The Splatter Years
Published by Michael Matthews Publishing, WA / 2000
First Edition (complete with little spelling/title labeling errors)
A collection of reviews from his two prior '80s Gore Scores and Deep Red magazine, Balun's observations are sure to leave many pleased and as many bewildered. Gore Score 2001: The Splatter Years is a 303-page paperback review guide packed with alphabetized "capsule" reviews starting with The Abomination (1988) and ending with Zone Troopers (1985). Black and white film stills/posters and little interesting quote insets from Horror personalities are scattered throughout. There are two bookend articles by Jack Ketchum and Stephen Bissette concerning Balun's (minorish) influence on genre writing along with a short introduction by Balun. The reviews are accompanied with a 0-4 skull rating in half increments ("0" represented by a dog), body count number, director, year, and runtime (sometimes).
The writer/reviewer certainly has his foes with charges of altering reviews over time. Balun has a salty, almost juvenile wit about his insights and revisiting the book it does less for me now. The obvious high ratings are there; Henry, Cannibal Holocaust, Re-Animator, Braindead, and Evil Dead (& 2) are given a "classic, must-see" 4-skulls. Yet other highly regarded flicks are puzzlingly passed off to the shitpile. Lustig's Maniac is the biggest (most offensive?) example, being deemed a "reprehensible snuff film made by former pornographers" that's a "low point in a long, long season of low points."
Say what? Other examples are 1.5 skulls for Intruder, 1 skull for I Spit on your Grave, 1 skull for The Lost Boys, 2 skulls for Friday the 13th: Part 6: Jason Lives, 2 skulls for Phantasm, and 2.5 skulls for Near Dark. Somehow Sommer's 1999 Mummy gets a few sentences and a 3 skull rating. The length of reviews seem wacky as well. Graveyard Shift is given a full column, while Humanoids from the Deep is a short plot summary. Monster Dog is simply "Title says it all. With Alice Cooper. Fuck It."
Though I can't not recommend Balun's rants and raves. Reading this book back in 2001, a copy purchased from and signed by "Chas" himself at the first Horrorfind, I was surprised at all the flicks covered I had never heard of. Looking at it now, I realize this isn't a bad read for those not very familiar with the wealth of titles still landlocked on VHS. Many are available on disc, but with many being around 1985 through 1989ish, quite a few are still "tape titles." Some covered are the aforementioned The Abomination, Lunchmeat, Forced Entry, Dreamaniac, Rocktober Blood, and L. Bava's The Devil's Veil. Balun even sticks in a few Hong Kong nasties; like Dr. Lamb, Retribution Sight Unseen, Run and Kill, and Centipede Horror.
For the $10-$15 prices seen online, I'd say Gore Score 2001 is worth picking up for the sheer amount jogged through, especially when looking over his fluffy and boring Beyond Horror Holocaust which I actually regret buying.