“Nature is often obscure or impenetrable; but she is not, like Man, deceitful.”
– C.G. JUNG
Sinister, slow-burn, creeping Gothic, no cheap shots or jump scares.
Those are words I like to see in a film review. So I gave it a shot,
Damn scary. And well worth your time.
Trailer & A Review
The Suffering : A a Review from Dread Central
Starring: Nick Apostolides, Phil Amico, & Elizabeth Deo
Director: Robert Hamilton
‘While looking like I was in for just another haunted house film notch in my belt, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that director Robert Hamilton’s The Suffering was anything but. So what exactly was it, you ask? Well, step inside these creaky old doors, and let’s have ourselves a chat, shall we?
At the film’s onset you get the feeling that our main character, Henry (Apostolides), is in way over his head with his job as a real estate appraiser, and his latest gig at the request of the property’s owner, Mr. Remiel (Amico). From a creepy conversation with the appointed driver, to an even eerier dialogue with the ghastly maid, better judgement would tell the normal soul to get the hell outta Dodge, but with the amount Mr. Remiel is planning to pay Henry, monetary conscience usually wins out. The Southern gentleman fancies his piano playing, nightly cocktails by the fire, and an occasional labored walk through the grounds that he is handsomely forking over the big bucks for Henry to assess.
As if the previous two encounters wouldn’t have been enough to scare Henry off, one day while he’s glossing over the property, the sight of a seriously decomposed body in the attic seals the deal – he’s catching the next ride out of this joint! Mr. Remile politely reminds him of his financial obligation to his wife and unborn child… and let’s not forget the little honey on the side that he’s now trying to shake (shame on you, Henry).
“Beneath the haunted castle lies the dungeon keep: the womb from whose darkness the ego first emerged, the tomb to which it knows it must return at last. Beneath the crumbling shell of paternal authority, lies the maternal blackness, imagined by the Gothic writer as a prison, a torture chamber—from which the cries of the kidnapped anima cannot even be heard. The upper and the lower levels of the ruined castle or abbey represent the contradictory fears at the heart of Gothic terror: the dread of the super-ego, whose splendid battlements have been battered but not quite cast down—and of the id, whose buried darkness abounds in dark visions no stormer of the castle had ever touched.”
—Leslie A. Fielder, Love and Death in the American Novel
About the Penguin Horror Series
Penguin Horror is a collection of novels, stories, and poems (in the Poe volume) by masters of the genre, collected and Introduced by filmmaker and lifelong horror reader Guillermo del Toro.
Guillermo Del Toro on Russell’s Haunted Castles from his Introduction to the Penguin Horror series…
(Followed by More of Del Toro’s Introduction to the overall series…)
‘The case of Ray Russell offers us a chance to talk about one of the most peculiar horror writers. Russell links postpulp literature and the Grand Guignol tradition, with the modern sensibilities of America in the 1960s. Within him resides a neo-paganistic streak that is passed from Algernon Blackwood and Sax Rohmer to him and other writers of unusual proclivities, such as Bernard (aka. Bernhardt) J. Hurwood. A fascinating combination of the liberal and the heretic.
Russell was born in the early twentieth century and saw action during World War II. He held a variety of jobs and published in a variety of publications. He was part of the resurgence of fantastic literature in American letters. As executive fiction editor of Playboy in the magazine’s infancy (1954–1960), Russell probably knew his share of excess and power, but he utilized this power to provide refuge to a host of valuable genre writers, among them the brilliant Richard Matheson and the precious Charles Beaumont, but also heralded the birth of adult fantastic fiction by publishing also Vonnegut, Bradbury, Fredric Brown, and many others.
‘Russell authored numerous short stories and seven novels—including his most famous one, The Case Against Satan, which pioneers and outlines the plights of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. But, in spite of this and his continued collaborations with Playboy throughout the 1970s, Russell remains a forgotten writer. A sort of writer’s writer, an acquired taste. This in spite of being a recipient of both a World Fantasy Award and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
In fact, in the last few decades, so little has been published about Russell that the only quote, oft repeated, is Stephen King’s blurb, in which he enthrones Sardonicus as “perhaps the finest example of the modern gothic ever written.”