Saturday 31 December 2016

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016)

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Many thanks to P.J. Starks (Producer among many other things on VoB: Horror Stories) for asking if I would be interested in reviewing the sequel to the excellent Volumes of Blood - it was an easy answer of course. The follow up is even better and without giving away any spoilers this review will give an overview and thoughts on each segment:

Murder Death Killer
Written & directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner
Stars: Barbie Clark, Warren Ray, Thomas Dunbar, Aric Stanish 

Murder Death Killer centres around a con gone horribly wrong and also introduces an iconic killer who doesn't hold back on the stabbing, slashing and worse!  An exciting segment which builds on the legend of a supposedly murdered warehouse employee named Atticus Crow... soon those greedy few who don't heed the warnings find themselves stalked by their very worst nightmare.  I loved the concept of the killer and he is one mean bastard for sure, Atticus Crow is welcome back on my screen anytime!

Written by Nathan Thomas Milliner
Directed by P.J. Starks
Stars: Nathan Thomas Milliner, Kevin Roach, Gerrimy Keiffer, Mark Sheetz, Grady Cooper, Brad Reinhardt, Eric Huskisson, 

Cleverly leading on from Murder Death KillerHaters is a fun and funny short which also acts as the lead in to the main movie credits. In fact it would be a good point now to advise viewers to pay careful attention to this movie as a whole. There are clever links between the shorts all the way through and not just via the main wrap around (which incidentally hasn't even started yet by this point...don't get confused just do as I say PAY attention!)

Anyway back to Haters an expletive filled piece where a couple of hardened horror fans are kicked out of the cinema and return home to kick back and talk horror films, remakes and sequels. The dialogue is great fun with lots of funny opinions on both the follow ups to classic horror films and the many recent remakes. Add to this a nice nasty sting in the tail proving that your actions can very much come back to haunt (or maim) you!

Trick or Treat
Written by P.J Starks & Sean Blevins
Directed by Sean Blevins
Stars: Shelby Taylor Mullins, Chad Benefield, Chad Ray

Post credits comes Trick or Treat.  Shelby Taylor Mullins is a young woman named Mallory alone on Halloween night after her security guard boyfriend is called into work. Work just so happens to be the same library where the first films bloody massacre occurred and it also just so happens that the bodies of the victims have just been discovered. Cue a chilling news report warning that the killer is still on the loose and Mallory starts to get very scared, particularly since she has already had an unsettling encounter with a trick of treater... 

One definite thing to say about Trick or Treat is that it contains the most gut wrenching gore scene in the whole movie and I defy anyone not to recoil in horror at it!  I loved this part and really loved how it connects to everything else.

A Killer House
Witten by P.J. Starks
Directed by James Treakle
Stars:Jacob Ewers, Erin Troutman, Christopher Bower

So here is the core wraparound as such and features Jacob Ewers and Erin Troutman as a young couple being shown around a house for sale. The realtor played by Christopher Bower is sinister to say the least and its very clear that some...unsavoury....things have occurred within the walls of the house. Which then introduces us to the following four segments before unleashing a very grand finale:

Feeding Time
Written by P.J. Starks & Jason Turner
Directed by John Williams Holt
Stars: Caleb Shore, Shelby Taylor Mullins, TJ Clark, Jim O'Rear

Feeding time is a classic wrong time wrong place tale featuring Caleb Shore as a salesman who happens upon a distraught young woman (Shelby Taylor Mullins) who claims that she is being tormented by a monster who lives under her bed. Here is another clever link to a previous story with Shelby Taylor Mullins playing the character of Mallory once say anymore would be giving too much away.  An enjoyable story with decent build up and a great end.

Blood Bath
Written by P.J. Starks
Directed by Jon Maynard
Stars: Kevin Arnold, Bridgette Michelle Hoover, Moses J. Moseley

Kevin Arnold and Bridgette Michelle Hoover play a young married couple who move into their new home...they of course did not expect a dangerous evil to be living in their bathroom of all places! I enjoyed Blood Bath its a short and nasty segment with some cool grue and gore and a very creepy villain.

Fear, For Sinners Here
Written & directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner
Stars: Jessica Schroeder, Julie Streble, Troy Davis, Connor Starks

Set on Christmas eve,  Fear, For Sinners Here plays out as a sort of home invasion/revenge horror story which is both shocking and gory. Jessica Schroeder plays a young mother who is on someones (a great crazed performance by Julie Streble) naughty list. Why is to be revealed and its a great reveal at that - its  also a true testament to how crazy the holidays and present buying makes some people. The ending is almost as horrific as aforementioned Trick or Treat scene and excellently  done - silent night indeed!

The Deathday Party 
Written by P.J. Starks 
Directed by Justin Seaman
Stars: Eric Huskisson, Anne Welsh, Jay Woolston, Cindy Maples, Alyssa Evelyn Rhoads

The Deathday Party is an ace horror short which could have been ripped straight from the bloodstained pages of Tales From The Crypt.  I love Cindy Maples and I don't care who knows it. I have enjoyed all of her roles and she is also a sweet, passionate actress who was kind enough to interview with me a few years ago. In this short she plays possibly my favourite character yet, a sweet homely wife to her loving husband (Jay Woolston in an equally excellent role) with some truly disturbing skeletons in the closet. Cindy shows an incredible range in such a short amount of time and proves what a pro she really is - the selfie scene is stellar. 

This story is insanely bloody, hilarious (the dialogue and facial expressions during THAT haemorrhoids conversation) and tense in equal measure and may just be my favourite of the bunch.  

On the whole Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories does what every sequel should do, surpass the original in every way and has ended my 2016 brilliantly.  So what if its not perfect - perfection is dull.  

Find out more here -this one is 100% by the fans, for the fans and not to be missed.

Friday 2 December 2016

Slasher House II (2016)

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(Online Screener)

Written & Directed by MJ Dixon

Stars: Francesca Louise White, Luna Wolf , Sophie Portman, Sam Cullingworth , David Hon Ma Chu, Wellington Grosvenor , Tiana Rogers. 

I love sequels, I love Slasher House and I was beyond excited at the prospect of a follow up.. I really admire the work of MJ Dixon and his production company Mycho - they do a heck of a lot with very little and while they do have their battles with the many challenges of low budget filmaking, they never make a big deal of it - they move on and still manage to create a great film.

In keeping with previous effort Legacy of Thorn, Slasher House II goes into crazy action horror mode. Whereas the original movie played out as a creepy, claustrophobic mystery, the follow up is more balls to wall while still retaining the intrigue.

Red, now played by the very capable Francesca Louise White, is no longer suffering from amnesia as she was when she was stumbling around the danger filled Slasher House. Therefore she knows who she is, she knows what she is and she knows what she must do. What she is trying to get to the bottom of is why there is such interest in these creepy killers from another corrupt group of people! What the end game is is a mystery to  the audience and without adding anymore, the rug is suitably pulled out from under you in the final minutes - hats off though as I enjoyed this twist a heck of a lot.

The new killers are very cool indeed, there is maniac in a panda mask who enjoys nothing more than slicing and dicing nubile strippers, as well as killer dolls and a nightmarish skeleton who happens upon a group of hapless teens- so a nice supernatural angle to spice things up. As well as this I loved the fact that the teens were credited as the slasher type cliches they were intended to be (the good girl, the slut, the stoner etc etc).

As always MJ's colouring is absolutely striking and this time not only is there the vivacious red of Reds hair to behold there is the cartoonish yellow of co-star Luna Wolfs stripper wig. It just looks so impressive on screen - bringing characters and situations to life in such a way  really is something that MJ Dixon and his team excel at. In addition to that a huge thumbs up for the fantastic score, a perfect fitting for the movie for both the suspense and the action sequences.

All in all this is a very worthy follow up to Slasher House and brings new things to the table. Its far more ambitious than its predecessor and I  truly commend the Mycho team for always working hard to up their game. Its also always wonderful to see what true fans of the horror genre come up with via their own twisted minds - and that is quite honestly said with love.

You can see Slasher House II  in its gory glory on 22nd January 2017 at the  Horror-On-Sea festival in Southend . In addition you can pre-order the DVD right here,  although this is currently a limited run so get shopping!