t enough, the girl gets pregnant (oh, did I mention abortion is forbidden?). It’s a pretty simplistic description for a film that evokes such complex emotion. While the overly-obvious plot device of twisting certain civil rights issues on their heads might be cause for some initial concern, in reality you’ve got a relevant-to-us-all story that needs to be told.
And Pink Moon tells this story with a quiet kind of aplomb. It’s not overbearing in its story-telling, never heavy handed as it could have been in lesser hands than Sal Bardo’s. Brandon Tyler Harris and Cole Johnston as the teenage couple are breathtaking; their chemistry amazing and deeply affecting. The raw honesty here has the potential to shift viewpoints. Beautiful is really the best way to sum up watching this.
My only issue with the film was confusion on my part on how/why people can still have/are having children when heterosexuals aren’t meant to be together. Is it all accidental pregnancies? Insemination? Are there specified “breeders”? I realize there are different ways this could be done but the unclearness here, especially in the hospital scene, drug me out of the story for a moment. That was it though. Apparently a full length version of this movie is being made right now or in the near future (which I cannot WAIT to see!) so I’m hoping things are made a bit more clear in it.
My recommendation is that this be required viewing but since it’s a *free* world, I’ll just highly suggest it instead. 😉 Links to the website are above and Facebook links are in the photos and the movie is online and free. Approximately 17 minutes can give you a helluva lot to ponder.
River City Heroes: Ascendance
*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!
Volumes of Blood Premiere – Friday the 13th (cue scary music!!!)
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!