In between reading horror and high fantasy novels, I make time to read splatterpunk. Splatterpunk is a cool word for the subgenre of extreme horror, and it’s not for the easily offended or squeamish.
For me, they’re some of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read in any genre. Relentless and gut-wrenching, splatterpunk is the most cathartic literature on the planet.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the news that extreme horror is getting a little more notoriety with the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards. Wrath James White and Brian Keene, two of the greatest horror writers of all time, are co-founders of the Splatterpunk Awards, lending the credibility and gravitas that the honors deserve.
“Works on the ballot were selected by fans and readers,” according to a press release dated Feb. 5. “Winners in each category will be voted on by the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jury (and) announced at the inaugural Splatterpunk Awards ceremony taking place August 24th through the 26th at KillerCon in Austin, Texas.”
For information on KillerCon, click here.
As a fan of splatterpunk novels for almost a decade, I struggle to recommend them to friends. I go overboard in trying to warn them about the content.
For example, when I tell them that Wrath James White’s The Resurrectionist made me physically cringe in some parts, or Bryan Smith’s Depraved made The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like a Disney cartoon, they look at me like “whatever.”
Then, they start reading.
Soon after, they start saying things to me like:
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“That’s sick, man, just sick.”
“How can you read this?”
They just don’t get it. Reading extreme horror novels is so much more intense than watching gory movies. I think it’s because there are no bad actors or bad special effects in novels like there are in films. The movie in your mind inserts the cutting-edge performances and special effects inspired by a well-written splatterpunk novel better than any film.
So, I developed a litmus test for people before I recommend any extreme horror to them. Using my extensive journalism background, I ask them ten simple yet probing questions.
- “Did the dripping nose scene in The Blair Witch Project scare you?”
- “Did the leg-shaving scene in Cabin Fever gross you out?”
- “Did anything in The Walking Dead make you look away from the TV screen?”
- “Is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the phrase ‘inbred cannibals’ disturbing?”
- “Did Evil Dead make you scared to rent a cabin in the woods or read books written in human blood?”
- “Are the remakes and/or sequels of the 1970s versions of The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave better than the originals?”
- “Did Hostel make you second-guess a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe or cringe during the eyeball scene?”
- “Did the ending of the original Martyrs answer all your questions about the afterlife?”
- “Did you think The Devil’s Rejects was too nihilistic?”
- “Is The Human Centipede the latest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?”
If they answer YES to any of the questions, I don’t recommend my extreme horror favorites to them.
My first splatterpunk novel
My introduction to splatterpunk was a paperback titled The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White. It’s a top ten all-time favorite, and it’s nothing like I expected when I started reading it.
It’s about an emotionally stunted man named Dale who has the ability to heal and bring people back to life. Sounds like the start of the feel-good novel of the year, except Dale is a serious nut job and uses his power to sate his sick desires. The climax is one of the greatest endings in horror. But the sex and violence are extreme. Like really extreme.
Should you read it? I say yes but I refer you back to my ten-question litmus test.
Don’t take my word for it. In a 5-star Amazon review by New York Times bestselling horror author Jonathan Maberry, he wrote:
“Wrath James White does not write books for wimps. He doesn’t write books for the faint-hearted or for anyone looking for a quiet cosy mystery to while away an evening. Wrath writes stories that drip blood. There are razor blades on every page. You pick up one of his books expecting it to be dangerous, and it always is. The Resurrectionist is classic Wrath. A twisted plot, twisted even further by a writing style that is as relentless as it is lush.”
Right now, my favorite extreme horror author is Bryan Smith. He consistently publishes outstanding splatterpunk. Depraved and The Killing Kind are my favorites, but I haven’t read a bad one yet.
My Amazon review of Depraved reads in part:
“Imagine the bloodiest blend of the movies I Spit on Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deliverance, and then ramp up the sex and violence by a factor of 10 and you have a sense of how depraved Depraved is. Not for the faint of heart or most decent folks, Depraved is pure grind house. It’s the best kind of hard-core horror because it’s written for fans of the genre, which means no PG-13 cop-out scenes and no easy way out.”
Of course, White and Smith aren’t the only top-notch authors of extreme horror. And the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards prove it.
Among the nominees, I’m familiar with about one-third of the authors, and I’ve read Edward Lee, Matt Shaw, Jeff Strand, and the late Jack Ketchum. In fact, I cite Strand and Ketchum as two major influences on my own writing.
I plan to use the nominee list below to add to my splatterpunk to-be-read pile. It looks like I’ll have another dozen or so authors to check out.
Here are the nominees for the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards.
CONTAINMENT by Charlee Jacob (Necro Publications)
EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz (Sinister Grin Press)
THE HEMATOPHAGES by Stephen Kozeniewski (Sinister Grin Press)
SPERMJACKERS FROM HELL by Christine Morgan (Deadite Press)
WHITE TRASH GOTHIC by Edward Lee (Deadite Press)
THE BIG BAD by K. Trap Jones (Necro Publications)
DAMN DIRTY APES by Adam Howe (Thunderstorm Books)
HEADER 3 by Edward Lee and Ryan Harding (Necro Publications)
KILLER CHRONICLES by Somer Canon (Thunderstorm Books)
THE LUCKY ONES DIED FIRST by Jack Bantry (Deadite Press)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Dirty Desk” by Jeffrey Thomas, from CHOPPING BLOCK PARTY (Necro Publications)
“Extinction Therapy” by Bracken MacLeod, from SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK (Splatterpunk Zine)
“Melvin” by Matt Shaw, from SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK (Splatterpunk Zine)
“Molly” by Glenn Rolfe, from SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK (Splatterpunk Zine)
“The Tipping Point” by Jeff Strand, from EVERYTHING HAS TEETH (Thunderstorm Books)
2017: A YEAR OF HORROR AND PAIN, PART ONE by Matt Shaw (Amazon Digital Services)
EVERYTHING HAS TEETH by Jeff Strand (Thunderstorm Books)
THE GARDEN OF DELIGHT by Alessandro Manzetti (Comet Press)
GORILLA IN MY ROOM by Jack Ketchum (Cemetery Dance Publications)
CHOPPING BLOCK PARTY, edited by Brendan Deneen and David G. Barnett (Necro Publications)
DOA III, edited by Marc Ciccarone and Andrea Dawn (Blood Bound Books)
SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK, edited by Jack Bantry and Kit Power (Splatterpunk Zine)
VS:X: U.S. VS U.K. EXTREME HORROR, edited by Dawn Cano (Shadow Work Publishing)
YEAR’S BEST HARDCORE HORROR VOLUME 2, edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax (Comet Press)
J.F. GONZALEZ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: David J. Schow
Good luck to all the nominees! If you have a splatterpunk recommendation, let me know. I promise I answered NO to all ten questions of the litmus test, so I can handle it.
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