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Splatterpunk is a movement within horror fiction originating in the 1980s, distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence, countercultural alignment[1] and "hyperintensive horror with no limits."[2][3][4] The term was coined in 1986 by David J. Schow at the Twelfth World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Splatterpunk is regarded as a revolt against the "traditional, meekly suggestive horror story".[5] Splatterpunk has been defined as a "literary genre characterised by graphically described scenes of an extremely gory nature."[6]


Michael Shea's short story "The Autopsy" (1980) has been described as a "proto-splatterpunk" story.[7]

Splatterpunk provoked considerable controversy among horror writers. Robert Bloch criticised the movement, arguing "there is a distinction to be made between that which inspires terror and that which inspires nausea".[8] William F. Nolan and Charles L. Grant also censured the movement.[9] However, critics R.S. Hadji and Philip Nutman praised the movement, the latter describing splatterpunk as a "survivalist" literature that "reflects the moral chaos of our times".[9]

Though the term gained some prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, and, as a movement, attracted a cult following, the term "splatterpunk" has since been replaced by other synonymous terms for the genre.[10] The last major commercial endeavor aimed at the Splatterpunk audience was 1995's Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge, an anthology of short stories which also included essays on horror cinema and an interview with Anton LaVey. By 1998, one commentator suggested interest in splatterpunk was declining, saying it "seemed to have reached a peak" in the mid-1990s.[11] The term is still sometimes used for horror with a strong gruesome element, such as Philip Nutman's novel Cities of Night.[12]

In 2018 the organizers of KillerCon established the Splatterpunk Awards (or "Bernies") to honor achievement in the fields of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror.[13]

Genre writers[edit]

Writers known for writing in this genre include Clive Barker,[3][14][15] Poppy Z. Brite,[3] Jack Ketchum,[3] Richard Laymon,[3] J. F. Gonzalez, Joe Lansdale, Brian Keene, Richard Christian Matheson,[3] Robert McCammon,[3] Shane McKenzie, [3] Wrath James White, [3] David J. Schow (described as "the father of splatterpunk" by Richard Christian Matheson),[3][4] John Skipp,[3] Craig Spector,[3] Edward Lee, and Michael Boatman.[16] Some commentators also regard Kathe Koja as a splatterpunk writer.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tucker, Ken Tucker; Ken; Weekly, the television critic for Entertainment; Voice, has written about horror fiction for The Village; Weekly, L. A. (1991-03-24). "The Splatterpunk Trend, And Welcome to It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  2. ^ Carroll, David (1995). "Splatterpunk". Tabula Rasa #6. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "000407 - Splatterpunk". www.readersadvice.com. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Schow, David J." by Gary Westfahl in David Pringle, St. James guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. London : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 978-1-55862-206-7 (pp. 516–517. ).
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (1991-03-24). "The Splatterpunk Trend, And Welcome to It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  6. ^ Warren Clements, "A quick course in Euro-surgery". The Globe and Mail September 28, 1996.
  7. ^ "In 1980, for example, F&SF published...Michael Shea's graphic proto-splatterpunk SF/horror story "The Autopsy"". Robert A. Collins, Robert Latham, Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review Annual Meckler, 1989 ISBN 0887363695. (p.99)
  8. ^ Paul Bail, John Saul: A Critical Companion Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996 ISBN 0313295751 (p. 26).
  9. ^ a b c Rob Latham, "The Urban Horror", in S. T. Joshi, ed., Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: an Encyclopedia of our Worst Nightmares (Greenwood, 2007), (p. 591-618) ISBN 0313337810
  10. ^ Remy, J.E. (2007-07-24). "Types of Horror/All Sorts of Punk". Die Wachen. Archived from the original on 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  11. ^ Jane Sullivan, "Schlock Horror". Sunday Age July, 19th, 1998, (p. 15).
  12. ^ The Publishers Weekly review described Cities of Night as "seasoned with a dash of splatterpunk". Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2010.
  13. ^ "KillerCon Official Website".
  14. ^ Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge by Paul M Sammon
  15. ^ Campi, Giorgio Paolo (2022). "S/M, Splatter, and Body Modifications in the Early Clive Barker. Birth of a Political Aesthetics". Whatever. 5: 83–87.
  16. ^ Schulz-Elsing, Sharon E. "Book review: Michael Boatman's *God Laughs When You Die*". www.curledup.com. Retrieved 23 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Inside the New Horror" — Philip Nutman, The Twilight Zone, October 1988
  • "The Splatterpunks: The Young Turks at Horror's Cutting Edge" — Lawrence Person, Nova Express, Summer 1988
  • Paul M. Sammon (1990). Splatter-Punks: The Definitive Anthology. St Martins Press. ISBN 978-0-312-04581-4.
  • Paul M. Sammon (1995-04-01). Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge. Tor Books. ISBN 978-0-312-85786-8.