I don’t know about you, fellow horror reader, but as soon as I finished reading issue 4 of Jack Bantry’s Splatterpunk zine, I immediately began my impatient wait for issue number 5 to come off the presses. My impatience wasn’t due to any kind of lag between issues (actually, the next one came out pretty quick), but rather because that issue was so good, so full of great writing and visceral images, that it left me hungry for blood… or more words, at least. Well, we’re in luck, as the fifth issue is now available and full of all the great things that you have come to expect from Splatterpunk and more.
Issue five begins with some editorials, starting with the creator and editor himself, Mr. Jack Bantry, sending out an open letter to horror writers and fans alike to create more zines. He’s not afraid of “competition,” he speaks as a fan first, and it’s a breath of fresh air to read his encouraging words and his call for a zine revival. Keeping up the positive mental attitude, Shane McKenzie follows this up with some writing advice.
He shares some of his own practices and experiences, and it all boils down to such a simple statement: you want to be a writer, then keep writing. To finish up, Nathan Robinson gives a little history of the zombie, concentrating more on how, exactly, the idea of the living dead attacking us has made its way from low-budget horror films we talked about amongst close friends to the mainstream, money-making, prime-time television shows we talk about with everyone at work.
On to the fiction, and this issue brings us four very powerful short stories from four very strong writers. Last issue was great, but this one tops it. And we start with a familiar name, at least to the loyal readers of my reviews and to fans of horror fiction with good taste: Adam Cesare. I congratulated The Summer Job for being one of my favorite books of the last few years, I raved about how The First One You Expect spoke directly to so many of us horror nerds, and now I get to bring to you, faithful HorrorNews visitor, a short story called “So Bad.” This is a story about the VHS collector, and we see a lot of familiar things here. It opens with a collector finding a movie that is obviously trying to look like a Death Wish movie. He finds a Wizard big box copy of Oasis of the Zombies. And he finds a blank tape, one that intrigues him enough to bring home and put right in. And when he hits play is when this becomes a little like Cronenberg’s Videodrome, a little like a nightmare out of Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, and a little like a Heiko Fipper DVD-extra. I’m not giving spoilers, but there’s a reason this story has been getting a lot of hype. Perfect way to open a zine.
Monica O’Rourke follows with “This Is My Flesh,” a story that puts on paper scenes that might fit in the upcoming American Guinea Pig films. It’s gory, it’s nasty, and it keeps your eyes glued to the page while you repeat to yourself, over and over, “this is just a zine, this is just a zine.” We watch helplessly as a woman is tortured, humiliated, put through hell, and just keeps on taking it. There are all kinds of bodily fluids leaking out of this story, not to mention flesh-eating that somehow manages to make the simple phrase “flesh-eating” seem tame. And then, just when it seems like it couldn’t get any worse, the guy brings in the woman’s daughter. You’ll be tempted to leave this story, to avert your eyes, but don’t. I promise you, you don’t want to miss the end.
There are two authors in the horror genre right now that I cannot get enough of – one is our friend Cesare, and the other is Shane McKenzie – and they are both in these pages. McKenzie’s story, “You Don’t Need Eyes To See Us,” is for anyone who loves their demonic possession stories with extra helpings of creepy and lots of gore. I could imagine younger me recording this movie off tv and hiding it from my parents, and by this, I mean it’s awesome. It starts with some kids playing with a Ouija board, and from the very first paragraph, we already know something is wrong, and by the very last paragraph we can’t help but look out the window to check that our moon hasn’t turned blood red. This is another story that I don’t want to give any spoilers on, but when you get to the part where something is happening in the room that grandma is sleeping in, and you reach the meaning of the title, I’ll tell you this: hold on, it only gets scarier.
The last story in this issue is “Down By the Ocean,” by John Boden. This is short, less than one page long, but it just goes to prove that sometimes you can get the best scares with simple, but effective, word choices. Something has washed up onto the shore, and a small town’s worth of people are curious as to what it is. Maybe it’s a whale? Maybe a giant squid? But don’t touch it, lest ye find out the truth.
We close out with an interview with another familiar name, Jeff Burk. He’s not only a writer (see Cripple Wolf, Shatnerquake, Shatnerquest, and more), but also head editor over at Deadite Press, a horror imprint of Eraserhead Press that has put out titles by everyone from Edward Lee and Brian Keene to Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus of GWAR (r.i.p.). Also included in the issue are illustrations by Dan Henk, Jim Agpalza, Frank Hall, and Daniele Serra, and book reviews of some cool new horror novels. And as of right this second, there are still copies of this issue available (see splatterpunkzine.bigcartel.com/ to get your copy). Don’t be surprised if this one sells out just as the previous ones have, and with good reason – if you’re looking for a horror zine that belongs at the top of the (relatively small) heap, look no further than Splatterpunk. Now, to wait for issue six…