Splatterpunk#8

The new issue of Splatterpunk Zine is here. Splatterpunk#8 featuring new fiction from: Bracken MacLeod, Ryan C Thomas, Nathan Robinson and Gabino Iglesias. Illustrations by Dan Henk, Jim Agpalza, Robert Elrod and Christopher Enterline. Non-fiction from Sean Leonard and interviews with David Agranoff and Ray Garton. Limited print run.

http://splatterpunkzine.bigcartel.com/product/splatterpunk-8

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MOTHER’S BOYS by Daniel I Russell (Book Review)

MOTHER’S BOYS by Daniel I Russell (Blood Bound Books)

Above ground, a gang of sadistic young men abduct women for antics of rape, torture and eventual murder.  Simon once hung with these cats but has since moved on to try and “normalize” by settling down and dating Natalie, the Goth chick who works at an Italian eatery.  One night while on a date, Johan and his crew show up at the bar where Simon and Nat are celebrating the anniversary.  Simon is visibly shaken after he and Johan exchange words.  He excuses himself and goes out side to further the conversation with Johan.   The boys have already begun assaulting the old barfly from inside and Simon pleads with them to stop.  They don’t and things go very violent and wrong.

The next day, Nat goes snooping around for the old barfly, trying to piece together the events and how they tether themselves to her boyfriend. She is abducted and dragged to the sewers where she encounters a family unlike any other. The brothers who reside down there are deformed, and not in any normal fashion–baby Edgar is basically a mass of tentacles with a mouth, Herman is a skinless heap of flesh that resides in a rusty pram, Jacob is a behemoth and the twins are rat-faced scurrying things that climb the walls. There is also the brother referred to as “Whistler” for he never speaks only whistles. Max, is the most normal and the one who can go above ground for food and necessities. He’s the only one Nat already knew from his bumming food at the restaurant.  She comes to find that the barfly was their mother and that her murder has ignited a war. A war between these freakish siblings and the gang lead by the white-haired Johan.  The sewers are about to get bloody.

Mother’s Boys is a taut and razor-wired tale of revenge. It takes the tropes of violent gang war and mutated freaks and mashes them together. These characters are all well drawn and detailed from Johan’s phobia of germs and dirt to Simon’s rusted underpinnings gradually showing themselves.  This is a strong and fast paced book and the first I’ve read by Daniel I Russell. I shall look forward to reading more. (John Boden)

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SEVEN FEET UNDER by Matt Weber (Book Review)

SEVEN FEET UNDER by Matt Weber (Sinister Grin Press)

Matt Weber writes Southern Fried pulp horror.  Unapologetically so.  His collection gives you a glimpse into a seedy and dark world where the air is thick with whiskey and smoke and most fingers leave greasy prints.

We open with BAD BRUNCH IN THE BIG EASY, in which a couple celebrate a holiday at a New Orleans eatery, only to have their special day shattered by unbridled violence and malignant black vomit.  In DADDY’S ON THE WAY, a man rushed to get to his children while a giant monster lays waste to their city. DAMMIT, MAVIS is about a protective brother and the dark lengths he goes to while ensuring that his sister is treated well, is also features some very ugly critters in a pond.

INCIDENT AT THE BUTTERED BISCUIT concerns a man with a terrible past and the brutal sum to an equation started long before. IN THE TREES, THE SHADOWS gives us the sordid and grim story of a lonely tramp who lives in the woods and what happens when he takes a girl. TO KILL A GUY TWICE is a story about young folks and death and how once in a while a chance presents itself where one can bend the rules.  The final tale, LET ‘EM HAVE IT concerns a past tragedy that marred a school and a young man’s reputation. Years later, the student returns and everyone seems to have moved on from his past, all but one boy who badgers and begs his way into a dark relationship where he finds that the details leading up to the incident are destined to repeat.

Weber writes in a lean and clear voice. His love of pulp shines with every word. His characters are easy to relate to and realistic.  Weber is a strong new voice in contemporary pulp/horror.  (John Boden)

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WALLFLOWER by Chad Lutzke (Book Review)

WALLFLOWER by Chad Lutzke

Chad Lutzke has a style that’s hard to ignore. He has this understanding of the darkness that floats under the skin of the human psyche as he pulls his readers into a surreal portrait of everyday horror. WALLFLOWER spins torn webs down the dark hallways inside the mind of an addict as its main character, Chris, allows his instinct for self-preservation to become smothered by Heroin.

Chris could be anyone’s friend, daughter, or son. He’s smart enough to know better and yet he can’t deny the surging pull of the drug once he begins a dangerous mentorship with the homeless man he and his friends find in an abandoned housing project. As Chris falls into the drugs comfortable embrace, the horrors of how quickly this all-consuming drug takes over his reality become only too evident.

Lutzke creates a dark vision of a realistic horror. It’s beautifully told and powerful, with a creeping sense of doom that invades every crevice of reality. His story is as captivating as it is disturbing, allowing little room for doubt about where it is headed… There is no smoke and mirrors in this story.  It’s not easy to find a relatable stance with a character who tries something so dangerous out of innocent curiosity, but don’t forget that everyone makes mistakes for reasons incomprehensible to those who value their lives. The reason doesn’t matter when the effects are the same, and if readers are familiar with how heroin and drugs like it can destroy a happy life, they will experience the familiar stings of heartbreak and sorrow while reading this.

It’s not easy exploring the pain that others feel when they are sliding out of control. Sometimes it’s hard to create a believable and sympathetic character that chooses to make bad decisions, but Lutzke faces it head on and hits a home run that will make readers feel uncomfortable while they think about the addictions they have witnessed in their own lives.

The silken promises of a drug like Heroin are often rotting at the core and Lutzke’s seductive web of horror can only be escaped by getting to the end… unless the spider gets there first. (Cory Cline)

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BODY ART by Kristopher Triana (Book Review)

BODY ART by Kristopher Triana (Blood Bound Books)

I’ve been reading the work of Kristopher Triana for over a year now. I started with his collection, GROWING DARK and then beta read several things from him before his novel, THE RUIN SEASON carved it’s name in my heart.   With his newest novel. BODY ART,   Triana tackles erotic horror….or as I beg to clarify, porno horror as I’m old school and tend to think erotic is something a little classier than the type of fuzz bumping shenanigans we get here…but that’s a semantics issue and probably just a personal thing of mine.

BODY ART tells the sordid saga of Kandi, an aging Adult film star who is summoned to the estate of an old producer friend for a role that he swears will be the comeback of the century.  He’s quite secretive about the concepts but assures her she will be stunning.  Meanwhile, across the lake Toby and Jessica are camping and fucking.  Toby is a bit old-fashioned for Jessica who harbors a deep-seated lust and animal hunger for sex that he has only vaguely imagined.  When they catch a glimpse of Kandi across the water and decide to go investigate, they find themselves immersed in a strange and eventually brutally batshit scenario of pornography, violence and madness.

Meanwhile…meanwhile, the town mortician is playing with the dead. His ex-lovers start showing up in body bags and he begins a macabre collection.  Turns out his connection to the events at the lake house is an important one. And what is the deal with all the weird red dust?

I really had no idea what I was in for with BODY ART. I half expected some sort of A SERBIAN FILM angle and while it is there fleetingly, what we have more of is what I like to call “that surreal splatter”–the hyper-nutso stuff that I couldn’t get enough of in the early 90’s. Novels like THE BRIDGE by John Skipp and Craig Spector or THE JIM-JAMS by Michael Green.  Just a sensorial assault that keeps ratcheting until your head threatens to topple from your shoulders.

The story here is original and the characters are richly carved.  And while there is a lot of blood and cum spilled, it is all crucial and not for the sake of the shocked gasp.  It’s the lost collaborative film from Larry Flynt and David Cronenberg.  It’s messy and brutal and a lot of goddamn fun.  I strongly recommend it. (John Boden)

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Double Barrel Horror (Pint Bottle Press)

DOUBLE BARREL HORROR: An Anthology of 12 Stories by 6 Authors (Pint Bottle Press)

This collection of stories is unique in that it’s like the old “Rock Block” the radio stations used to do, or more accurately the “Twofers”  What the editor has done is allow each contributor two stories to flex their muscles.  And there is some muscle here…and sinew and plenty of the red stuff!

The first pair come from Amanda Hard, her opening tale CHEF AND THE MAIDEN concerns a very determined man with special tastes and the young lady unlucky enough to answer his ad, or is she?  The second story, THE THINGS WE DO FOR OUR CHILDREN is a very dark and unsettling retooling of the W.W. Jacobs classic THE MONKEY’S PAW.

With ONE DIRT ROAD K. Trap Jones mines familiar ore around the urban legend trope but then hits a vein when the legend proves true. But it’s the second tale, LAST CLOWN OUT that truly slaps the painted face here–an angry and bitter clown houses some sinister designs on revenge against his fellow clowns.

Vic Kerry’s GILDED LILY is a wildly imaginative tale of an expectant young couple and the strange woods the hedge their property. While THE LITTLE GIRL is a toothsome tale of guilt and consequences.

Author J.C. Michael offers up “Just One Pound” offers a deeper delve into the world of thug justice and the fall out. MEETINGS WITH THE DEVIL is pretty much what the title promises.

Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza (Sister of Slaughter as they are known) hand in JUST A FEW wherein junkies and monsters  duke it out when the druggies break into the house of an elderly couple to steal their meds.  TENANT’S RIGHTS deals with a  young woman who encounters problems with her new apartment and feels that the landlord is ignoring them…until he begins to plead with her to get out of it.

Editor, Matthew Weber takes the closing spot with his pair of stories, BEWARE THE WHAMMY is about a small town, low life’s and curses. SWALLOWED is about a bully who is devoured by a monster and the sole witness can’t seem to get anyone to listen.

The stories here are quick and easy.  They swagger on the pulpy side of the fence and I like that.  They’re vicious little bites of brutal and grisly horror.  This is a great showcase of new talent. (John Boden)

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SLEEP PARALYSIS by Patrick Lacey (Book Review)

SLEEP PARALYSIS by Patrick Lacey (Great Old Ones Publishing)

Aside from a story or two, SLEEP PARALYSIS marks my first foray into the work of Patrick Lacey.  It is a beautifully bizarre collection of stories both dark and bizarre.  Lacey has a keen eye for dialogue and believable characters and he doesn’t shy away from the gruesome.

The collection opens with a tale called “Worm Garden” about a pair of amateur paranormal investigators, one with a secret that will have a profound impact on his partner.  They arrive at the titular spot, an old Quaker graveyard that is said to be one of the most haunted spots in the country. Once there, things get very strange and incredibly creepy.  This story is followed by “Operation Parasite” where paranoia is the main dish and that thing that may or may not be living in your stomach is the just dessert.

“Pen Pals” is one of my favorites in the book, it concerns a boy who, along with the rest of his class is assigned a pen pal. His pen pal, named Simon, fills him in on the horrors of his ugly life, his abusive father and the bullying. Then Simon informs him that he can make things disappear, and then the ugliness in James life starts to go missing.  “Drowning in Filth” offers a not-quite-textbook reason behind a woman’s extreme hoarding.  “Lost And Found” is a wildly surreal tale of a lonely boy, the murder he sees and the odd relationship he develops in the aftermath.

“First Bell” wins my vote for favorite in the collection. It’s is dark and almost sweet in its sadness. A young man who survives a terrible tragedy, wakes up to be at school and hour early every day, so he can visit with friends and fellow students who weren’t as lucky as he. “Send Your End” deals with a very sinister website, while “The Lynnwood Vampires” is almost the tale of a sub-sub-cultural virus of sorts.  “Norton” is the bizarro re-telling of “Harvey” but with a stuffed rabbit with, um, handiness and a very dark effect on those around him.

“Critter Marrow” is another one about a weird website and how it bleeds from the monitor into the lives of those who’ve seen it.  “Last Words” hands us the stark and horrific tale of an unspoken deathbed plea and the grisly discoveries it leads to. “Big Bertha” is a yarn about an ancient arcade game with a voracious appetite.

There are a few I didn’t touch on, which isn’t to say they weren’t good…Hey, I have to leave some surprises!  SLEEP PARALYSIS is a solid collection of unsettling stories. Some of these will play on your mind long after you’ve read them, and there’s no higher praise for a writer than that. (John Boden)

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