Thursday, October 21, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 71

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

edited by Paul M. Sammon

Splatterpunks: Extreme HorrorIn case you don't know, the term "splatterpunk" came about in the mid-to-late 1980s as a term for extreme horror fiction. Now, extreme horror didn't necessarily mean horror literature with over-the-top gore and blood and all that came along with it, but often that's what splatterpunk became ... or was ... or is. Basically, splatterpunk was a sub-genre of horror that was a reaction to relatively meek, commercial horror. Horror author David Schow is credited with coming up with the term "splatterpunk" in 1986 at the World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island.

Which writers are considered splatterpunk writers? Well, there have been more than a few, but the most notable are Schow himself, Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Jack Ketchum, Craig Spector, John Skipp and a handful of others.

Today, the term "splatterpunk" has mostly faded away, but it still pops up from time to time.

Then along comes the book I'm writing about in this post, Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror, published in 1990 and edited by Paul M. Sammon.

Within this book's pages you find short story after short story, many by some of the writers listed above, that contain gruesome and shocking material. Yes, there's gore to be found here aplenty, but there's also a fair share of more thoughtful horror pieces.

But every story within will keep you on your toes and give you a jolt as if you've just drank a gallon of espresso.

Years ago, back when I thought of myself as a horror writer (today I'm just "a writer"), I read these tales with zest, though for the most part I didn't want to move in that direction. Maybe I'm a little too old school, but the shadow at the end of the hallway I've always found more frightening than the actual monster itself. Gore usually isn't my thing, not that I've never jumped to it on occasion when I felt the story warranted it.

But what Splatterpunks, the book and the sub-genre, did for me was to make me more aware of the possibilities of horror literature. By the mid-80s, horror was beginning to grow somewhat stale, and Splatterpunks helped to breath new live into the genre.

Up next: For Whom the Bell Tolls


Charles Gramlich said...

I did a few Splatterpunk type stories back in the day. Razor White, Splatter of Black, Wall of Love. I tend to like the more atomspheric stuff best too, but it was an intersting challenge to write these kinds of stories, and quite a lot of fun.

Ty Johnston said...

Yeah, I wrote a few such tales, and most of them will never see the light of day for fear of my own damnation and the scorn of my friends. ;-)

Will Errickson said...

Hells yeah, great collection (oddly enough, it didn't contain anything by Schow). I bought it at the 1990 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors Convention in NYC. And I liked Sammon's essays too, particularly the influences. Tried my hand at a few splatterpunk-y stories as well. One of these days I need to reread this anthology, see which tales still hold up. Lansdale's "Night They Missed the Horror Show" does, I know that!