I love horror. I watch an average of two to three scary flicks a week, not to mention the amount of gleefully, gross fiction by Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, and Richard Laymon that populate my library. For these reasons, the Misfits will always be one of my favorite bands (well, Danzig’s Misfits, not the Michale Graves/Jerry Only embarrassment). With songs like “Vampira,” “Astro Zombies,” “Halloween,” and the eponymous “Hybrid Moments,” Glenn Danzig—in all his meat-headed glory—has soundtracked my cherished nightmares.
In this short story anthology, editors Sam Richard and MP Johnson have corralled several writers to concoct gruesome tales inspired by the New Jersey progenitors of horror punk. More than a clever idea, this is downright brilliant! Publisher Weirdpunk Books has also released a collection of stories inspired by GG Allin, and I hope they keep it up.
As with any short story anthology, the results are eclectic. I went in expecting pulp in the vein of EC Comics and Creepy—short spine-chillers with twist endings—but the majority are grounded and lyrical narratives covering a reporter obsessed with a murderess, a woman compelled by skulls to kill, an antisocial television junky harboring a dark secret, and a fictionalization of Patty Hearst’s abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army. For example, José Cruz’s “American Gods, American Monsters” and James Edward O’Brien’s “La Caja” are suggestive and altogether less splatterpunk, more atmospheric horror. T.A. Wardrope’s “The Soft Remains” reads like an unpublished tale from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood—visceral Lovecraftian terror soaked with arterial spray. Matthew Vaughn’s opener “Exterminate the Whole Human Race” is an inventive take on mindless flesh eaters, while Nicholaus Patnaude’s anti-narrative “Static Imago,” which reads like Burroughs mutated by Pynchon, is the most bizarro and divisive in the collection; its cut-up style is a definite mindfuck.
Sure, there is the occasional disembowelment and severed head, but such violence begat introspection. Nothing is cheap or illogical, a pitfall for many genre anthologies, and the stories are consistently entertaining throughout. I highly recommend this book for those who land in the horror/punk intersection of the Venn diagram, and for those who like a little yuck for their buck. –Sean Arenas (Weirdpunk Books, $15, freaktension.com)