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SPLATTERPUNKS by Paul M. Sammon

SPLATTERPUNKS

Extreme Horror

By Paul M. Sammon

Publisher: St. Martin's

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.