Collected and edited by: Anthony Rivera & Sharon Lawson
Published by: Grey Matter Press (October 21, 2013)
Synopsis: Splatterlands reawakens and reimagines the hyperintensive writing style and controversial themes indicative of the original Splatterpunk movement. Containing the work of some of the freshest voices of our modern time, it is an anthology of deeply intelligent short stories whose extreme themes and graphic depictions of violence and terror are intended to have a lasting effect for years to come. Splatterlands is a disturbing collection that is not for the weak of heart. It pushes the boundaries of horror while taking several giant leaps beyond senseless violence and simple gore for the sake of gore. Splatterlands is a collection of personal, subversive and intelligent horror that refuses to sugarcoat reality. Exploring themes that include serial murder, personal betrayal amd revenge, religious fanaticism, physical and mental abuse, the fragility of the human mind, societal corruption, corporate greed, sexual assault and more, Splatterlands reaches into your soul with an icy, steel claw and twists. You will never look at the world the same way again.
Our Thoughts: I’d never even heard of splatterpunk until Sharon Lawson contacted me and asked me if I’d like to read and review this new collection of short stories. I said “Sure!” and then googled “splatterpunk”. Oh. Great. Basically, it’s lots of sex and gore with no character development or even plot line at times. Both Sharon and Anthony reassured me this collection was much more than that. The stories in Splatterlands reinvent splatterpunk by adding the thing it once lacked… meat. Pun intended. These are well written works with interesting characters and *gasp* PLOTS. A few were tough for me to get through because of the subject matter, but the writing itself kept me reading, even when I wanted to turn my head away in horror. Here’s the breakdown:
HEIRLOOM by Michael Laimo starts off strong. Very strong. I have a hard time with stories involving incest and rape, but I trudged through it. I can’t say “I’m glad I did” because, well, ew. But I will say it was well-crafted, and die-hard gore fans will love it. VIOLENCE FOR FUN AND PROFIT by Gregory L. Norris is much more my kind of horror, and I loved this story. It had humor, darkness, and twists that I thoroughly enjoyed. AMPUTATIONS IN THE KEY OF D by Jack Maddox was also another really well written and developed story. It was both thought-provoking and horrifying. Sometimes you don’t know the things you really need (or don’t need, as the case may be).
HOUSESITTING by Ray Garton was the most realistic story of the bunch. I could totally see this happening. Let this be a lesson to you: do not snoop through your friend’s stuff. Just don’t. EMPTY by A.A. Garrison totally floored me. It’s the world turned upside-down. It’s Hell on Earth. And nothing can stop it. DIS by Michele Garber was barbaric. It was difficult to read. It really was. I almost puked at the end. Michele has a gift though. Her prose are well thought-out and written. DWELLERS by Paul M. Collrin was another apocalyptic tale of gods and angels, though not the ones you’re used to reading about. It’s a dark and beautiful tale.
PARTY GUESTS by Chad Stroup was disturbing. What if an autistic person was also emotionally disturbed? THE VISCERA OF WORSHIP tells a new story of Leviathan worship. It’s deliciously twisted and pukey. Very pukey. THE DEFILED by Christine Morgan was the most disgusting story in the anthology. Christine herself has claimed it’s the “Nastiest, grossest thing I’ve ever written.” Thank God for that because it can’t get any worse than this, gore-wise. I almost didn’t finish it. In the end, the gore at the beginning had purpose. The story could not have unfolded without it. I was impressed.
THE ARTIST by James S. Dorr was a fun story. Sure, there’s butchery and cannibalism involved, but it’s fun nonetheless. A LETTER TO MY EX by J. Michael Major is so horrendous and heinous you simply do not want to believe something like this could happen. There’s revenge, and then there’s REVENGE. Holy crap, way to take it to the next level. Over the level. You can’t even see the level. The last story in the series is my favorite of them all. DEVIL RIDES SHOTGUN by Eric Del Carlo is the type of horror story I’d want to write if I had a talent for storycraft. It’s got demons and the selling of a soul at the crossroads, one of my favorite type of scary story ever written. It’s been done before, but it never gets old. It’s like Castle meets Supernatural.
Grey Matter Press and all the peeps there continue to impress me with the collections and novels they’re publishing. Splatterlands is a complete 180* from Dark Visions: Volume 1, and yet, it carries with it the same integrity and demeanor. I do hope they’ll continue bringing us horror fans more great works in the future. Be on the lookout for a future review from yours truly on yet another collection, Ominous Realities: Anthology of Dark Speculative Horrors, again collected and edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson. These guys keep busy! Lucky us.