Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
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Tag Archives: Splatterpunk
by Bracken MacLeod
I was five the year Jaws came out, and like all little kids who don’t know how to swim, I had a pretty genetic fear of drowning. That got turned all the way up that summer when (long story, better told elsewhere) I was deliberately thrown into a lake and almost drowned. As you might imagine, that trauma left me with a life-long hang-up about water. I don’t like being on it in a boat, I sure as hell don’t like being in it (I shower), and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go all the way under it. So, later in life when Jaws came out on home video, you can understand, I never had the desire to see it.
It wasn’t the shark; it was the water.
I like sharks. I like them better than people a lot of the time. I think about them the way Ash thinks about the xenomorph in Alien: I admire their purity. They’re “unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.” Of course, unlike the alien, they’re fucking real!
Eventually, I rented Jaws, but it took me a couple of tries to get through the whole thing. It’s the first ten minutes that’s the big hurdle. Let me explain. We open on a bunch of kids sitting around a fire on the beach looking like an ad for Swedish tourism. Chrissy gets up and leads drunken, horny Tom on a chase through the dunes, stripping off her clothes and diving in the ocean as he passes out, unable to even get his shirt over his head. “I’m not drunk! Slow down! Wait I’m coming! I’m coming! I’m definitely coming!” She swims out in the dark, and we get that first two-note music cue. You know the one. Duun-un. And then the shark’s POV rising underneath her as she’s treading water, naked and vulnerable, presumably wondering what happened to horny Tom.
Now, the next few moments are terrifying. She is jerked down, once, twice, and then whipped violently around, thrashing in the water—not all that realistically for a shark attack, one suspects, but still, it’s good and scary. The beast drags her over to a buoy and it seems for a moment she might be able to climb up and out to safety, but NOPE! The shark (a.k.a. “Bruce”—named after Spielberg’s lawyer) pulls her away for a few short screams of “NO!” and down she goes under the water. And this is the very point at which my worst fears are most on outward display for anyone who’s paying attention.
Only seconds ago, Chrissy was a living human out for some fun. Then her life telescopes down into its last moments, the entirety of her future… in the water. And then, there’s the shot of Tom passed out in the quiet surf, followed by the lingering view of the open ocean and the softly dinging buoy. A quiet scene of peace following terror.
And that’s the point at which my anxiety goes off the fuckin’ charts. Not the first bites, not the thrashing, or the screaming. The silence where we all know that there’s a human being in the water who wants to live, who wants to breathe and be back on land, and instead all we see and hear is the water and the bell.
There’s something primal in that opening. And it’s not the shark. It’s the water. The source of all life on Earth is bigger than us, and we are not at home in it. The shark is. And it cares not at all for us.
The beginning of Jaws is pure existential terror, and it scares the shit out of me.
I still can’t swim.
Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children’s non-profit, and as a criminal and civil trial attorney. His short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies including Shotgun Honey, Sex and Murder Magazine, LampLight, Dread: A Head Full of Bad Dreams, Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women, Beat to a Pulp, Splatterpunk, and Shock Totem Magazine.
He is the author of Mountain Home, White Knight, and his newest novel, Stranded, from TOR Books is available for pre-order.
Splatterpunk has been a favorite of mine since I first received their second issue in the mail about two years ago. I love the old D.I.Y. look and feel of the thing. I also love the fact that Jack Bantry and his project have a growing legion of fans. He has also begun release chapbooks in the interim between issue releases.
Splatterpunk #7 is more of the same stuff they are known for; short and brutal tales of the horrific and sometimes strange. The issue opens with an article by Bizarro patriarch, Jeff Burk, an article in which he defends his adoration for film maker Eli Roth.
This gets us to the first story by Kristopher Rufty called “The Chomper.” A wildly off beat tale that has a familiar set up and arc but with a unique spin on the monster of the tale. A perfect small town that has a high price to pay for being allowed to live there. But instead of a beastly troll from the nearby woods or anything, we get a monster from a 1970’s Ed “Big Daddy” Roth decal. I loved it.
Jeff Strand gives us the second tale. He along with Cesare are becoming Splatterpunk veterans. In his story, “Awakening” a man with a disturbing hobby and a penchant for denial comes face to face with the consequences of his actions. Garrett Cook delivers a batshit tale that oozes dysfunction, brutality and mutilation with “Pas De Deux.” And the honor of closing out the issue falls upon Adam Cesare, one of the genre darlings and with good reason-he’s wonderful! His short “Readings off the charts,” shows us the outcome of a paranormal investigation at an abandoned mental hospital. All that is a really wordy way of saying Splatterpunk #7 is another solid issue.
Travelling across the pond with the above mentioned issue was the chapbook, Atrocious Madness. This trio of stories was written by Splatterpunk editor, Jack Bantry and Nathan Robinson. It begins with a story of death and toads called “Squish.” This collaborative story appeared in an earlier issue of Splatterpunk.
The second tale is entitled “Keep Safe” and is a Jack Bantry solo offering that concerns home invaders who pay a unique price for their greed when they stumble upon one house’s cellar secret.
The final story is by Nathan Robinson and is called “Weather Girl.” A bizarre and unsettling account of a young man with an obsessive crush on the local TV weather girl. When the crush elevates to stalking, things take a strange and disturbing twist…and just get twistier.
Another fine offering from this little press. These are great days for horror fiction and Splatterpunk is a great return to bloody roots.
Both might still be available via Splatterpunk Press.
I first encountered Craig Wallwork via one of the best anthologies I have ever had the privilege to review, The New Black. So imagine my joy at winning a copy of Gory Hole via a Goodreads giveaway…you know, those things you enter and nearly never win. One of those.
I received in the mail what I expected to be a run-of-the-mill book and from the moment I opened the mailer, I knew this was not the case. For starters, the book is the size of a grade-school workbook or European comic; a gorgeous glossy cover art rendered by George Cotronis. Inside are three stories each accompanied with a color illustration by Luke Spooner. And the stories, well…
It opens with a completely over-the-top gore-drenched epic called “Revenge of the Zombie Pussy Eaters,” which is…well, about lesbian zombies and their blood-driven quest for muff. It’s gross, repulsive, and ridiculously fun. Next, we have “Human Tenderloin,” a thoughtful meditation on the joys of cannibal cuisine. And for the caboose in the short and shocking train we have “Sicko,” a love letter to those scary old inns owned by crazy folks but filled with twists, misdirection, and mutant deer.
Overall, a frenzied exercise in the fun side of splatterpunk. Gallons of gore, truckloads of sex, and enough lowbrow humor to gag a maggot. An offensively good time!
Available from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.
I received the fourth issue of Splatterpunk last week, and wasted no time digging into it. I am a big fan of Jack Bantry’s nostalga-dripping DIY zine. He was also kind enough to throw me a copy of the larger size debut issue so I now have a complete collection.
But enough of that, let’s get our gloves on and dissect this bad boy, shall we?
Opening with a short editorial by Bantry himself, which gives way to a wonderfully witty essay by Jeff Burk on why he loves extreme horror, we then have our first story of the issue, “I’m On My,” by Shane McKenzie. This tale of accidents and bad choices made with the best intentions is raw and throbbing, like a fresh wound. We follow that story’s blood trail to a great interview with both McKenzie and John Skipp, which is both insightful and fun.
Next we have “A Bit of Christmas Mayhem” by the always wonderful Jeff Strand. This story made me laugh out loud. It is so darkly insane and funny as we follow the main character, Mr. Chronic Bad Luck, who finds himself in the most ridiculous of Christmas Eve situations.
We are then given a glimpse into the truly twisted and hardcore life of “Wicking,” a violent and twisted tale by editor Jack Bantry and Robert Essig.
We get a chance to breathe when we pull into the reviews column, where Bantry and Gambino Iglesias give us the scoop on some newish books we should check out. And rounding out the fiction is a story by J.F. Gonzalez, “Ricochet,” which is a frightening glimpse into the perils of Internet technology and secrets. After which we get a short interview with Mr. Gonzalez.
Overall, Splatterpunk 4 is another great issue of over-the-top horror stories presented and paired with great artwork. Splatterpunk is a consistent little zine and one that packs as much heart into each issue as some larger presses manage to do in a year’s time. If you like your horror fresh and bleeding and harder than heroin, give Splatterpunk a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
After only reading one issue of the U.K.’s best DIY flavored extreme horror magazine, I’d call myself a fan. So when Jack Bantry sent me the next issue, I dove right in.
I’ll begin by showing my ignorance as to who the cover art is trying to portray, but I’ll be damned if the M*A*S*H fan in me doesn’t want it to be a psychotic Alan Alda brandishing a butcher knife. And again, Wrath James White’s cover blurb—“It makes me nostalgic”—could not be more truthful.
But let’s get to the meat of the sandwich, shall we? The fiction begins with “Balance,” a strange tale by J.F. Gonzalez, wherein a man wakes up to find everything in his life skewed, but not quite that skewed. The same people occupy this life but in differing roles. A heady but not all that extreme tale.
Ryan C. Thomas offers up “Ginsu Gary,” a darkly comedic take on an old urban legend. In this one we meet a flustered mafia henchman as he tries to get the “cleaner” to stop pitching products and get to work.
Splatterpunk editor Jack Bantry teams up with Nathan Robinson to deliver a strange tale of odd justice in “Squash.” Never before have amphibians and revenge worked so well together. Robert Ford turns in a story entitled “Maggie Blue,” which, while being written well and cringe-worthy in its nastiness, seems a bit disjointed and wonky in its logic.
The featured interview this time around is with the always witty Jeff Strand, he of the twist ending and nasty premise, who is not afraid to show a lovable goofy sense of humor. Dig him.
Rounding things out are another interview with editor Paul Fry and reviews (including a great one for Shock Totem’s reissue of James Newman’s The Wicked).
While I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as I did the last, it was still great fun. Please, do check Jack and Splatterpunk magazine out. They have their black hearts in the right place and aim to entertain. And that is the best target.
The blurb on the cover from Wrath James White says it all: “It makes me nostalgic.”
Splatterpunk is a blast from the past, seriously 80s fanzine past, as in folded and stapled papery goodness. When Ken said he was sending it to me, I was sort of expecting something else but was quite happy to be disappointed.
The brainchild of editor Jack Bantry, each issue of Splatterpunk features a handful of stories—hardcore and guaranteed to make you squirm—and the usual zine fodder: reviews, columns, and interviews.
The interview in this second issue is with the genre legend Ray Garton. The stories feature an illustration for each, beautifully rendered in stark black and white.
Four tales make up the fiction in this issue, which opens with “Fair Trade,” by Jeff Strand. This unsettling tale chronicles a hapless man called out on his infidelity by his wife. She gives him an ultimatum that becomes heavier than initially thought, and then Strand smacks us in the face with a twist ending. He’s good at this, a master.
The second tale is by Shane McKenzie, a young man I can say I’ve been watching since the beginning. He turns in “Fat Slob,” the grossest of the four stories. In it, our morbidly obese hero embarks on a weight loss journey. It features no smoothies or treadmills, no squat thrusts or carb reduction. Just a flab-hungry demonic creature, gruesome and downright icky. Shane does not disappoint when it comes to inducing the cringe.
Barry Hoffman delivers the third tale, “Room for One,” which is quite different in tone than the others. Almost dreamily surreal, but stark and raw in its emotional punch. This short tale of revenge and urban decay is superb and not easily forgotten.
Closing us out is Ronald Malfi and his tale, “The Jumping Sharks of Dyer Island.” A stunning parable about vacations and fraud and things not being what you expect them to be. To say anymore would be a disservice.
Splatterpunk is the real deal. A bare bones gooey love letter to extreme horror. I hope to see it around for a long time.
Of the trailer, Skipp says: “It’s two minutes of whacked-out laffs and flesh-eating mayhem, introducing Chase McKenna in the indelible title role. (And author Cody Goodfellow as the heartwarming Homeless Moe!)
To make Rose happen, Skipp and those involved with the project are making a direct appeal to fans to help fund the 3D zombie puppet musical. You can join in on this collaborative fan experience by visiting the project’s Kickstarter page.
For most—horror readers and writers, at least—John Skipp needs no introduction. The rest of you, however…
John Skipp came into prominence in the mid-80s, pioneering the splatterpunk style of horror with Craig Spector. Together, the duo tainted the 80s and early 90s with more than a half dozen nasty novels. They split as collaborators in 1993.
Since their split, Skipp has continued collaborating as well as writing solo. He’s also branched out into music, film, and family. And in recent years, he has resurfaced as a ferocious blip on the literary radar; first with the novella Conscience followed by The Long Last Call, a novel. Both were repressed together in 2007. His most recent works are Jake’s Wake, a new collaborative novel with Cody Goodfellow, and Opposite Sex, an erotica e-book, by the lovely Gina McQueen (aka John Skipp).
Most, if not all, of this is touched upon in the following interview…gleaned from the man himself through a series of e-mails and phone calls. Enjoy!