Haunted Castles—A Neo-pagan Gothic Horrorfest by Ray Russell

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“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.

More here…

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/BM8/penguin-horror


Guillermo Del Toro on Russell’s Haunted Castles from his Introduction to the Penguin Horror series…

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(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.”

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Word

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Photo (c)2018 by Sanguine Woods.

Tonight’s Read: A Tragic True Story of Demonic Possession…

On March 30, 1978, the trial began in the district court of Aschaffenburg Germany, of Josef and Anna Michel and Father Arnold Renz and Father Ernst Alt. The four were charged with negligent homicide in the death of Anneliese Michel. The courtroom sitting area was occupied primarily by media persons from Germany and abroad. Anneliese, her family, a few close friends, and the two priests involved and their Bishop, all believed that Anneliese suffered from possession. At the time, it was the first official and public case of exorcism in Germany in approximately 50 years, and the only known case to have been recorded on audio tapes. After sixty-seven exorcism sessions, Anneliese died on July 1, 1976 of what appeared to be starvation…

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Detail from a 1976 photograph of Annaliese Michel who was believed to have been the victim of an actual case of demonic possession (disclosetv.com). All other photos below: Pinterest.


“The Klingenberg case was for all those involved, a breathtaking experience. Someone on the outside cannot possibly appreciate this experience. Man’s imagination is stretched past the limit when it comes to demonic possession.”

– Father Ernst Alt, exorcist of Anneliese


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Tonight’s Read: The Queen’s Conjurer—The Science and Magic of Dr. John Dee, Adviser to Queen Elizabeth I—by Benjamin Woolley, Reviews & Links…

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“John Dee is commonly regarded as England’s finest home-grown magus, our most notable exponent of the esoteric arts that promised astonishing advances in knowledge for 16th-century Europe. His name is mentioned along with those of Paracelsus and Giordano Bruno, and he is sometimes proposed as an inspiration for Dr Faustus, Prospero or Ben Jonson’s Alchemist.“

– Graham Parry, The Guardian


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John Dee, Portrait. Date unknown (Wiki commons).

‘Dr John Dee is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of historical figure – intellectual giant or shady charlatan, depending on your point of view.

Born in 1527, when England was enjoying that flowering of art and learning we call the Renaissance, he trained with the scientist and technical instrument-maker Gemma Frisius at Louvain in the Low Countries, and went on to become a mathematician of distinction.

A personal adviser and official writer of technical “position papers” on navigational and maritime policy matters to Queen Elizabeth I, his opinion was sought by the Tudor government on investment in new technologies and projects to smelt metals.

He was a consultant to Martin Frobisher’s 1576 attempt to discover the Northwest Passage (a northerly trading route by sea to the lucrative markets in Russia and beyond), and trained Frobisher’s team of adventurers in navigational techniques. Dee’s preface to the first English-language edition of the Greek mathematician Euclid’s Elementes of Geometrie (1570), edited by Sir Henry Billingsley, is regarded as a landmark piece of writing on the applications of pure mathematics in science and technology.

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In Honor of “Shark Week!”—The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey, Introduction & Link

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“An ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep.”

– John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez


Introduction

The killing took place at dawn and as usual it was a decapitation, accomplished by a single vicious swipe. Blood geysered into the air, creating a vivid slick that stood out on the water like the work of a violent abstract painter. Five hundred yards away, outside of a lighthouse on the island’s highest peak, a man watched through a telescope. First he noticed the frenzy of gulls, bird gestalt that signaled trouble. And then he saw the blood. Grabbing his radio, he turned and began to run.

His transmission jolted awake the four other people on the island. “We’ve got an attack off Sugarloaf, big one it looks like. Lotta blood.” The house at the bottom of the hill echoed with the sounds of scientist Peter Pyle hurrying, running down the stairs, pulling on his knee-high rubber boots, slamming the old door behind him as he sprinted to the boat launch.

Peter and his colleague Scot Anderson, the voice on the radio, jumped into their seventeen-foot Boston Whaler. The boat rested on a bed of rubber tires beside a cliff; it was attached to a crane which lifted it up and into the air. The crane swung the whaler over the lip and lowered it thirty feet, into the massive early winter swells of the Pacific.

Peter unhooked the winch, an inch-thick cable of steel, as the whaler rose and fell into troughs big enough to swallow it. He started the engine and powered two hundred yards toward the birds, where the object of all the attention floated in a cloud of blood: a quarter-ton elephant seal that was missing its head. The odor was dense and oily, rancid Crisco mixed with seawater.

“Oh yeah,” Peter said. “That’s the smell of a shark attack.”

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Wild Talents

“Read a book, or look at a picture. The composer has taken a wild talent that nobody else in the world believed in; a thing that came and went and flouted and deceived him; maybe starved him; almost ruined him—and has put that damn thing to work.”

Charles Fort

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Current Read: The Slenderman Mysteries by Nick Redfern, TOC & Introduction…

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TABE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

  • CHAPTER 1
 “THE BEST, NEW MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE”
  • CHAPTER 2
 “IT TENDS TO FREE ITSELF FROM ITS MAKERS’ CONTROL”
  • CHAPTER 3
 “MAGIC AND FICTION WERE STARTING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION”
  • CHAPTER 4
 “IS ALL THAT WE SEE OR SEEM BUT A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM?”
  • CHAPTER 5
 “FEAR OF THE GAS MAN”
  • CHAPTER 6
 “CONSUMED BY THE SLENDERMAN”
  • CHAPTER 7
 “WAUKESHA REMINDS ME OF A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

“
  • CHAPTER 8
 “THERE WILL BE NO SAFETY IN THIS HOUSE”
  • CHAPTER 9
 “DEMON-POSSESSED”
  • CHAPTER 10
 “EVIL LIES IN WAIT FOR AN EXCUSE TO BLOOM”
  • CHAPTER 11
 “SLENDERMAN IS A PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF OUR FEAR OF DEATH”
  • CHAPTER 12
 “AND IN DID COME THE STRANGEST FIGURE”
  • CHAPTER 13
 “A SLIM MAN IN A DARK SUIT”
  • CHAPTER 14
 “I KNEW IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO KILL HER”
  • CHAPTER 15
 “A TALL, DARK, AND TERRIFYING ENTITY”
  • CHAPTER 16
 “HIS ARMS ARE IMPOSSIBLY LONG”
  • CHAPTER 17
 “THERE’S NO STRUCTURE TO THE FACE”
  • CONCLUSIONS
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Introduction

Imagine the scene: It’s the dead of night and you are fast asleep. Suddenly, things change radically and you find yourself far from asleep; you are now wide awake but unable to move. You are completely paralyzed. You try to cry out but it’s no use. Your heart pounds and your head spins chaotically. Worse still, you see hunched over in the shadows of the bedroom an eight-to-nine-foot-tall skinny and emaciated creature. It is dressed in an old-style black suit, and has a pale face that lacks eyes, a nose, ears, and a mouth. As for its arms and legs, they are almost like those of a spider: long, thin, and spindly. Rubbery, octopus-like tentacles protrude from its torso; they wave and flicker ominously in your direction. To your horror, the night-fiend slowly moves toward you and leans over. Its foul breath makes you wretch. It whispers that you are about to die or that it is coming to take your soul. Maybe you will be its eternal slave in its forested, ancient abode. Now in a state of complete terror, you finally manage to cry out and wake up in a cold sweat. The terrible thing is suddenly gone. You have just had a trauma- and fear-filled encounter with the Slenderman. But, mark my word, he will be back. He always comes back eventually.

The Slenderman has curious origins. He began “life” purely as an Internet creation, specifically the work of a man named Eric Knudsen. In June 2009, Knudsen, via the pseudonym of “Victor Surge,” uploaded a couple of doctored photos of the Slenderman to the Something Awful website forum. In no time at all, others began writing and posting their very own tales of the Slenderman. Short stories, blogs, novels, online games, chat-rooms, and more soon followed. Then, something menacing and sinister happened: People all across the world began to see the Slenderman. Not just on the Internet, not in novels or in the pages of comic-books, but in their homes. In their bedrooms. In mysterious woods. In dreams that rapidly escalated into full-blown nightmares.

The Slenderman had come to life.


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