First published back in September of 2016, ‘Splatterpunk’s Not Dead’ formed the first anthology to come from ‘Splatterpunk Zine’s creator Jack Bantry.

Punk Is Horror: An Introduction – Jeff Burk – 3 Pages
Bizarro favourite Jeff Burk offers up a wonderfully passionate and praise-filled introduction to the anthology, reminding us to not forget the ‘Punk’ element in ‘Splatterpunk’.  Burk references the comparisons that are often made between horror and metal – then noting how punk would perhaps make a better fit with splatterpunk.  Following this, Burk embraces the whole DIY culture of punk and the zines that followed, championing Splatterpunk Zine’s Jack Bantry as the man who’s brought this much missed DIY ethos back into our lives.  And I for one wholeheartedly agree.  If I had my way, Bantry would be at the very top of next year’s honours list.  Not that I’d expect for one minute that he’d accept the knighthood.

Another Bunch Of Flowers By The Road – Nathan Robinson – 13 Pages
It was another calm, blue-skied Monday morning.  But today was going to be like no other.  After tragically losing his entire family, his world had descended into an abyss of despair and irrecoverable misery.  It hadn’t taken him long to realise he had nothing left to live for.  That his life, as it had once been, was now irreversibly over.  All he had left was the chance to cause one last dent upon the world.  To end it all in a blaze of hideous, unfathomable horror.  He’d spent all the life insurance money he’d received.  All the equity they’d built up on the family house had gone into the project.  Everything.  But now it was ready.  His metallic beast of devastation.  His way out.  His final stamp upon this cruel world…

What an opener!  Those that follow the reviews over at DLS will have noticed that I’ve become increasingly impressed with what British author Nathan Robinson’s been offering up.  Often cold-hearted and uncompromising – Robinson knows how to deliver a story that penetrates past the reader’s protective epidermis and into the deeper subcutaneous tissue where the malignancy can fester.  His contribution to this anthology is absolutely no exception.  What we have is one pissed off, grief-ridden fella who’s lost his entire family and so he’s decided to take it out on the world in one bigass blaze of murderous destruction.  The plot’s as simple as that.  Yeah – it’s the stuff of pulp.  It’s got all the key ingredients of a proper splatterpunk tale.  You know it’s going to get messy.  You know things aren’t going to end in a nice way.  In fact it makes ‘Falling Down’ (1993) look more like a minor spat in comparison.

High Fashion – Robert Essig - 13 Pages
When fashion guru Samantha Waite – founder of Waite Fashion – tells you that your work no longer has the same energy about it, you take note.  Jordan Theaker had tried to convince himself that he had what it took to be a fashion mogul.  But if truth be told, he was probably still just riding on the waves of his early creations.  He’d now come away from his meeting with Samantha feeling cut down.  He needed to get back that creative magic he’d had when his designs first exploded on the scene.  He’d have to get back into that same frame of mind.  Somehow rekindle the flame of creative originality.  The first thing he could do to achieve this was get Kyle Knotts back into his life.  After all the guy had the perfect form for his designs.  The perfect canvas for his work…

Desperately seeking to rekindle a potentially lost creativity can produce some pretty gnarly results.  Anyone who’s been there will know how utterly, painfully frustrating it can be.  Should your livelihood and your professional reputation be at stake, the pressure to produce must tear away at your insides.  You’ll no doubt do almost anything to get back in the game.  Plenty of potential for a splatterpunk story then!  And indeed, that’s what this grim little tale’s all about.  Okay, so it’s probably more of a slowburner than you’d probably expect from within a splatterpunk anthology.  In fact, Essig leaves all of the gritty treats until the very end.  Yeah, you kind of knew it’ll come down to something like that from quite early on.  But the final gut-punch of visceral nastiness is still impactful and makes following Jordy’s slippery descent oh so very worth it.

Beware! The! Beverage – Jeff Strand – 9 Pages
Had Malcolm or Charlie known that the secret ingredient in Rocketship Energy Drink was a drop of Martian blood, then perhaps they wouldn’t have even tried it.  However, as with the rest of the world’s population, they gave the sugary energy drink a sip and from that moment on they were hooked.  It was hard not to be.  The drink made you feel like the most powerful person in the world.  And what was wrong with that?  After all, how could something that made you feel so energetic have a downside?  Surely things that made you feel good were rarely harmful...right?...

Oh Jeff Strand you are a quirky, oddball of a fella aren’t you?!  Don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the most respectful of ways.  After all, who couldn’t love a short story about an energy drink that makes people want to punch off other people’s heads in pure ‘Fist Of The North Star’ (1983 - 1988) fashion.  Okay, so this little treat would probably be more at home in a Bizarro anthology rather than one dedicated to splatterpunk – but fuck it - that’s just splitting hairs.  It’s short and sweet and throws down some honest-to-god wackiness with a read Duncan P. Bradshaw flavour to its colourful weirdness.  Oh the fun!

Eggbeater – Saul Bailey – 14 Pages
Dale Earle Ray was known better as ‘Eggbeater’ or simply ‘Egg’ for short.  This was on account of the eggbeater he had where his manhood should be.  It was something he had been born with.  His mother said it just made him more special, but it was still best to keep it quiet.  So he kept it hidden in baggy joggers and never mentioned it to others.  However, around the time puberty hit, young Dale started having strange feelings around baking.  His mother never baked at home, but Lisa-May from across the way did on a daily basis.  The smell of it would drive him crazy.  His eggbeater would bulge out from his joggers at the mere thought of it.  After a while it became intolerable.  And so he finally plucked up the courage to knock on Lisa-May’s door to see if he could lend a hand…or an eggbeater…

Here we have another batshit crazy Bizarro-style story.  A young pubescent boy born with an eggbeater where his cock should be.  Trust me, that really isn’t the half of it.  Saul Bailey’s got a whole lot more wackiness to come.  In fact, young Dale’s going to discover the joys of becoming a man in his own special eggbeater way.  Expect more crude euphemisms and completely undisguised sexual connotations than you can shake a batter slick eggbeater at.  Yeah, you guessed it, sweet trailer wife Lisa-May is going to get that eggbeater going off all over her kitchen; splattering batter and cake mixture everywhere.  Oh my!

Please Subscribe – Adam Cesare – 13 Pages
Melody Bliss’ first video was uploaded exactly one month ago.  Straight away you could tell she was uncertain of what she was doing.  Who and how many she would be broadcasting to.  She wasn’t nervous; just appeared to be without much purpose or direction.  But there was an innocent enthusiasm about her that instantly won you over.  You could tell from the well-formed, carefree face and shoulders in the camera shot that she wasn’t someone who obsessed about their figure.  She seemed natural.  Friendly.  Adorable.  It would be fair to say that she’d won the hearts of her viewers from that first tentative video.  The next video, uploaded just one week later, merely consolidated that feeling.  This was definitely a channel to subscribe to.  Definitely a person to follow.  To watch as her loveable innocence was gradually dissolved away before your very eyes…

I love this one.  Literally from the first line you’re hooked.  It’s written from the first-person-perspective of a semi-obsessive subscriber to Melody Bliss’ online videos, who pretty much scrutinises each and every aspect of her broadcasts.  There’s a veritable bucket load of contemporary quirkiness about the setting, the make-up of the piece, and its voyeuristic qualities.  And ‘voyeuristic’ really is the absolute key word here.  The entire short is focussed upon the voyeuristic nature of peering into the life of another and subsequently analysing each and every element of what can be seen – no matter how trivial.  However it’s the way in which author Adam Cesare describes the videos, the way this particular subscriber homes into certain details and obsesses over them, that really draws you in.  It makes you want to read more.  To learn more.  To find out what’s going to happen to this happy-go-lucky college girl.  Of course Cesare keeps you hanging on until the very last page or so.  Accordingly there’s one bastard of a build-up until we’re there.  Such an almost palpable tension that mounts behind the façade on show; complimented by Cesare’s perfectly detached style of the writing.  Quite simply put – this is an incredible piece of voyeuristic fiction.  Absolutely love it.

Abstinence – Shane McKenzie – 8 Pages
Vanessa and Brent had decided to meet up and experiment with each other.  The hardest part was finding a place to go.  Being of a Christian upbringing, the young lovers didn’t want it to be in any way sordid.  And definitely not sinful.  So they needed to have rules.  Absolutely no touching down there was definitely a ground rule.  The rest they agreed would probably be ok.  They’d just have to see how they got on.  Lucky Vanessa had done her research…

Shane McKenzie’s up next with a sleazy little offering that sees two young lovers tenderly exploring each other’s bodies for the first time.  It’s another quite surprising contribution that doesn’t exactly feel all that ‘splatterpunk’.  In fact it would possibly be more at home nestled within the grubby pages of a jazz mag than an anthology like this.  Although that’s not to say that it’s not well written and still a damn entertaining little read.  For a short, sweet and delightfully sordid read, this grubby coming-of-age story will more than likely spread a big dirty-old-man’s grin across your face.

The Androgyne – Brendan Vidito – 8 Pages
Whilst driving home from the movies on a Saturday night, Haden and Daphne were overcome by a lustful desire for each other’s flesh, and so pulled into a secluded spot and made passionate love there and then under the silvery moonlight.  After their coupling, the two lay side-by-side, basking in the post-coital glow of their lovemaking.  And it’s then that the pale cartilaginous hook emerged from Haden’s hip, simultaneously piercing the skin on Daphne’s.  The couple, deeply in love at the time, accepted the fusing of their bodies.  Now, after the passing of time had a chance to reveal the reality of a life fused with another, the two found that they longed for something different.  Which is why they’d come to the candle lit motel room.  It was time they severed themselves from one another…

Here we go boys and girls.  Author Brendan Vidito serves up a festering dish of Clive Barker-esque horror, delivered in a cold and decidedly callous manner in order to thoroughly chill your blood.  Here we have flesh and hooks and knives and blood and weird dark ceremonies.  Furthermore Vidito approaches the story in a mindfuck of confusion, only gradually (but not entirely) clearing it away over the course of the short tale.  It’s pretty damn twisted and bathed in a gallon of numbing horror.  The gut-churning, unpredictable grisliness of the story is just what the doctor ordered.  In fact it’s the calling card of splatterpunk.  The good stuff.  Brendan Vidito – you frigging nailed it.

Walter’s Last Canvas – Paul Shrimpton – 19 Pages
Walter Heimbach had led a solitary life.  As a struggling, near-alcoholic artist, he had spent his life scraping by each month; living within a grubby bedsit with little to no possessions of his own.  His relations had all long since died or disowned him.  It was a sad and lonely existence.  His only solace found within a bottle.  Either that or the hope that his cleaner, Marjorie, would one day give in to his constant advances.  However when an exceptionally rare book of alchemy and witchcraft, known simply as the ‘Diabolist’, came within his possession, Walter saw a chance to finally rid himself of his loneliness and misery.  What if this holy grail of incantations actually worked?  He could return himself to the handsome young man of his youth.  But first he had to undergo the necessary ritual.  He had to paint the new man he wanted to become.  And then finally he had to die…

Paul Shrimpton throws down a decidedly downbeat and grim short story to end the anthology with.  From the start Shrimpton drenches his tale in gloomy and utterly oppressive misery as he paints the sad picture of a man whose life has been far for joyful.  It’s a textbook set up for a gritty horror short.  And Shrimpton mines the backdrop for all the melancholy he can bring out of it, like a master of depression and unending woe.  However the real strength in the short is undeniably with the incredible depth of detail that Shrimpton is able to submerge the reader within.  When poor old Walter decides it’s finally time to take his life, the sheer wealth of descriptive detail exhibited in the man’s horrendous death is nothing short of gut-wrenching.  Indeed, it’s these parts to the story that work their way under your skin and make the story the fucked-up success it undeniably is.  So much more so than the (admittedly quite imaginatively executed) twist ending.  For dank and dirt and malignancy from start to finish, this story delivers.

The anthology runs for a total of 100 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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