If this is the praise Ed Lee gave D.O.A. II, then you know you’re in for a treat:
"Make sure your health insurance covers psychiatric counseling before reading this book, because you're gonna need it. The experience of this collection may be likened to getting run over by a 666-car locomotive engineered by Lucifer. This is the cream of grotesquerie's crop, a Whitman's Sampler of the heinous, and an absolutely gut-wrenching celebration of the furthest extremities of the scatological, the taboo, the unconscionable, and the blasphemous." - Edward Lee, Header
DOA II is twenty-eights stories of hardcore horror and bizarro fiction that did not disappoint. I can see why Blood Bound Books has a reputation for the best anthologies in the small press field. For starters, with that many stories, the reader definitely gets their money’s worth. Sadly, the last few anthologies I read had maybe twelve to fifteen stories in total and were highly overpriced for that little content. Plus, I found the bulk of those stories boring and repetitive. In D.O.A. II however, there were only about five stories that were just 'okay' and I could have done fine without. And there were eleven stories that were absolutely killer, probably deserving of an splattery award!
I think the best part was the variety of themes contained in this massive tome. Since I’m not sure what the protocol is for reviewing anthologies, I’ll give you my author highlights and then a brief overview of each story below if you’re interested. Awards go to Kristopher Triana, Raymond Little, Wol-vriey,Wrath James White, Calie Voorhis, Kelly Hudson, Daniel I Russell, John McNee, Joshua Dobson, David Bernstein, and Robert Devereaux
P.S. This anthology was the May book of the month read for the Splatter Club—an online book club that discusses a new title bi-monthly and provides discounts to members and brings in authors and publishers to discuss the books with the readers. At the time of this posting, it’s still going on, so if you’d like to jump in and discuss stories with the editors and authors of D.O.A. II, just ask to join the FB club here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Splatterclub/
May event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/285103849088407/
The Devouring by Kristopher Triana
Violet and Alex begin a kinky relationship and with each encounter they push their sexual limits more and more. When they’re not getting off together, they spend their time watching video nasties and violent underground films to help think up new devious ways to get off. But how far can they push things? Great story and opener! Fans of Body Art will see how this story is almost a precursor to his novel, and if you want some excellent insight into this story, check out Triana’s post in the Splatter Club.
If Memory Serves by Jack Ketchum
Patricia is in therapy, trying to sort out the trauma from past abuse. Bad abuse. Like Satanic sacrificial murder type abuse. Dr. Hooker feels they’ve made a breakthrough in their latest session. But when certain memories are unearthed, danger comes knocking. This is a reprint from Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium. Good story, but even though it’s Ketchum, I didn’t feel it was one of the strongest in the antho.
Scream and I’ll Come to You by Raymond Little
A plague has befallen the world. Not zombie. Not bird or swine flu. But an infection that when it enters you, you cannot stop screaming. The screams persist until your vocal cords rip and all that emits from your throat is the gurgling sound of blood and ruptured tissue, and even then you will continue to scream. This story revolves around Beth and her daughter Daisy and how they attempt to survive in this terrifying new world. Great ending! Powerful story.
Real Dino Shit by Wol-Vriey
Wow. This is crazy fun bizarro. In fact, this is my favorite bizarro story I’ve read so far, and not just in this anthology, I mean overall. Send me more bizarro suggestions like this one. Mo’s got a fat zombie stuck on his toilet and the zombie has got something in its belly. Zombies, dinosaurs, and a hardcore chick with a Mohawk and machete make this one a winner!
Fingercuffs by Matt Kurtz
Kurtz's story explores the horrifying and sickening theme of child molestation, but he handles it well. Small town sheriff, cute little girls, real nasty monster. More than one plot twist in this one and I appreciated it. Here’s a picture from one of Kurtz’s fan that was inspired by the story. Made me think of Mr. Torso by Ed Lee, but don’t let that fool you. The story is plenty different and plenty original. He’s given some back story in the Splatter Club here:
Anointed by D. Lynn Smith
Very nice to see a female voice in this next story. Reminds me that us ladies can make it in the world of extreme horror. Do you ever consider the baptismal drains in churches…after all those cleansings, the washing away of all the original sin? What if the drain gets plug up? Where does the sin go? Smith delivers a highly unique and creative story.
Home by J.F. Gonzalez
A dark and depressing tale of survival. Gina’s parents are sick, the medical bills are due, the heat is turned off and they’re two steps away from being homeless. Gina must go out day after day to panhandle and secure funds for the family. This one is disturbing for its realism and so it stands out as horror that could really happen to any of us, always hard when the main character is a young kid.
RoadKill by Monica O’Rourke
Another fantastically sick female! This story made me as sick as Ed Lee’s “The Dritiphilist”. Let that sink in! O’Rourke introduces us to two hillbillies who spend their time preparing dinner in quite devious and disgusting ways. Hope you have a strong stomach for this one.
A Scalene Love Triangle by Kerry Lipp
After reading the title, I was worried this would be a take on human centipede concept with three people somehow connected to each other in some bizarre triangle, but nope. Lipp presents us a love affair between a married female teacher and a young man who is not her husband. When her husband arrives home though, the reader is either gonna be treated to a bloodbath or a threesome… and if I know D.O.A. fans, they’ll take either option with a smile.
BorderTown by Laura J. Campbell
Anna is a doctor who has been assigned to a small rural town named Dew. Dew has no cancer. No influenza. No real disease and no one ever dies young. But... they do have a very dark secret.
One Flesh: A Cautionary Tale by Robert Devereaux
This is a reprint from Iniquities 3, 1991, and is not just a cautionary tale, but a bizarro one as well. A father and his grown son are involved in a fiery car crash, mangled and melded into one flesh, at the same exact moment the grown son’s wife is giving birth to a baby boy. God has a sick sense of humor and this tale showcases the dirty side of it.
Telescopic by Harper Hull
A killer plays an interesting game with his next victim, but I didn’t care for this story much. Left me with too many questions.
Sexy by Wrath James White
There’s an app for everything now adays. Eros morte-- the app for those of you who want to be fucked to death. No need to say more. If you know Wrath, then you know his twisted brand of sex and death. If you don’t know Wrath yet, this is a great story to start with. I’ll leave you with my favorite line: Someone paid her to fuck them to death with a dildo made from a Rhinoceros horn.
Threads by Calie Voorhis
Calie does an excellent job capturing the angst and fears of teen girls. Dark and disturbing, but not in an outrageous bizarro way. Threads gets under your skin, literally!
Burn the Witches by K. Trap Jones
Another bizarro tale from the author of The Sinner and The Big Bad. This town’s got a problem...witches. Every hunting season, there is a protocol and this year, they F*ed it up. Definitely a fun story, but I like some of K. Trap's other work better. I think his fans will definitely dig this one, but even if this tale doesn’t satisfy, do check out some of his other work.
Under the Pretext of Propensity by Anton Cancre
With similar tones as "Finger Cuffs", this one is even more disturbing as Jordan is having impure thoughts of his fifteen-year-old stepdaughter. The ending is worth it, but ones like this are always hard to read. Stick with it though!
Every Drop of Blood Has a Soul by David Quinn
This one really wasn’t for me. Seems like you needed to know the Faust comic series. Wasn’t bad story, I just didn’t fall in love with it.
Dr Scabs and the Hags of El Cajon by Robert Essig
Apparently El Cajon is a real place. No comment on if Dr. Scabs is also real, but for California residents sake, let’s hope not! I envision Dr. Scabs a bit like Dr. Satan from House of 1000 Corpses. Not sure if it’s because of the PhD they both clearly hold or because they’re hideous appearance and devious medical practices ;) Regardless, the good doctor cooks up a powerful batch of meth and his secret weapon is the three hags. Another story that seems fitting of an Ed Lee plot--strange and gross.
STD by David Bernstein
Great tale of body horror. I don’t have a penis, but I was cringing for this poor guy. Wear a condom. I repeat, always wear a condom. And if you ever need a reminder, read this story.
Fat Boy by Kelly Hudson
There are some powerful stories in here that could fit in with any horror anthology not just an extreme one, Fat Boy is one of those stories. The real-life pain of bullying. What Calie Voorhis did for the female angst, Hudson does the same for males. Poor Tommy is picked on day in and day out. Fat boy! they all call him. His mother is an enabler and poor Tommy is about to snap.
The Pubic Hair Tumbleweed By Joshua Dobson
I laughed the whole way through. Bizarro and Gross. Ed Lee fans will love.
The Proud Mother by Ken MacGregor
Mortuary science is not a field for everyone. Charlotte Banning probably shouldn’t have gone that route, but in the 1800s it was hard for women to become doctors. It’s also hard to get pregnant from having sex with a cadaver, but sometimes, it happens.
Game of Golf by Gregory L. Norris
I like miniature golf. That’s about the extent of my golfing prowess though. It seems like a relatively pointless sport but maybe I’ll change my mind when I become rich. That or tennis lol.
Yet, I can see why Alvin would get so angry and take it out on golfers. No deep plot here. But some fun and creative violence.
Slice of Life by Thomas Pluck
Short but not so sweet. This was one of the few stories I really didn’t care for.
Gimmie Something Good to Eat by Shane McKenzie
This was cool Halloween story and unfolded more like a movie than a story. Must read!
Linger by Daniel I Russell
Harry can’t get the smell of her out of his mind. It’s driving him nuts and not in a good way. His job is miserable and his life is going down the drain. He sees only one way out. Good use of songs to bring this story home. Brutal ending!
Skunk JR. by John McNee
What a way to end the anthology! Someone is stealing babies and the local law enforcement want to talk to Skunk Jr. and Tick about it. With those names, I again think of Ed Lee. However there are no overused accents which I was thankful for! John McNee is a hell of a writer and a fantastic closer to this excellent anthology.
If you say you enjoy extreme horror, D.O.A. II is a must for your collection! Pick up your copy here.