While trying to come up with the best way to describe Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, a line from a song I’ve always loved came to my mind. The song is called “Shake, Rattle (Snake), and Roll!“, by A Girl A Gun A Ghost, and the lyric is, “We’ll spill your blood. We’ll haunt your dreams.” Like, it’s so fitting that it should be on the film’s poster. The only way a lyric could more perfectly capture the tone of the movie is if there was a song called “Just A Whole Bunch Of Gore”, and the lyrics we’re something like, “Hey girl, I like your pretty face. But I’d like it better in pieces all over the place. Hey boy, that’s a cute smile you have. It’d be a shame if someone gave you a Colombian necktie and then literally stabbed you through the a**hole with a butcher knife before also repeatedly stabbing you in the chest and abdomen areas.” (I’m still working on the melody, but these lyrics are straight fire. Maybe I can the film’s composer Rocky Gray to help me track it.)
Last year I reviewed this film’s predecessor, Volumes of Blood, and called it “a clever, creative, and gore-tastic piece of film-work…” I genuinely love VoB, and to this day I 100% stand behind that review. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of VoB2:Horror Stories, excited about how it would expand on the original film, but what I couldn’t have imagined is the level of complexity that the filmmakers were weaving the story into this time around.
(There are potential MINOR SPOILERS ahead, but I’ve genuinely tried to avoid revealing too much. Read on at your own risk though.)
At it’s most basic, the plot of Horror Stories is about a house that harbors some dark secrets and terrible cruelty. Really though, the overall plot structure is actually very intricate. So much so that if you start trying to think about how all the segments of each film fit together to make up the entire picture, as it were, you will go absolutely insane. Like, Jim Carrey in The Number 23 level of insane. It’s like if Saw and Inception had a torrid love affair that produced a child, and that child grew up watching nothing but 80’s slasher flicks and then had a child of it’s own with another hypothetical movie-child that was the product of a one-night-stand between Donnie Darko and Memento, THAT child would be Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. It’s almost as complex as this analogy.
There’s kind of an “anti-point” to the the film’s use of story complexity though. It’s intricate for fun, not to be pretentious, or because you actually have to know the timeline in order to care about what’s happening. All that really matters is the blood; and, by god, they don’t spare one drop.
The movie is a blood bath. Literally. One of the segments is titled “Blood Bath” and it is about a killer bathtub. That’s f**king brilliant. I’ve used that term for over half of my life and the idea of an actual murderous bathtub never once dawned on me.
I don’t particularly *like* choosing a favorite segment, but if you twisted my arm (to the point of snapping it off and showering all those in my direct vicinity with blood) then I supposed I’d have to say it was “Fear, For Sinners Here.” This segment takes place around Christmas, and is about a woman who is clearly suffering some great anxiety, but you’re not entirely sure what. She’s greeted by some carolers at her door, which briefly lifts her spirits, but she returns to her anxious state once they leave. Coincidentally, her name is actually Carol. Later she hears singing again and believing they’ve returned she opens her door, only to find one, lone, ominous woman in a hooded cloak singing to her. This woman turns out to have some less-than-merry intentions toward Carol, and proceeds to deck her ever-loving halls. I’m trying not to give too much away here, but I wanted you to know about it enough for me to say that the actress who plays the Cruel Caroler, Julie Streble, was absolutely fantastic. The entire thing was amazing, and both women did great, but the way her character has almost two completely different personalities was well crafted and she executed it perfectly.
There’s no way I can go into giving each and every segment of VoB2 the praise it deserves because this review would end up being 20,000 words long and none of us have time for that. Besides, once you see it you’ll understand why. The movie is summed up best in it’s final 10 or so minutes. It’s a barrage of violence that isn’t pointless, but is senseless in the most satisfying way. Allow me to explain what I mean… Most horror movies need a reason or point, or at least a slasher/killer that has one. Jigsaw has his need to impose self-righteous “lessons” to those with moral turpitude. In It Follows the “entity” is killing teenagers that have sex. Even Classic horror films aren’t exempt from the formula. Pinhead murders for punishment. Freddy and Jason are both basically killing in the pursuit of revenge. (Michael Myers is arguably the only one that seems to murder out of genuine instinct. He kills for the sake of killing, not for any tangible reason. But that’s a lengthy discussion for another day.) The VoB series has “The Face”, and he clearly kills with no real discrimination. In the last section of the film he serves up a spree of slaughter so excessively gruesome and hilariously violent that it makes Chucky look like a Monster High doll.
If we gave out some ostentatious score or rating I’d certainly mark this one high. VoB:Horror Stories doesn’t pretend to be other movies, but it pays homage to the films that influenced it. It knows exactly what it is, and it indulges in it’s own self-actualization. You’ll cringe. You’ll laugh. From story to story you’ll find yourself enthralled and captivated. Assuming, that is, you have the stomach for it…
Keep an eye out for Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories and make sure you catch a screening if it plays at a film festival near you!