Books by Paul M. Sammon

SPLATTERPUNKS II by Paul M. Sammon
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A mosaic of viscera, excrement, sex, and degradation whirls before our eyes in this anthology of stories and essays that run the gamut from lame and pretentious to genuinely stunning. Sammon, a former film publicist turned literary schlockmeister (he edited Splatterpunks, 1990), introduces this volume with the boast, ``They're bad. They're back. They're women.'' Yes, female authors and characters do feature heavily in this Splatpack, but stories like Sammon's own flaccid entry, ``Within You, Without You'' (in which a rock band sexually mutilates a female teenage groupie on video), and essays such as Martin Amis's self-serving, decade-old interview of filmmaker Brian DePalma (whose oeuvre includes the sexist classics Body Double and Dressed to Kill) serve as a curious counterpoint to the stated focus. Among the better entries are Gorman Bechard's ``Pig,'' a wickedly funny tale about an all-woman vigilante hit squad in 21st-century Los Angeles that simultaneously evokes Philip K. Dick and the frenetic violence of Japanese adult comics; Nancy A. Collins's ``Rant,'' a chilling glimpse into the mind of a deluded messiah; Anya Martin's ``Rockin' the Midnight Hour,'' which examines the connections between horror and rock; and ``Calling Dr. Satan,'' Jim Goad's interview with Anton LaVey, self-proclaimed ``Black Pope'' of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. A genre that alternately craves and shuns acceptance, Splatterpunk is (for those not familiar with buzzwords used to pigeonhole literature) an amalgam of slasher films, brooding metal/Goth-inspired rock, and basic naughtiness disguised as nihilism; the editor describes it as ``a method. An attitude. A state of mind.'' This exercise in combining incongruous media elements into one discordant whole could be the real cutting edge—but Sammon dulls it in introductory passages whose smugness and hipster wannabe posturing frequently undermine the authors' contributions. Read full book review >
THE KING IS DEAD by Paul M. Sammon
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A tribute to Dead Elvis that ranges from campy and fun to morbid and strange, from inventive and clever to weird and just plain dumb. Sammon (editor of Splatterpunks, 1990, etc.) collects stories and essays with two simple guidelines in mind: Elvis must appear in some way, shape, or form, and Elvis must be dead. This means that serious critiques like Lou Reed's sadly sentimental ``Damaged Goods,'' which questions Elvis's sense of self, and Greil Marcus's somewhat underdeveloped assertion that ``Elvis was less a recognizable symbol [like Madonna or Sinead O'Connor], than a symbol of recognizability'' in ``Someone You Never Forget'' are interspersed with a wide range of fiction. Some stories, like Victor Koman's ``The Eagle Cape,'' in which he saves a young girl from her abusive father, feature Elvis as a powerful centerpiece. Others turn him into a meaningless walk-on. In Del James's ``Backstage,'' a heroin-abusing member of a famous rock band checks out in the middle of a lovemaking session with a groupie and everyone from Morrison and Hendrix to The King step in to finish what he started. Too often we're left imagining Sammon saying, ``Just stick him in there somewhere and I'll put you in the book.'' Among the better entries is Harlan Ellison's ``The Pale Silver Dollar of the Moon Pays Its Way and Makes Change,'' the somber story of Jessie Garon, Elvis's twin brother, who, in this story, didn't die at birth and is responsible for the many Elvis sightings. Among the worst is Joe R. Lansdales's ``(Bubba Ho-Tep),'' which spends too much time on The King's hard-ons. Though old curly lip remains an enticing phenomenon, too much bad writing leaves the reader all shook up and itchin like a man on a fuzzy tree. Read full book review >

A forceful anthology-cum-manifesto of splatterpunk—the violent, sexy, anything-goes cutting edge of horror. Sammon, a horror writer (Twilight Zone Magazine) and film critic, rounds up 16 splatterpunk stories old and new, as well as an essay on hard-core splatter films and a particularly noxious chapter censored from Ray Garton's Crucifax Autumn (1988) by its paperback reprinter; but by far the most significant entry here is "Outlaws," Sammon's own long essay on the field. In it, he offers an informed if adulatory survey of splatterpunk, with penetrating looks at its four main proponents (all young: Clive Barker, John Skipp & Craig Specter, David Schow) and, most importantly, makes a strong case for splatterpunk as valuable, morally confrontational art. The stories bear out his claim, but also go far to explain why splatterpunk has alienated many editors and horror writers. Among the strongest pieces are Joe R. Lansdale's "Night They Missed the Horrow Show," a powerful parable in which rednecks playing at evil run up against the real thing; Douglas E. Winter's "Less Than Zombie," a parody that out-chills Bret Easton Ellis; two tales of necrophilia, George R. Martin's "Meathouse Man" (prostitute corpses) and Roberta Lannes's "Goodbye, Dark Love" (child abuse-necrophiliac incest); Clive Barker's classic "The Midnight Meat Train"; and two dark gems by Richard Christian Matheson. Emblematic of the worst of the field is Rex Miller's "Reunion Moon," scatological juvenilia; but then there's the astonishing "City of Angels," debut fiction by J.S. Russell, whose black-humored chronicle of post-holocaust baby-eating mutants packs a backhanded, unforgettable blow. Off-the-charts for sex and gore, but bursting with energy, passion, and original visions: an authoritative and intelligent collection for horror fans willing to go all the way. Read full book review >