Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Following up on the success of the DOA: Extreme Horror Collection in 2011, David C. Hayes and Jack Burton released D.O.A. II: Extreme Horror Collection in 2013. However, while the first anthology was a collection of relatively unknown authors, D.O.A. II contains stories from some of the most well-known names in the extreme horror subgenre. Tales include:
“The Devouring” by Kristopher Triana
“If Memory Serves” by Jack Ketchum
“Scream and I’ll Come to You” by Raymond Little
“Real Dino Shit” by Wol-vriey
“Finger Cuffs” by Matt Kurtz
“Anointed” by D. Lynn Smith
“Home” by J. F. Gonzalez
“Road Kill” by Monica J. O’Rourke
“A Scalene Love Triangle” by Kerry G.S. Lipp
“Bordertown” by Laura J. Campbell
“One Flesh: A Cautionary Tale” by Robert Devereaux
“Telescopic” by Harper Hull
“Sexy” by Wrath James White
“Threads” by Calie Voorhis
“Burn the Witches” by K. Trap Jones
“Under the Pretext of Propensity” by Anton Cancre
“Every Drop of Blood has a Soul” by David Quinn
“Dr. Scabs and the Hags of El Cajon” by Robert Essig
“STD” by David Berstein
“Fat Boy” by Kelly M. Hudson
“The Pubic Hair Tumbleweed” by Joshua Dobson
“The Proud Mother” by Ken MacGregor
“Game of Golf” by Gregory L. Norris
“Slice of Life” by Thomas Pluck
“Stud Service” by J. S. Reinhardt
“Give me Something Good to Eat” by Shane McKenzie
“Linger” by Daniel I. Russell
“Skunk Jr.” by John McNee
So, is the collection better or worse than its predecessor? The answer is a definitive yes and no. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. Most collections are a mixed bag. However, the quality of stories in D.O.A. II is more variable than most collections. Some of the weaker stories are by subgenre mainstays, while relative unknowns write to impress.
The anthology begins with a bang. Kristopher Triana’s “The Devouring” is a love story like no other. Alex and Violet are sadomasochists with a fondness for movies. After watching a snuff film, they decide to one-up the filmmakers. They will show the world their true devotion to one another in the most disturbing way imaginable.
“Bordertown,” by Laura J. Campbell is another standout. Dr. Anna Zidek is fresh out of medical school. Heeding a call for doctors, she moves out to the town of Dew to begin her career. Dew has a very healthy population. Diseases, like cancer, are unheard of. On the surface, the community appears to be a modern-day Eden. Yet, this prosperity comes with a cost. Will Anna pay what is due?
Several authors, including Calie Voorhis and Shane McKenzie, return from the original anthology. Voorhis produces the Carrie-influenced piece, known as “Threads,” while McKenzie puts a unique spin on Halloween with “Give Me Something Good to Eat.” Both remind readers of the writing which made the first volume in the series such a success.
One extreme horror mainstay which shines in the collection is Wrath James White. In his tale, “Sexy,” two social misfits from high school reunite under the most bizarre of circumstances. While Lionel has settled into a life of mediocrity, Katrina helps others with assisted suicides by adding her own signature erotic element. A chance encounter with Katrina pulls Lionel into the world of his dreams. Sexual deviancy ensues.
In many ways, the D.O.A. series has quickly become the Splatterpunks volumes for a new generation. Hayes and Burton fill the role of Paul Sammon admirably. They are collecting some of the most extreme and disturbing stories on the market today. Does that mean the next John Skipp or Joe Lansdale lies undiscovered within the pages of D.O.A. II? Pick it up and discover for yourself.