HERO by JF Gonzalez & Wrath James White (book review)

HERO by JF Gonzalez & Wrath James White (Deadite Press)

Adelle Smith is a 60s and 70s civil rights activist, still living in a rundown area of North Philadelphia, where she has grown up with her daughter, Tonya. One evening Adelle is driven by limo to City Hall, where is due to accept an award for her lifelong human rights efforts. Unfortunately, during the course of the night, she suffers multiple life changing strokes. Luckily for Adelle and her family she can receive live-in home care in the form of Natsinet Zenawi, a former highly qualified ER nurse, who has just begun work at Hospice Nursing.

HERO isn’t what I initially expected from Messers Gonzalez (SURVIVOR) and White (THE RESURRECTIONIST). Two of the splatterpunk and extreme horror genres most popular figures. But things soon change. Natsinet has been hired to help Adelle but Natsinet resents Adelle and the black community for things that happened in her past. The situation quickly get out of control and it’s soon apparent there’s no going back. 

HERO is an addictive book. It weights in at just under 160 pages and is ideal for a one or two sit read. Either way, it’s the sort of book you can’t put down. I even found myself sitting down and reading a bit while I was waiting for my wife to get her coat on before we went grocery shopping. It’s an extreme horror story. Not as brutal as Gonzalez or White’s previously mentioned books, but it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. There’s plenty of pain here! Mental and physical. This is Gonzalez and White’s playground. And they excel! (Jack Bantry)

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Out Now: Splatterpunk #11

The latest issue of Splatterpunk Zine is now available, featuring new fiction from Chandler Morrison, Aron Beauregard, Tom Over and Janine Pipe. Art by Dan Henk, Robert Elrod, Jim Agpalza and Denis Privezentsev. Plus interviews and reviews. To order visit: splatterpunkzine.bigcartel.com

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Billy Silver by Daniel J Volpe

Billy Silver is a real shit, doing heroin and tricking his girlfriend into giving him blowjobs, beats her, gets her to give blowjobs to dealers in exchange for drugs. Billy could drink and he could puke. And he really didn’t give a fuck as long as he was wasted. Then one day, on his way to band practise, he gets some beers, while chugging them down he passes a new tattoo shop looking to pay models for the artists to practise on. $100 for a tattoo. With no cash and heroin withdrawal kicking in he gives it a go. The cash would pay for a few wraps of heroin and some tall boys. Talia, the tattooist, was one beautiful woman, gave Billy a instant boner. She was like a dream. Talking of dreams, the night after getting the tattoo he had a hell of a weird dream, and that was just the start of the crazy shit.

Daniel J Volpe is part of the Written In Red crew and quickly gaining a name for himself within the Splatterpunk and extreme horror scene. Genre fans should check out Billy Silver – an insane rollercoaster, a depraved world of sex, drugs and tattoos. You won’t be disappointed. Wake up and smell the feces.

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Who’s your favourite splatterpunk?

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Twisted: An interview with Janine Pipe

Here is an interview with UK horror writer Janine Pipe, celebrating the release of her debut collection, Twisted: Tainted Tales.

What initially got you interested in all things “horror”?

I credit the origin of love of horror, and specifically horror fiction, to two things. One, my dad, who also loved it and would sit me on his knee and regale me with ghost stories (and let me watch scary movies). And two, growing up in the West Country surrounded by myths, legends and lore. We were famous for the Hanging Judge (Jefferies), being one of the seats of Wessex (King Arthur) and were a stone’s throw from Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury. Everyone had seen a ghost or knew where a witch had been burned. Add to that my mum was obsessed with crime books and shows and that I always wanted to join the police and it all just came together.

And more specifically horror fiction?

I had written a few things in my teens because I always loved to read and write but they were more akin to Point Horror fan fiction than anything else. I had been writing free-lance for a travel company and blogging about Disney when after being made redundant, I suddenly had some free time on my hands. Since horror was my reading passion, I decided to have a go at writing. ‘Write what you know and what you would read’ after all is the advice from more established authors.

What inspired you to start writing horror fiction and what draws you to the more extreme end of the spectrum?

One of my first stories was Footsteps and I’m not going to lie, I didn’t actually create that with the intention of it being classed as extreme. The menstruation factor just seemed a perfect plot point for these women camping in the woods to become a target from whatever is in there. And because I love some good gore in both books and movies, again I just added it because it felt natural. It was only when I started to look into more indie horror options to read that I discovered this whole new to me sub-genre of splatterpunk and I was hooked. Something strive to inject into my own work is humour, there is a reason why I love Brain Dead so much. That over-the-top gore (the lawnmower scene or where the mum’s ear falls off into the soup!) are just hilarious and if it is done well, you get the points for grossing people out but doing it in a way which just can’t be taken seriously. I like my horror to be fun and splatterpunk seems to fit that. Of course, the more actual extreme side like Ketchum is often a way more serious subject matter like The Girl Next Door and I’d like to try that. But my characters are often teens who use a lot of bad language and talk about sex all the time. It’s hard to read without a smile. I had a lot of fun adding the sexual elements into some of the stories in TTT too, I just need to mark those pages so my parents don’t read them …

I know your favourite writer is Glenn Rolfe (I love Glenn too), what is it about Glenn’s writing that you like so much?

Wait, you know I love Glenn? Oh this is awkward … Haha. One of the things I enjoy most about Glenn’s writing is that he produces exactly what I want to read. I’m an 80s kid so anything set in the 80s/90s is like nectar. He litters his work with pop culture references, again which make me feel more immersed in his world. Boston and the whole New England area is one of my most favourite places in the world and I’m a Red Sox fan so any mention of that is another tick. I love werewolves and vampires and not ones that glimmer. His characters are very real, especially his younger ones and even if it isn’t coming of age they often feel that way. He loves rock and metal like Guns n Roses, me too. He has some real splattery stuff and isn’t afraid of getting sexual (hello, sex demons) which is also cool. His writing is cinematic and I just feel like I am there.

Add on top of all of that, that he is a super cool and supportive person who has risen from someone I admire (and always will) to a friend, mentor and peer (his words, not mine as I could never put myself on the same level) and bamn, fan for life. Does that answer the question? I am Annie to his Paul for sure, lol …

What other interests do you have outside of the the genre?

Wait, I can have interests outside of horror too? Damn … Only joking. At the moment what with writing, editing, reviewing, booktubing etc. horror takes up about 99% of my time and I am hugely thankful that my hubby is also a horror fan so we watch a lot of movies and shows together. However I also love a good police drama/thriller and am obsessed with Line of Duty right now. I also am a HUGE Disney fan and planning our trips to Florida is always enjoyable. I have an 11 year old too so any free time after-school and before bed tends to be spent with her, whether supervising homework or just chilling. We enjoy a good stroll around National Trust places and coffee shops too although that has all been curtailed with the lockdown. My husband and daughter are my world, so just spending time with them makes me happy whether that’s going on holiday, enjoying lattes in Starbucks or just watching a movie together at home.

Tells us about your collection, TTT. Love the 80s, VHS inspired cover. What’s is but about the 80s that you like so much?

Twisted: Tainted Tales is a collection of 17 short stories ranging from werewolves and haunted houses, to serial killers, cannibals and everything in between. There is some splatterpunk, some humour and even some gothic. Most although not all of them are set in the 80s or early 90s.

The cover has been designed by the amazing Neil Fraser to look exactly like a VHS cover. That was my request. Make it an homage to the 80s, like the film posters for Fright Night and American Werewolf in London. And it is perfect.

What do I like about that time? Two things – one that’s my time. I was a kid in the 80s and a teen in the 90s so everything about it is pure nostalgia of a carefree and wonderous time. Also, for writing, not having your characters have instant access to everything is so much better for plots. Now everyone has a mobile with internet even kids. Running into the woods works a lot better as a storyline when not everyone is on Instagram posting not to do it …

Who publishing the book and when will it be released?

I am self publishing TTT through my own press, Pipe Screams. The main reason being that I wanted it out as soon as possible and most presses put out anthologies not sole collections. It was hard though – I might be creative but I suck at technology. I have Jason Brant to thank for making it actually come together. As of now, the eBook is on pre-order and is due for release May 1st and fingers crossed the paperback will be available then too.

You also co-run Kandisha Press. How did you come about getting involved with the publisher and what do they have planned for the near future?

I became involved with Kandisha Press after I subbed a story to their second Women of Horror anthology, Graveyard Smash, in 2020. I loved the idea of a women only book and press, showcasing voices from all over the world and regardless of publication credits. You could be a first timer or award winner. Kandisha welcomes anyone so long as they identify as a woman. I soon became friendly with the owner, Jill Girardi and by the time I had a second story published in the third anthology, I was working as the press agent/publicist. The next inevitable step was to become an editor. I have already started issuing invites to a very special anthology that I am putting out through the press but for now it is a Top Secret project. I’ll just say that we already have some amazing women involved including some big names which is incredible. We will be putting out Volume 4 sometime later this year and then Volume 5 will be out alongside the secret project hopefully sometime during 2022.

Do YOU have anything else planned for 2021?

The rest of my plans for 2021 are simple – write. I will be starting on my second collection of shorts soon but I won’t put too much pressure on myself with time constraints. I have two novellas which are still very much WIP and a few collabs on the table. Those may well be more 2022/23 but are in early planning stages. I’ll keep an eye open for any exciting open calls too. I do have one invite also which will be very exciting but I can’t talk about that yet. Add in the editing and planning with Kandisha, the reviewing for Scream Magazine, Horror DNA, Horror Oasis and Night Worms and the booktubing as well as people often asking me to help with beta reading and well, I’ll certainly be busy. But I love it and I love spreading the love of horror.

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OUT NOW – Splatterpunk #10

Latest issue fearuring new fiction from Bracken MacLeod, Christine Morgan, K Trap Jones and Dan Henk. Accompanying art by Robert Elrod, Jim Agpalza and Dan Henk. Non-fiction: Make Splatterpunk Outlaw Again by Sean Leonard and Horror Music by Aaron Beatup. Plus #PromoteHorror book reviews…

Order now: https://splatterpunkzine.bigcartel.com/product/splatterpunk-10

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First new issue in 3 years, featuring fiction from Patrick Lacey, Matt Shaw, CM Franklyn and Daniel Eaves. Accompanying art by Dan Henk, Robert Elrod and Jorge Wiles. Plus: A Guide to the Apocalypse; Jack Bantry’s Top Ten Splatterpunk & Extreme Horror Novels and more…

Order now:  https://splatterpunkzine.bigcartel.com/product/splatterpunk-9

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SHALLOW GRAVES: A Collection – Story Notes

SHALLOW GRAVES: A Collection – Story Notes

We thought we’d share where we got the ideas from for the stories in our new collection, SHALLOW GRAVES. Three of the stories are collaborations, added to this are four each of our own stories. SHALLOW GRAVES is available on paperback and kindle from Death’s Head Press.

“Starving Artist” by Robert Essig
Robert: Having grown up in San Diego and spent time in and around the beaches, I saw many a homeless hippy selling their wares on the Boardwalk. Beaded necklaces, incense, hemp bracelets, and even street art. I wondered what could be so captivating in a piece of third-rate street art that would have someone so enamored that they just HAD to buy it. How could owning such a piece go wrong? There’s also commentary on how people treat one another and abuse the kindness of strangers. It’s a little abstract, but its in there somewhere. I like this story a lot, so I was pleased with the great response when it was first published in SAN DIEGO HORROR PROFESSIONALS VOL. 1.

“The Itch” by Jack Bantry
Jack: Out of all my stories this is my favourite, originally written for Bloodshot Books’ NOT YOUR AVERAGE MONSTER antho. It was rejected because it was too far out there. A group of men go on a stag-do to Amsterdam and the main character becomes a little obsessed with one of the ladies in the windows. He ends up with a case of the killer crabs and not your Guy N Smith variety! It was originally published by The Sinister Horror Company in their BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS VOL. 3 anthology along with the likes of Paul Tremblay, Guy N Smith, Paul Kane and Glenn Rolfe. I think Bloodshot missed out there.

“Clarissa” by Robert Essig & Jack Bantry
Robert: I wrote a story about a polygamist cult in which yearly two of the young women would be impregnated. One would have the child to be a new member while the other had to give their child up as a blood sacrifice. The young woman who would have to sacrifice her baby was having second thoughts, planning an escape with the young man who was the father of the sacrifice. I wrote maybe half of the story and there was no end that wasn’t predictable or a big letdown after the build-up, so I sent it to Bantry and asked if he had any ideas. What he sent back was way different. Almost a complete story, really, with a few elements of my original idea. I liked what he did, so I continued on and wrote the end. After that we polished it and sent it off on submission.

Jack: Yeah, Robert sent me Clarissa. I butchered it! When reading Robert’s original draft, the story of the real life monster, Josef Fritzl sprang to mind… We didn’t need a cult and the result is much more effective. Clarissa was published first in CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES and then in Comet’s YEAR’S BEST HARDCORE HORROR VOL. 1.

“Like Ants On A Carcass” by Robert Essig
Robert: I wrote this story in the midst of the economic recession, and it shows. I was a painter, making a good living repainting and fixing up bank foreclosed homes. Listening to talk radio on my headphones I heard a story about someone who had to get rid of stuff a tenant had left in a rental. The listing said that everything was free and must go. When desperate people with nothing to their name and less to lose showed up, they started digging plants out of the ground and ripping light fixtures out of the ceilings. The story was so ridiculous that it made me laugh, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I had to explore just how depraved such a miscommunication could get, particularly when people are desperate.

“Special Delivery” by Jack Bantry
Jack: As a postman delivering in rural North Yorkshire I used to go to many farms and isolated homes. You’d get to know the people and have a chat on a daily basis. Special Delivery is what would happen if the customer had ulterior motives. This was originally much longer and was accepted by an anthology which never happened. Shame really because Graham Masterton was also going to be included. I ended up making it into a flash piece. Preferred the pacing and I think it works better for it.

“A Lesson in Renegade Filmmaking” by Robert Essig & Jack Bantry
Jack: I got the idea for this one from a Pink Lincolns song called “Monsters”. One line in the song read: “Yesterday I believed in Monsters, People are more hideous than monsters.” I began writing a story about a young horror movie-loving kid called Bagley. He was kidnapped by the guy from the video store and held in a cage. It was a bit sick and didn’t work, so Robert took over and transformed it. This could possibly be our strongest collaboration. Renegade was published by Max and Lori at Dark Moon Digest.

Robert: After reading the original story I absolutely loved the first half. I could relate to the kid so much. I added a completely different second half of the story, and then Jack came in and changed the ending. We agreed that it would have taken more time to develop the plot and the relationship between Bagley and the video store owner to try and pull off what I was going for. Leaving it the way it was, we would have been seriously testing the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

“Dermousfusion” by Robert Essig
Robert: This one goes back quite a few years. It has undergone many facelifts and close calls, ending up on a few prominent short lists, but never quite making the cut. I’m reluctant to publish unreleased material, figuring maybe it’s not good enough, but I believe in this story. Where it came from…? I have no idea. None whatsoever. I asked myself how disastrous it would be if our flesh couldn’t touch without fusing together. How scarred we would be. How we would have to protect ourselves. How dangerous sex would be. How hard it would be to hide past mistakes when they’re tattooed on our bodies in the shape of nasty scars where skin touched skin unprotected. Why in the world would I think such a thing? Because it’s fucked up, that’s why.

“Rejected” by Jack Bantry
Jack: Rejected is about a stoner postman who gets bitten and turned into a werewolf. I have no idea where the idea came from. The main character was stoned when he was turned and therefore only turns on a full moon if he has no THC in his system. Some of the story is autobiographical and that’s all I’ll say about that.

“Wicking” by Robert Essig & Jack Bantry
Robert: This was mine and Bantry’s first collaboration. I had contacted him and asked if I could send him a story for Splatterpunk Zine. He passed on the first story, so several months later I asked to send another called “In the House of Wicking”. He said it sparked ideas and would I be interested in a collaboration. My history with this particular story goes back to originally writing it as a 90 page screenplay in high school. I’d completely rewritten it a few times since. You want to change shit around and make it better? Be my guest. And boy did Jack make the story better. I was so impressed by his ability to switch things around a bit and add more emotion to my villain that I gladly accepted the offer of collaboration and we were off to the races.

Jack: Can’t really add any more to this. Robert sent me it for the zine. I Iiked it, but it didn’t quite work. It was a bit too muddled, so I cut a load out and restructured it.

“By Maggots Be Driven” by Robert Essig
Robert: Here’s another one I have no recollection of writing. I don’t know where my head was at, what I was thinking, what spurred the idea. I can say that at the time I was fairly obsessed with the idea of people losing their minds. Not a new idea (Lovecraft and other authors of the weird tale beat this dead horse into the ground), but something I am truly and deeply afraid of. So I asked myself, what causes people to lose it? I also asked, what if maggots began to appear spontaneously? They only eat dead flesh, and yet they’re so disgusting and for some reason they feel threatening. Junkies see maggots or bugs or whatever and scratch their skin bloody, so what would cause a young widowed mother to see bugs? And now I wonder if I really asked those questions or not, because I really don’t remember.

“Keep Safe” by Jack Bantry
Jack: Keep Safe was my first published story. I used to work as a postman – write about what you know. Instead of the mail building up on your doorstep when you go on holiday Royal Mail hold it in the office until you return. This is called a Keep Safe. Therefore postmen know when certain houses are empty, and when the owner will return. I had the idea for a robbery, but I was never going to commit one. Instead I was gonna make up a story and for the protagonists, things never go as planned. It was published by The Horror Zine.

Robert Essig is the author of a dozen books including STRONGER THAN HATE, SHALLOW GRAVES: A Collection (with Jack Bantry), and MOJAVE MUD CAVES, which was published as a signed/limited edition through Thunderstorm Books. He has published well over 100 short stories and edited two small press anthologies. Robert is currently at work on his next novel and editing the CHEW ON THIS! anthology for Blood Bound Books. He lives with his family in east Tennessee.

Jack Bantry is the editor of Splatterpunk Zine. He’s the author of THE LUCKY ONES DIED FIRST; AIN’T WORTH A SHIT, INSATIABLE and SHALLOW GRAVES: A Collection (all co-authored with Robert Essig); and he’s the Splatterpunk Award-winning editor of SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK and SPLATTERPUNK FOREVER. He resides in a small town at the edge of the North York Moors.


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CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES by Max Booth III (Published by Fangoria)

I had been looking forward to reading CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES since it first came out. I’d previously read TOXICITY and HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS. Both were awesome and you should be reading these now if you haven’t already. CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES is published by Fangoria, WTF! I have about a hundred back issues of Fango in my parent’s attic. If you are my age you will know what this magazine means to people who love horror. Fan-fucking-goria! Wow!

CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES is about two guys, the main character, Ted. Or Teddy as his buddy often calls him, and Justin. Ted’s wife has just left him and he can’t go on without her. He doesn’t want to go on without her. Then out of the blue his old best friend, Justin, calls him up, demands he goes to see him. Ted doesn’t want to go, refuses. He’s got enough on his plate, but after some persuasion he agrees to go. Justin has a story to tell. Ted doesn’t want to hear Justin’s shit, but deep down he doesn’t want to kill himself either. Ted drives to the rundown shithole Justin calls home and over Mackie D’s Justin starts to tell a story about how it became a werewolf. Does Ted believe him? Of course he fucking doesn’t. Now you, the reader, will have to buy the book and find out what the hell happens.

CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES is a great book. I couldn’t put it down. I blazed through it which proves how good it is. Max Booth can write, but I already knew that. What I also know is Booth is getting better with each book. The story is a simple premise, what hooks you is the great dialogue between the two characters. They’re a couple of punks who have moved on with their lives, but deep down remain the same, young at heart, and in a way, still living in the past. I loved this book, laughed out loud reading it, and I think you’ll love it too! (Jack Bantry)

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Past Indiscretions: The Very Best of Splatterpunk Zine

Past Indiscretions: The Very Best of Splatterpunk Zine

13 stories of classic splatterpunk taken from the pages of the cult horror zine, featuring some of the best writers working in the field of horror fiction: Tim Curran, Brendan Vidito, Shane McKenzie, Bracken MacLeod, Kit Power, WD Gagliani & David Benton, Monica J O’Rourke, Ryan C Thomas, Nathan Robinson, Ryan Harding, Jeff Strand, Adam Cesare and JF Gonzalez.

Published by Splatterpunk Zine and available on Kindle and Paperback

Praise for Splatterpunk Zine:

“Splatterpunk Zine is 100% the real deal, and if seedy-but-brilliantly-written hardcore horror is your pleasure, guilty or otherwise, I’d say this zine is essential reading.” – Ginger Nuts of Horror”

This is an old school handmade hardcore horror fiction zine… I liked it a lot.” – Mark Sieber, Horror Drive-In

“Bantry is providing a great time for fans of horror fiction. If you haven’t jumped on this viscera-covered bandwagon, what are you waiting for?” – Sean Leonard, HorrorNews.net

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