cover image Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Vol. 2

Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Vol. 2

Edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax. CometPress, $15.95 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-1-936964-62-8

The most effective selections in this second annual compilation of gory and sexually explicit horror rely more on characterization and drama than on their extreme content. Sarah L. Johnson’s “Little Sister, Little Brother” concerns a weird ménage à trois involving two landlords and a renter, and the supernatural benefits that each one reaps from the relationship. Adam Cesare’s “Please Subscribe” explores the underbelly of social media as webcam stars go to desperate lengths to be popular online. In Christa Carmen’s “The Girl Who Loved Bruce Campbell,” a chainsaw-wielding young woman defends herself against a trio of ravenous mutants in a bloody spree that gleefully spoofs the more outrageous moments in the Evil Dead movie franchise. Most of the book’s 20 other tales are thin on plot but glutted with graphic scenes of torture, dismemberment, evisceration, and pornographic sex. Those who weary of this will appreciate Michael A. Arnzen’s subversively funny “55 Ways I’d Prefer Not to Die,” a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of some outlandish ways to meet one’s maker, which seems to be winking at the rest of the book’s contents as much as at the reader. (June)