Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
From the times of Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft to the present day, the short story has been invariably linked to the horror genre. Short stories offer a means to test new concepts, styles, and themes. Most horror writers got their start writing short stories. Arguably, the greatest works of Clive Barker and Stephen King were short stories. This said, short story collections are often a great way to introduce readers to new voices in the genre.
The D.O.A.: Extreme Horror Anthology, alternatively subtitled Extreme Horror Collection, was edited by David C. Hayes and Jack Burton. Released in 2011, this short story collection featured a cadre of relatively unknown authors writing tales in the splatterpunk/extreme horror subgenre. The book includes:
“Cherry Clubbing” by Kenneth Yu
“To be Filled in by the Subject” by J. Grant
“Demons Lie” by Atris Ray III
“Caterpillar” by Craig Saunders
“Cold Air” by Edward R. Rosick
“Artistic Subject” by Adrian Ludens
“Plague Hulk” by Glynn Barrass
“The Devil and Jim Rosenthal” by C. M. Saunders
“Cena” by Chad McKee
“Frogger” by J. W. Schnarr
“White Out” by K. J. Moore
“Spiric Satisfied” by John McNee
“Everyone has their own Sound” by Piper Morgan
“Les Sperme Vampire” by Michael Bracken
“The Bogeyman’s Key” by Calie Voorhis
“Stoners and Saviors” by Quinn Hernandez
“Digital Media” by Michael Cieslak
“Sisters” by Chris Reed
“My Dark Lover” by Stacy Bolli
“A Laxative for Writer’s Block” by Forrest Ingle
“In the Make-Out Room” by Matthew Keville
“Sickened” by Tonia Brown
“Glutton for Punishment” by Robert Essig
“Guys” by Eric Dimbleby
“Go to Your Room” by Shane McKenzie
“NREM Sleep” by A. R. Braun
“Daddy” by Uri Grey
“Good Girls” by R. Warren Smith
“Saving Ralph” by Alec Cizak
As with any collection, the quality of the work is highly variable. However, all of the tales are geared towards adult readers. Many feature graphic depictions of violence and sex. These include, but are not limited to, torture, rape, and pedophilia. D.O.A is not for the faint of heart.
“A Laxative for Writer’s Block” by Forrest Ingle stands out as possibly the most shocking tale in the collection. In it, the narrator argues that the key to writing is to draw from real life experiences. Here the author intends to write extreme horror. For inspiration, he has chosen to rape and kill a young girl.
Not all of the tales are necessarily unadulterated evil, however. Sometimes, the good guys win. In “The Bogeyman’s Key” by Calie Voorhis, Melissa is troubled by dreams of her step-father Clark raping her. Clark has learned how to enter into the dreams of others. He twists them as a way of feeding his own perverse desires. Yet, what happens when Melissa begins to master her own night terrors? Predator becomes prey.
Black humor (example: The Devil and Jim Rosenthal), social commentary (example: Digital Media), and tributes to other earlier splatterpunk authors (example: Artistic Subject) abound. Expect the unexpected. While much of the subgenre is focused on serial killers, elves (example: Cherry Clubbing), vampires (example: Les Sperme Vampire), ancient gods (example: My Dark Lover), elder things (example: In the Make-Out Room), and psychic horrors (example: Spiric Satisfied) also lurk within the collection.
Most of the authors in D.O.A.: Extreme Horror Anthology remain unknown to horror fans. Many are undeserving of this anonymity. This needn’t be the case. Pick up the collection and discover a new voice in horror literature.