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Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories

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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….

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“I knew filling those balloons with blood instead of water would be awesome!”

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.

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“Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee…”

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 ;)).

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“It’s jelly, I swear!”

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!

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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!

River City Heroes: Ascendance

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*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.

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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.

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In a city where crime seeps from its pores, the victims must become the answer to their own prayers.

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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

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…

One badass mofo

One badass mofo

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.

Blood, blood, blood, yay!

Blood, blood, blood, yay!

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!

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!

Coming Attractions:: Volumes of Blood

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!