VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES is fabled fodder
There have been some notable horror anthology films produced in the past 45 years.Tales from the Crypt (1972), Vault of Horror (1973), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Creepshow (1982), Cat’s Eye (1985), Tales from the Darkside (1990), and recently Trick ‘r Treat (2007) are some of the best from that list. The formula for a successful horror anthology is to either show commonality and fluidity between tales or to add a “wraparound tale” that ties them all together. It is preferred to arrange a number of experienced directors to collaborate on this project, but if this is not possible, the alternative option is that the film could then act as a skill base and resume builder for some new talent. The finished product should demonstrate the individual talent as well as the collaborative efforts. The horror anthology film should work as a single film entity and as the result of the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016) does not successfully demonstrate these qualities.
The film begins with a typical rural ‘legend’ tale. In “Murder Death Killer” (Directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner) Dick (Warren Ray) takes Vallie (Barbie Clark) for a job opportunity on a farm and the resident farmer, Mr. Dawson (Thomas Dunbar), warns them to beware the legendary Atticus Crow (Aric Stanish), who resembles a rusty chain-wearing scarecrow who chooses to kill anyone he meets. At the conclusion of this tale, the camera pulls back and it is revealed that this story is being shown in a movie theater… where the next tale begins.
In “Haters” (Directed by P.J. Starks), Two rowdy moviegoers (Nathan Thomas Milliner and Kevin Roach) cause a disturbance, resulting in an altercation with a theater usher (Gerrimy Keiffer). The two men distract the usher long enough for them to relocate elsewhere in the theater… to discuss films. The usher becomes unhinged, confronts the men, and there is an unfortunate incident.
The Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories credits roll, then back to the stories.
In “A Killer House” (Directed by James Treakle), a killer stalks a man (Chad Benefield) and his date in their home. When another killer suddenly enters, things become complicated. There is a setup, then an attempt at foreshadowing.
In the next scene, a realtor, Mr. Stine (Christopher Bower), is showing a house to a couple (Jacob Ewers and Erin Troutman). The realtor acts awkwardly and over dramatizes and the dialogue between the three of them feels unnaturally rehearsed.
In “Trick or Treat”/”Feeding Time” (Directed by Sean Blevins/John William Holt), Boone the salesman (Caleb Shore) meets Mallory (Shelby Taylor Mullins), who asks him for assistance in eliminating the monster from under her bed.
“Blood Bath” (Directed by Jon Maynard), has Andrew (Kevin Arnold) and Sara (Bridgette Michelle Hoover) battling a killer bathtub. It is during this tale that we become aware that the segments featuring the realtor and his clients are intended to be a single wraparound tale. The fact that this becomes apparent so late in the film affects the flow and disrupts the continuity.
“Fear for Sinners Here” (Directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner), has two women (Julie Streble and Jessica Schroeder) fighting over a missed opportunity for a Christmas gift. There is a noticeable amount of red throughout this tale.
The last, and seemingly lengthiest tale, “The Deathday Party” (Directed by Justin M. Seaman), is about a couple (Jay Woolston and Cindy Maples) who welcome their neighbors (Anne Welsh and Eric Huskisson) over for dinner…literally.
It is apparent how the original concept of this film might have worked. Unfortunately, the finished product seems to fall short of its intended purpose. There have been…and I’m sure there will be…better horror anthologies out there. Keep looking.