From Homicide to Hockey Masks...

Dark Scribe Press is pleased to announce its second print project — Butcher Knives & Body Counts: Essays on the Formula, Frights, and Fun of the Slasher Film.

From meat cleavers and machetes to summer camp carnage and sorority house massacres, from final girls and scream queens to demented deviants and dead teenagers, slasher films turned body counts into box office gold. It’s the oft-maligned — but surprisingly durable — sub-genre of horror films that uses a Freudian rulebook and bases the survival rates of its characters on vice and virtue. From the low-budget aesthetics of the 70’s and 80’s to the self-referential gloss of the 90’s and beyond, Butcher Knives & Body Counts will explore the archetype of the slasher film and trace its evolution from formula to franchise. From the inventive kills and the gory intestine spills right down to the last tagline and toe tag, Butcher Knives & Body Counts will celebrate the enduring formula, frights, and fun of slasher movies.

The project will be less a "guide" — what most would immediately associate with encapsulated reviews — and more a comprehensive collection of critical essays on the slasher film genre. In addition to opportunities for analyses of individual films, DSP is also looking for essays on various aspects of the slasher film genre. We anticipate those essays dealing with individual films to be in the 1,000- to 1,500-word range, with a slightly larger word range and some added flexibility for essays pertaining to the more general aspects of the genre.

As we did with our Unspeakable Horror anthology, Dark Scribe Press has established this dedicated blog for the project where submission guidelines, tips, and announcements will be posted. We have also posted a "wish list" of films we're looking to have covered at left. When we post our submissions guidelines, we will offer some suggested topics that will give potential contributors an idea of what we're open to in relation to the broader essays.

More details regarding submissions are forthcoming. No queries (or submissions) until we've gotten the submissions guidelines posted, please.

September 30, 2008


Please note that queries about specific films are not required prior to submission. Films are not being "assigned" to particular writers (unless by invitation) and all films are up for grabs. There is no "first come, first served" aspect to the process. Writers are simply invited and encouraged to write about whichever film(s) or topic(s) interest them and to submit their best work. There will be an editorial selection process, meaning (for example) that if multiple essays are submitted on the film Motel Hell, we will choose one (or more) that best fits our criteria and needs and will pass on those that don't. As with most open calls for submissions, this is a competitive process versus calling dibs.

September 29, 2008

Call for Submissions...

Butcher Knives & Body Counts: Essays on the Formula, Frights, and Fun of the Slasher Film will be a comprehensive non-fiction collection of essays on the slasher genre and its films, due for publication by Dark Scribe Press in the first quarter of 2010.

We’ve taken great care to compose submission guidelines that are detailed and as all-encompassing as possible. Please take the time to read through the following guidelines in their entirety before contacting us with questions.

We have two primary needs for this project:

I. Essays on Individual Films: 1,000 to 1,500 words on individual slasher films. Please note the list at left which provides a directory of films we’re especially interested in. This list is not all-inclusive of our interests and we are open to essays on slasher films not on our list.

There are three distinct elements that we are looking for in the essays covering individual films:

  • A strong angle or approach to the film. This angle should be clearly communicated within a catchy, creative subtitle;
  • Passion for the film and the writer’s ability to articulate the film’s enduring appeal and how it contributed to the genre;
  • A balanced integration of film theory/commentary and tribute/personal anecdote. We want to read essays in which the writer connects with a chosen film in a personal way.

Considerations before Submitting:

  • We are not looking for encapsulated reviews. Elements of plot synopsis should be well-integrated into the essay and inconspicuous to the reader;
  • We are open to single essays that take on two films, if the films have a direct relation such as sequels or remakes.

II. Essays on the Slasher Genre: 1,000 to 2,000 (query first for longer) words on the slasher genre or elements of the genre. We are looking for engaging essays that explore the formula and psychology of the slasher film, the history and evolution of the slasher, individual elements of the slasher, the influence of the slasher film in popular culture, the sociological exploration of the slasher from alternate perspectives (i.e. race, religion, sexual orientation), sub-genres of the slasher (subhuman slashers, hospital/medical slashers, summer camp slashers, etc.), comparative analyses that examine originals versus remakes (see above) or take on particular characters (villains, victims, or heroes/heroines), and trends in the slasher genre (i.e. remakes).

There are two distinct elements that we are looking for in the essays covering individual films:

  • Ingenuity of topic and approach to subject matter is going to impress us. Think sub-genres and narrow (versus obscure) focuses;
  • We want thought-provoking essays that take a more learned, well-read style than scholarly textbook approach to the subject matter. Think well-articulated pop culture versus academic recitation, cerebral but accessible;

General Tips:

  • Passion will be key for any writer interested in becoming part of this project. We love slasher films — so you won’t be able to fake your enthusiasm(!).

Payment: $0.05 (five cents) per word for original essays upon contract for FNAR. $0.02 (two cents) per word for reprints. For the purposes of payment consideration, works having previously appeared as part of blogs and other electronic or web-based publications will be considered reprints.

Submission Specifics:

Reading Period:

  • Exclusive Call Period: In our efforts to support and encourage support of the professional writing organizations working on behalf of dark genre literature, members (at any level) of the following writing organizations will have a two-month exclusive submissions period beginning November 1st through December 31st: Horror Writers Association (HWA), International Thriller Writers (ITW), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Writers of these professional organizations should note their affiliation and status in their cover letters. Writers from other professional writing associations not listed above should query first.
  • Open Call for Submissions: We welcome submissions from all writers beginning January 1st, 2009.
  • The submission period ends May 31st, 2009.

Notification of Writers:

  • Email confirmations will be sent upon submission. If you do not receive a confirmation that your submission has been received after two weeks, first check your Spam folder and then drop us a line. We’ve also taken the time to create this project-specific blog in an effort to communicate with writers. Please bookmark the page and check back for updates on where we stand with submissions.
  • Expect to hear back on your submission(s) between 60 and 90 days from the date of confirmation. Essays will be either accepted or rejected outright, or we may ask to hold an essay until the end of our reading period. We realize that 6-8 months is a long period to ask to hold onto a particular essay, but because of the nature of this project we anticipate several submissions per film. At DSP, we realize that a writer’s time is money. If you receive an email from us asking to hold onto your submission until the end of the process and don’t want to tie up your work that long, simply let us know and we’ll take the piece out of consideration and release it back to you with our best wishes.

Formatting Submissions:

  • Send as Word attachments only – do not send submissions in the body of an email or as any other type of attachment
  • Use Courier, 12-point font
  • Single space body of essay
  • 5-space indent at beginning of new paragraphs
  • No manual page or section breaks
  • No extra spacing between paragraphs – the 5-space indent will tell us where a new paragraph begins
  • Use 1-inch margins — this includes top, bottom, left and right
  • Film titles within essays are to be italicized — do not use all caps or bold
  • Working title of essay center on first page — do not use italics or all caps, no quotations
  • For film essays, title should include film title and subtitle that communicates the angle of the essay separated by a colon. Examples:

Curtains: Paging Agatha Christie
A Nightmare on Elm Street: No Sympathy for This Devil

  • No headers or footers
  • No page numbers
  • At the top of the first page in the left-hand corner, single-spaced, please include the following information:

Street Address
Zip Code
Email Address
Count (body of submission, excluding title)

Multiple / Simultaneous Submissions:

  • We will accept multiple submissions. Limit of (3) submissions per author. Send up to three at one time, but kindly wait until you hear back on one or more of your submissions before sending another.
  • No simultaneous submissions.

Sending Submissions:

  • Include a short cover letter in the body of your email with the film or topic your submission covers, 2-3 sentences describing the essay’s unique perspective, and a brief bio. For those submitting between November 1st and December 31st, please note your professional writing organization affiliation.
  • Our plans for this project include interspersing first-person blurbs and anecdotes about the various films covered in between the essays. Kindly note any connections or contacts you may have with anyone involved with a specific film. While helpful to us, this is in no way a prerequisite to submission.
  • Send submissions via email only to DSPsubmissions(at)aol(dot)com.


  • Questions? Hopefully, we’ve covered all bases with these guidelines. If not and there is a pressing need for information, you may contact us at darkscribepress(at)aol(dot)com. Due to time constraints, it may not be possible to answer questions individually. We will, however, compile questions and answer them here on the blog. Bookmark and check back often.
  • Please do not email us asking if a particular film has been covered. Once we make final decisions regarding submissions and have notified the authors, we will periodically post updates to the blog. Even if a film title is covered in an essay that is announced as accepted, all films remain fair game until we announce otherwise. Conversely, if we receive a dozen essays dealing with The Burning, we may note that on the blog to discourage additional submissions on that film. Again, check the blog often.