Volumes of Blood (Movie Review)

Volumes of Blood (Movie Review)
7 10

PLOT: A quartet of college students trying to come up with an urban legend about their local library provide the wraparound for this horror anthology, which features five stories from five different directors.

REVIEW: VOLUMES OF BLOOD opens with text on screen mentioning, among other things, that the film is "a true endeavor of independent cinema". Not only is that fact something to be proud of, the statement also serves to help ease the viewer into the type of movie they're about to see, which does indeed display some of the common pitfalls of micro-budget movie making, like some dodgy acting and fluctuating video quality. There's nothing here that will make you blink if you watch a lot of low budget indies, but if you're more accustomed to well-polished mainstream fare, you should know that this film had very humble beginnings. This is the result of a program filmmaker P.J. Starks ran at the Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky called Unscripted Film School, which gave locals a chance to witness the filming of the shorts that make up this anthology.

When I heard that this was produced in partnership with a library I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. Of course, libraries contain books with all sorts of content for every age group, but I assumed that a horror movie made in association with one would have to go light on the language and gore. I thought it would need to be family friendly, accessible to everyone in the community. That is not the case with VOLUMES OF BLOOD. The connection to the library only affects the content in that the building is the movie's primary setting. The filmmakers didn't have to hold back in any way, which quickly becomes clear when we see a bloody throat slashing and then a head chainsawed in half within the first few minutes. 

There were five directors involved in the making of VOLUMES OF BLOOD, each taking the helm of one of the five segments that make up the film. Lee Vervoort handled the wraparound segment, fittingly titled "That's a Wrap!", which begins with four college students sitting in the library and coming up with an idea to try to create a new urban legend based around this location. Each student tells their own story, which is how we get the other four tales of terror.

John Kenneth Muir directed "A Little Pick Me Up", a quick and gory little story that delves into the dangers of energy drinks. Particularly energy drinks delivered to you by strange men with names that sound suspiciously close to Lucifer. This segment is a bit too simplistic, but it's fun and features popular character actor Jim O'Rear as the fellow who just wants you to try his company's new drink.

Starks directed "Ghastly", making the stylistic choice to shoot it in black and white, which definitely works for it. This story comes the closest to having the "community friendly" approach I suspected the entire film might have. It involves a librarian being stalked among the book shelves by a ghostly presence that toys with him by moving one of the books around the place. Starks managed to capture a nice, dark tone for "Ghastly", but I do find this stretch of the film to be somewhat underwhelming because when all is said and done it's really just a guy chasing a book around for a few minutes.

"13 After Midnight", directed by Jakob Bilinski, is a segment powered by rapid fire comedic banter packed with pop culture references. Actors Paige Ward and Grant Niezgodski do a fine job handling the dialogue as their characters, a hard-studying college student and her potentially alcoholic boyfriend, go back and forth about various subjects. The boyfriend at the very least borders on annoying, if not crossing the line and going deep into annoyance territory, but it's a lively few minutes that leads into the horror aspect. "13 After Midnight" is a monster tale with a twist, and although the monster is far from impressive its appearance does bring about a solid version of a classic anthology ending, and I love the red and blue lighting utilized during the chase sequence.

The filmmaker at the helm of "Encyclopedia Satanica" brings with him an extra boost in attention from the horror community - it's artist Nathan Thomas Milliner, perhaps best known for the work he's done for Horrorhound and creating cover art for Scream Factory DVD/Blu-ray releases. Milliner is likely the filmmaker that genre fans will be most familiar with when going into VOLUMES OF BLOOD, and he also delivers what I found to be the most well-crafted segment of the bunch, in the writing as well as cinematography and picture quality.

Milliner's story centers on a young library worker mourning the anniversary of her ex-boyfriend's death by suicide. With the Encyclopedia Satanica, she summons her ex so she can have the chance to talk to him one last time. Unfortunately for her, he is not happy to see her again. The ex is played by Kevin Roach, who Milliner would later cast as a young Freddy Krueger in a fan film he made, and here it's clear to see why he would choose Roach for such a role. Roach delivers an incredible performance as this demonic maniac who comes back from the dead with a grudge to settle and a lot of hate to spew at his former love. "Encyclopedia Satanica" takes VOLUMES OF BLOOD to a whole other level.

With each "That's a Wrap!" student having told their story, the film returns to them for a wrap-up of the wraparound. Just as it appears that the movie will be ending, the whole thing goes completely off the rails in a wonderfully comedic and meta way. As it turns out, an early scene that seemed to be out of place was actually very important for the ending of the film. "That's a Wrap!" takes us out with a gore extravaganza and left me with a smile on my face as the credits began to roll.

VOLUMES OF BLOOD may not be a new anthology classic, but it blows away the expectations you might have for a low budget movie made in association with a library as part of a film school program. Sometimes it can be a bumpy ride, but overall it provides a thoroughly enjoyable 96 minutes of horrific entertainment. If you didn't catch a screening when it was making the festival and convention rounds (and of course if you did catch it and liked it), I would recommend picking up a copy of the DVD, which was just recently released by LeglessCorpse Films.

Extra Tidbit: VOLUMES OF BLOOD is now available for purchase on LeglessCorpseFilms.com



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