Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories
Directed by – Nathan Thomas Milliner (“Murder Death Killer” & “Fear, For Sinners Here” segments), P.J. Starks (“Haters” segment) Sean Blevins (“Trick or Treat” segment), John William Holt (“Feeding Time” segment), Jon Maynard (“Blood Bath” segment), Justin M. Seaman (“The Deathday Party” segment), James Treakle (“A Killer House” segment)
Featuring – Barbie Clark, Warren Ray, Thomas Dunbar, Aric Stanish, Nathan Thomas Miliner, Kevin Roach, Gerrimy Keiffer, Jacob Ewers, Erin Troutman, Christopher Bower, Jeff Hancock, Shelby Taylor Mullins, Chad Benefield, Chad Ray, Caleb Shore, T.J. Clark, Eric Huskisson, Anne Welsh, Jay Woolston, Cindy Maples, Alyssa Evelyn Rhoads, Jessica Schroeder, Julie Streble, Troy Davis, Connor Stark, Kevin Arnold, Bridgette Michelle Hoover, and Moses J. Moseley
The movie opens with Dick, Vallie and their associate Mr. Dawson as they intend to unburden a business of excess inventory, which they intend to sell to a prearranged buyer. As they prepare for their pilferage, Dawson spins a little yarn about a man named Atticus Crow, who will be back from the dead and looking for vengeance if they don’t clear out before dark. All three are dispatched in gruesome fashion, learning the harsh lesson that legends can be based in reality.
As the opening credits roll, the camera pulls back to reveal we are in a movie theater that is showing a remake of an 80’s horror classic called Murder Death Killer. A fanboy rant ensues, disrupting the viewing experience of the other patrons. The fanboy and his pal carry on and bandy about insults concerning the state of modern horror films. An unlucky, diminutive, mustachioed usher invites the “haters” to leave, only to become the target of a barrage of insults. The rant continues on, in the confines of the fan boy’s apartment. Again the fanboy rant meets an abrupt ending when the disgruntled usher shows for some payback. He sees the fanboy’s friend is about to watch a movie and joins him, insisting he “press play”.
The movie in question is about a house, one that has stood for over a century. Old houses have a specific history all their own, that’s written over time by its occupants, and this one is no different. And while most multi-level homes are described as one, two or even three story, this one happens to be a six story house…so to speak.
Home is supposed to be a warm, safe place where families celebrate holidays and special occasions, while creating long lasting memories. But sometimes these memories are ones that some people wish would not come to light, especially when that person is a realtor trying to help a young couple find a “killer house” to make their new home.
Hopefully this couple will never find out the darker meaning that the words “trick or treat” can take on during Halloween, or discover that “feeding time” during Thanksgiving doesn’t always occur around the family dinner table.
This home could be where they intend to start a family, but sometimes for a young couple moving to a new home, the stress could escalate things into a “bloodbath”. And during a very stressful holiday like Christmas, they might be fortunate enough to hold on to such notions as peace on earth and good will towards men instead of being faced with “fear, for sinners here”.
And let’s not forget the imposition of nosy neighbors dropping by unannounced on special days like a birthday. Maybe the key to having a really happy birthday, when these annoying folks drop by, is to offer them a “happy deathday”.
Home ownership can be a nightmare sometimes, especially with a house as old and big as this one. But sometimes all that’s needed to energize such an old house is new blood, and surely that’s a sentiment this realtor agrees with.
The filmmakers put a disclaimer at the beginning saying that this film anthology was a labor of love made by horror fans for horror fans. This was completely unnecessary, because anybody who watches it will be able to see the passion for the genre that went into this production. Perhaps at this point I d should give a disclaimer about how I intend to faun all over this film…sorry , it’s just that good.
Each of the different segments stands as a short a love letter to the horror genre and fans of the genre alike. The idea of making an anthology about a house and the horrific events and deaths that have taken place in it was especially appealing to me. Owning a 90 year old house myself, I often wonder about who previously lived here and especially who may have died here. Whether people admit it or not, I believe everyone has a touch of the same morbid curiosity.
The idea of using holidays and birthdays also made for some very creative segments. It’s not the idea that these holidays haven’t already been given the horror treatment, rather it’s how these filmmakers did it differently. Each story is well written, is able to be carried out effectively within a short time frame, and in no way feel rushed or lacking in proper development. There are also many subtle and not so subtle nods to past films and filmmakers, but it wasn’t done pretentiously to root out those who are unworthy for not catching the references. Quite the contrary, it was done in a very inclusive way so that so horror fans of every king could be in on it.
With the exception of two segments (Miliner’s Murder Death Killer and Fear, For Sinners Here), every other segment was helmed by a different director. This aspect combined with the wrap around story helped to prevent a monotonous stylistic flow from segment to segment. It also helps to provide these filmmakers with well deserved exposure. This is the kind of anthology that should be the standard going forward, where many voices can be heard in a collaborative effort.
The effects in this movie were created by Cassandra Baker and her crew members Alexis Dahl and Josh Morris. These were some of the best practical gore effects I’ve seen in an independent horror film, and I would say they could stand up to the quality I’ve seen in bigger budget horror pictures. Well done to you and your crew as well..
As far as acting goes, this was a veritable cornucopia, overflowing with talented individuals with great potential. I did have my favorites though. It’s hard not to since some material will speak more to some than to others.
Barbie Clark, Warren Ray and Thomas Dunbar nailed it in “Murder Death Killer”. Clark and Ray had great chemistry in their exchanges and antics, and Dunbar provided the perfect “strait man”in contrast to their humor laden performances.
I would be remiss if I didn’t describe the trio of Nathan Thomas Miliner, Kevin Roach and Gerrimy Keiffer in “Haters” as priceless. Roach and Miliner work so well off of each other and then Keiffer is added into the mix as their unfortunate, yet hilarious, stooge – hilarity ensues.
As the realtor, Mr. Stine in the segment “Killer House”, Christopher Bower had a strong and unsettling presence. He is courteous and pleasant, but there is just something unspoken in his demeanor that could put even the toughest bloke on edge.
My favorite of all the performances was Jessica Schroeder as Carol in “Fear, For Sinners Here”. Her performance is haunting and she conveys so much emotion without saying a word through most of her performance. It was in her movement, her posture, her eyes…she spoke volumes (no pun intended) despite saying so few lines. Do you know how it feels when you’ve seen the goods? Well I’ve seen many independent films, horror or otherwise…she has the goods.
I would also like to point out that the aforementioned Barbie Clark was also responsible for and did a fantastic job with the costume design for every segment of the film.
One thing to keep an eye open for is all of the businesses advertised in the film. It would make an interesting little game to see if you could find every one of them. But I imagine that these businesses, all had a hand in helping get this film made, so a bit of “product placement” is well deserved.
Yes my little monsters, this has been a lengthy piece, but I wanted…no, I needed to give this film its due deference. And maybe I was entirely too brief in my synopsis, but to give anything away would be unforgivable on my part. You all just simply need to watch this film. So finally, as an early Christmas gift to the producers, directors, cast, crew and anyone else involve in this film, I give this film hard earned 9 /10.
At this point I would also like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and fellow crew members of Brian Storm, a boom operator on this film, who recently passed away in a tragic accident.
Thanks for sticking with me until the end, everyone. OK kiddos, I strongly recommend watching this movie when it becomes available, and believe me when I say I will definitely let you know when and where it can be found.