The week of American Independence Day is perfect for the release of the latest anthology from St. Rooster Press, Kids of the Black Hole. Five punksploitation stories, celebrating the freedom and attitude of the punk rock scene with a horror twist, is a fine middle finger to the establishment. With the current interest in that subculture rising again, thanks to films like The Ranger and Green Room, Kids of the Black Hole is a necessary reminder that the DIY spirit is still alive and spitting.
The stories, all inhabited by kids on the fringe, contain images that will linger in the mind long after the book has been placed on the shelf. Imagine a pub filled with bloodthirsty clones of Ronald Reagan, attacking rednecks and black punks alike. You’ve got it in the opening story by Sarah Miner, “Black Thunder.” Skinheads and subterraneans meet in Chris Hallock’s “Urchins.” Paul Lubaczewski describes a night in the lives of some hardcore punks in his story, “I Love Livin’ In The City.” The divide between subcultures is made bloodily clear in Jeremy Lowe’s high school horror, “Skate or Die.” Editor Tim Murr’s story, “What We Do Is Secret,” finishes out the anthology with a wild tale of punk rock, necromancy, and unrequited love.
If you like your horror elegant and nuanced, Kids of the Black Hole isn’t for you. These stories are brash, in your face, and they ain’t pretty. They are laced with inside jokes (the Anarchy bit in Lubaczewski’s tale made me laugh out loud), gallows humor, and unhindered violence. This is a rough read, a kick in the ass to a Top 40 world. Either you get it or you don’t.
Like a good hardcore punk record, Kids of the Black Hole delivers its message and moves on quickly. There are only five stories in this anthology, and none of them belabor their point. Sometimes, the ideas are greater than the stories themselves. However, listen to any early Misfits album and tell me the case isn’t the same.
Kids of the Black Hole is a great reminder that your heroes don’t have to like you. They don’t have to be pretty and they don’t have to speak eloquently. Even in the face of unspeakable horror, you’ll want a punk on your side.