The spirit of D.I.Y. is alive and well within the pages of Jack Bantry’s Splatterpunk, but just because it has the look of an old cut and paste style, made in your basement, punk zine doesn’t mean it’s lacking in quality. The complete opposite, actually; these forty pages are packed with great in your face, extreme horror fiction. Not only that, but we also get some interviews, some book reviews, and a little bit of non-fiction in the form of an essay that most all of us can surely relate to.
This issue starts things off with a short essay by bizarro author (Shatnerquest, Cripple Wolf) and head editor at Deadite Press, Jeff Burk. Appropriately titled “You Sick F*ck, or Why I Love Extreme Horror,” the essay speaks directly to us, the category III horror fans, the ones who scan the many internet lists of “Top Ten Grossest Movies” and get frustrated at their longer lists of exclusions. Reading it is kind of like talking to a good friend, or to ourselves, and we can’t help but smile knowing that yes, there is at least one more of us out there.
As far as the featured fiction in this issue, there’s a handful of really good stories. In “I’m On My,” Shane McKenzie tells the story of Morris, a man who finally gets the big promotion he has been working toward for so long. Excited to surprise his expectant wife with the good news, he goes all out, picking up some goodies for her, some flowers and a nice take-out dinner. But there’s a reason that they always tell us not to text and drive, and Morris finds that out the hard way.
“A Bit of Christmas Mayhem, “ by Jeff Strand, plays on the more slapstick side of splatter, with a real character named Andrew Mayhem finding himself trapped in an alley late at night with three axe-wielding Santa Clauses. We get some snappy dialogue and a little bit of St. Nick-themed horror trivia when the three jolly fellows begin bickering over their choice of holiday apparel.
“Wicking” is a collaborative effort between Robert Essig and the editor himself, Jack Bantry. Wicking is the neighborhood outcast, having been disfigured in a horrible accident early in his life and now playing the role of recluse and creep. His brother Lukas can’t stand him and wishes he’d just go away, but feels indebted to him for his having saved Lukas’ life when they were young, that incident being the disfiguring one. And so Lukas tries to save his brother from the public spotlight by getting him out of trouble, and bringing him beer. And women. But when Wicking goes overboard after his feelings are hurt, and a prostitute never returns from her appointment at the house, even bigger trouble comes along.
The fourth, and final, story of the issue is by J. F. Gonzalez and is titled “Ricochet.” Nick and Ken work together in a typical office setting. Nick is a father and husband, but has recently found himself the victim of a nasty, abusive relationship. This is when Ken tells him of a special website that he found, a search engine that only delivers the very best search results to your queries. When Nick tries it out, searching “I want to move to California,” he quickly sees how great the site is. But things, as we all have learned by now, are often not as they seem. In a very Rod Serling/Alfred Hitchock Presents style, Gonzalez draws us in and builds the tension right before our eyes, then pulls the rug right from below our feet with a real killer of an ending.
Alongside the four great short stories, we also have a couple interviews. John Skipp and Shane McKenzie talk about their roots in the extreme horror circuit and recommend some great new books. J. F. Gonzalez discusses the life of a horror writer and talks about the behind the scenes of the recent collaborative splatterpunk novel, Sixty-Five Stirrup Iron Road. On top of all this, we also get some artwork by Glenn Chadbourne, Jim Agpalza, Daniele Serra, and a cover by Dan Henk. Throw in some book reviews by Bantry and the master of the review, Gabino Iglesias, of a couple great Sinister Grin Press releases (as well as Adam Cesare’s The Summer Job, a book yours truly reviewed earlier this year), and it comes as no surprise that each of the first four issues of Splatterpunk have sold out. Be on your toes when it comes to issue number five, it’s sure to be another classic.