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Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016) – Better Than Before?

VOBHS Official PosterBack in May of last year I reviewed a horror anthology called Volumes of Blood. I thoroughly enjoyed the flick and was thrilled when its sequel was announced. Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016) picks up after the events of the first film, or at least the wrap around story. Once again they go for broke with the blood, have some outstanding and fresh kills, manage to tell compelling stories in “short film” format all the while showing off their obvious love for a variety of horror genres.

The title card on the film states the following:

Warning: The independent sequel you are about to view was a true labor of love for the genre, produced by horror fans for horror fans.

It is clear after watching Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories that that is absolutely true.

SPOILER ALERT: This review will talk openly about some plot points of the film but I won’t ruin any major surprises. If you want to be totally spoiler free skip this until you’ve watched the film.

As stated previously, this is an anthology film with seven (eight if you count the wrap around) short(er) films making up the final product.  We start out with Murder Death Killer written and directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner. In it we’re introduced to a bad ass new killer known as Atticus Crow. He looks cool, he acts cool and he kills cool. He’s definitely got that Kane Hodder feel to him (Jason Voorhees, Victor Crowley) with his brutality and the way he heaves and breathes. In this first segment you can see the first of many “Easter Eggs” that prove these guys are horror fans when you see a Jason Voorhees hockey mask hanging in the background.

vobhs-still-feel-the-painNext up is the beginning of the wraparound story known as Haters written by Millner and P.J. Starks and directed by Starks. This one stars Millner and Kevin Roach as bitter movie goers who get booted out of a horror flick (Murder Death Killer) for complaining about the flick, the state of horror flicks these days and much more. I remember a while back when Nathan was doing “research” for this roll on Facebook and to see it come to life here brought me a ton of joy… it’s hilarious and spot on. You may recognize Roach from his role in The Confession of Fred Krueger where he played Fred himself. More blood here (you’ll see that theme throughout) in this satisfying yet disjointed story.

Trick or Treat directed by Sean Blevins is a short tale that references the events in the first Volumes of Blood film. There are multiple layers of self-referential stuff here which is really good if you’re familiar with the original. If you’re not you may lose out on some of the stuff that’s being laid out.

vobhs-still-stineWhen I said that Haters was the wrap around story I failed to mention it was really one of TWO wrap arounds. A Killer House is where we get the concept of horror “stories” in the literal sense of the word as it tells the tale of a couple looking to purchase a home. The realtor takes them from room to room, over several “stories” and the remaining tales in the anthology play out. This piece is directed by James Treakle. Seeing as it’s woven through several other stories it felt a bit long winded but it comes to relatively satisfying (though unfortunately off camera) conclusion.

Feeding Time directed by John William Holt tells the story of an insurance salesman looking to make a sale. It devolves (I’m using that word in a positive way) into a good old fashion monster movie. I could have done with more monster and less dialog here but I really felt myself getting into this one and was able to see how dude managed to get himself into that particular situation.

Blood Bath directed by Jon Maynard shows a couple looking for some baby-making time. Wife goes into the shower and hubby starts to hear and see things. They make reference to the fact that he needs his meds and I wasn’t sure if they were talking about boner pills or psycho meds. Either way we get a TON of blood here with some outstanding gore even though the end of this one sort of fell apart for me a bit.

Everything up to this point has been great. If Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories ended here it would be a recommend. The final two stories Fear, For Sinners Here and The Deathday Party push this to a STRONG recommend. These are my two favorite pieces of the anthology and because of that I get a sense that the film has built to a very satisfying crescendo.

vobhs-still-unwanted-visitorFear, For Sinners Here is once again directed by Milliner. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and shows a mom getting drunk and wrapping presents for her son Joey. Look for another horror icon Easter Egg in this segment as Fred Krueger’s glove makes an appearance. Mom gets visited by Christmas carolers and she has… issues with one of them. There’s a twist here that I totally didn’t see coming which I really appreciated and upped the creep factor big time. Not a ton of blood with this one but the segment is so well acted that I didn’t find myself missing it.

The final piece of the anthology is The Deathday Party directed by Justin Seaman. It tells the tale of two neighbors who wander next door (unannounced) to wish their neighbor a happy birthday. There’s plenty of “over the hill” jokes and when the husband gets a tour of the basement he gets more than he bargained for. We learn that the couple is into some very bloody gift giving. This one runs a tad bit on the long side and I didn’t care for its abrupt conclusion but I’d had such a good time going up to the end that it gets a pass.

The wraparound stories get wrapped up and I have to say I love the fact the killer from Volumes of Blood still has a rather large role in this film. If and when we see a third installment I’d absolutely love to find out who dude is and how he invariably fits into the overall story. I realize that I’ve never answered my question of whether this is better than the original and I won’t now either. It’s certainly on par with the original… I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it bests it.

 Recommendation

I love short films. Because of that I really enjoy anthologies. Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories is a sequel that doesn’t rely too much on the original but ties back to it just enough. Just as before it lives up to its name with a ton of blood and gore. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure they’re all practical effects too which, let’s be honest, are always better. There are a couple of kills here that are really unique and it’s clear from the word go that you’re dealing with a film made by people that love the genre. This is strong recommend. You don’t NEED to have seen the original but I’d suggest that you’ll enjoy this one more if you have.

A small post credit scene shows the killer in a very every day activity. Along with killer is Brian Storm who tragically passed away this week in a car accident. Rest in peace Brian.

Special thanks to P.J. Starks for giving me access to the film and apologies for me taking so long to get it reviewed.

You can find more about Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories at the following links:

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