Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
To many John Skipp is a living legend. He is often co-credited, along with Craig Spector, as the founder of the splatterpunk subgenre. He has inspired writers, directors, and just about everyone who works in the horror industry today. Skipp released a flurry of ultra-violent and overly-sexualized horror literature in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After lying dormant for about a decade, he returned to horror literature in the early 2000s. The Long Last Call is one of the stories released by Skipp during this later writing period. The story has a hard time standing up against Skipp’s more classic works in the genre, but is worth a read nonetheless.
The Long Last Call is set at the “Sweet Thangs” strip club. It follows the patrons and workers of the club as a dark mysterious stranger comes to visit. He puts down big money and has even bigger plans for his hosts. All they have to do is take the bait. It doesn’t take much. The club is, after all, a house of sin. With each dollar the stranger spends, his hosts become more wretched and twisted. Until, they are tearing each other apart, literally.
Skipp remains true to the splatterpunk genre offering sex and violence and little else. As discussed by Brian Keene in the introduction, The Long Las Call was written as a screenplay. This is clear in reading the tale, which is relatively short and largely devoid of description. Scenes are quick and the plot is moved forward rapidly through the use of dialogue and action. This format serves the story well, but will be a turnoff for some readers accustomed to a more verbose style, like that of Stephen King.
To make up for the brevity of the tale (about 180 pages in length), The Long Last Call book also contains the novella, Conscience. This introspective piece, also written by John Skipp, follows Charley Weber as he tells you -his conscience- about why things are the way they are. He has done a bunch of bad things and has had a bunch of bad things done to him. He is a killer and an asshole, by his own admission. Yet at the same time, he is to be pitied and sympathized with.
Neither of the stories is on par with the works released by Skipp and Spector in the 1980s, but both have their own merit. The tales are decent. They demonstrate John Skipp still has both the skill and the passion to produce high quality horror. Give The Long Last Call a try or if you are new to the splatterpunk genre, pick up the classic, The Light at the End by John Skipp and Craig Spector.