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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Remember ‘The Mammoth Books of Best New Horror, ed. by Stephen Jones’?—Here are the Tables of Contents & Covers from ALL 29 BOOKS!

If you’re like me, you love a good horror series. Hell, series are cool, period, right? I remember my 1970s collection of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor! I treasured those 19 or 20 comics. Add the amazing artwork and illustrations that a series often comes with, and they’re great! Throw in a great editor and the really good writers, telling their most frightening stories—and series are fantastic!!

I have been collecting Stephen Jones’ The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror since around 2003 and I finally have them all in either hard copy or digital editions. But having more isn’t always easier! I’m always going: Where did I place that oneC089D993-CCD7-414C-8192-28266BBD6C47 book with the killer vampire story in it? Or which book was that crazy story about the “sticks” in? you know by Wagner?

Well, now-a-days it’s very easy to look things up and put a quick name to a book to a page number … and find just what you’re looking for. But back in the day? It was a treasure hunt!

But look no further—because here is the ultimate Master List (thank you ISFDB & StephenJoneseditor.com) of Tables of Contents from all 28 anthologies!—and the covers!*—almost three decades of great short horror fiction! “That’s gotta be like forty-eight hundred teeth!”

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Indeed.

(*If an edition had more than one cover, I’ve included both below.)


The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 1, 1990

 

Table of Contents

xiii • Introduction: Horror in 1989 • [Horror in … Introductions] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • Pin • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
8 • The House on Cemetery Street • (1988) • novelette by Cherry Wilder
33 • The Horn • (1989) • novelette by Stephen Gallagher
57 • Breaking Up • (1989) • short story by Alex Quiroba
66 • It Helps If You Sing • (1989) • short story by Ramsey Campbell
75 • Closed Circuit • (1989) • novelette by Laurence Staig
93 • Carnal House • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
104 • Twitch Technicolor • (1989) • short story by Kim Newman
115 • Lizaveta • (1988) • novelette by Gregory Frost
144 • Snow Cancellations • (1989) • short story by Donald R. Burleson
154 • Archway • (1989) • novelette by Nicholas Royle
176 • The Strange Design of Master Rignolo • (1989) • short story by Thomas Ligotti
189 • …To Feel Another’s Woe • (1989) • short story by Chet Williamson
205 • The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux • (1989) • novelette by Robert Westall
236 • No Sharks in the Med • (1989) • novelette by Brian Lumley
275 • Mort au Monde • (1989) • short story by D. F. Lewis
279 • Blanca • (1989) • novelette by Thomas Tessier
303 • The Eye of the Ayatollah • (1990) • short story by Ian Watson
312 • At First Just Ghostly • [Kane] • (1989) • novella by Karl Edward Wagner
370 • Bad News • (1989) • short story by Richard Laymon
383 • Necrology: 1989 (Best New Horror) • [Necrology (Jones & Newman)] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman


The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 2, 1991

 

Table of Contents

xvii • Introduction: Horror in 1990 • [Horror in … Introductions] • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • The First Time • (1990) • short story by K. W. Jeter
14 • A Short Guide to the City • (1990) • short story by Peter Straub
25 • Stephen • (1990) • novelette by Elizabeth Massie
47 • The Dead Love You • (1989) • short story by Jonathan Carroll
60 • Jane Doe #112 • (1990) • short story by Harlan Ellison
70 • Shock Radio • (1990) • short story by Ray Garton
89 • The Man Who Drew Cats • (1990) • short story by Michael Marshall Smith
105 • The Co-Op • (1990) • short story by Melanie Tem
115 • Negatives • (1990) • short story by Nicholas Royle
126 • The Last Feast of Harlequin • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • novelette by Thomas Ligotti
159 • 1/72nd Scale • (1990) • novelette by Ian R. MacLeod
185 • Cedar Lane • (1990) • short story by Karl Edward Wagner
194 • At a Window Facing West • (1990) • short story by Kim Antieau
205 • Inside the Walled City • (1990) • novelette by Garry Kilworth
222 • On the Wing • (1990) • short story by Jean-Daniel Brèque
230 • Firebird • (1990) • novelette by J. L. Comeau
252 • Incident on a Rainy Night in Beverly Hills • (1990) • novelette by David J. Schow
272 • His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite

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The Best Witch Books Ever: Part One—Here Are MY Faves…

“A witch is a magician, who, either by open or secret league, is wittingly or unwillingly contenteth to use the aid and assistance of the devil in the working of wonders or misery to those about, both friend and enemy alike.”

– William Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 1608

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Illustration/Design: Sanguine Woods.

Here they are…my faves–well part of them, anyway (stay tuned for Parts Two and Three); and they’re not in any type of order. I purposely refrained from giving them any kind of rating–ratings are biased by nature; this way, you can judge for yourself.

To me, they just have to be scary (adult scary–although I am a big fan of Roald Dahl). If you were burned to death tied to a stake, you’d be scary, too.

I also enjoy an eerie old-fashioned gothic atmosphere, which can add a complexity if written well that doesn’t always need scares to be effective. (The scary part usually rules out YA and Teen fiction for me; if you know of one I’ve missed, please send me a note!) Other than that just give me thoughtful characterization and good prose.

“By the Pricking of my Thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”  Witches, Macbeth

***

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, 2009

white“White is for witching, a colour to be worn so that all other colours can enter you, so that you may use them. At a pinch, cream will do.”

There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. And of course there is the house itself, 29 Barton Road, whose lines in the novel are grotesque, chilling and beautiful. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies, White is for Witching is a boldly original, terrifying, and elegant novel by a prodigious talent.

Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award
One of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists
From the acclaimed author of Mr. Fox; & Boy, Snow, Bird

“Be prepared to be enchanted…” – Fantasy Book Critic

Review: https://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/2009/07/white-is-for-witching-by-helen-oyeyemi.html

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, 2016

43A9512F-1E89-4E0C-B400-4016531660A4The greats of genre fiction, Stephen King and George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), lead the fanfare for HEX–a good sign that Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s debut English novel is both terrifying and unputdownable in equal measure.

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay here, never leaves. 

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town that is haunted by the Black Rock Witch—a 17th-century woman whose eyes and mouth have been sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets, entering homes at will. She’s been known to stand next to a child’s bed for nights on end–and no one knows why. So accustomed, in fact, to have her about, the townsfolk have almost grown to forget she’s there…or threat she poses a threat. According to the legend: if the Black Rock Witch’s stitches are ever cut open, the whole town will perish.

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Mark Your Calendar–My new book is coming soon! The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told, Vol. I…Visit my publisher and show your support with a Like and a Follow!

Here it is, friends and fellow readers and lovers of all things ghostly! News Release for my new anthology of rare  ghost stories with notes, annotations, articles, and artwork—in addition to some of the most amazing ghost stories almost lost to history!

Pleas visit Wick Press, here, and show your support with a Like and a Follow, won’t you?
Thank you, friends.
🌱SW

https://wickpressblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/the-greatest-ghost-stories-ever-told-in-two-volumes-ed-sanguine-woods-volume-i-eta-december-2017/

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A Reblog: Bringing Neglected Classics Back into Print—The Valancourt Classics Catalogue… some great horror & mystery thrillers return from … the grave …

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Young Frankenstein, the Play. Photographer/Actors unknown (Pinterest).

Rise, I say! Rise! Give my creature LIFE!!

I get a little excited, I guess, when publishers bring back awesome books we’ve forgotten about—or never knew about due to their having been published before our time!

Valancourt Books is doing just that, and here is a nice article on the subject with juicy details, from our buds over at Black Gate (an intensely cool website). And check out these revamped covers (below are 8 of them I liked)!

I’ll also include buying info below for those of you who like to build your own horror library.

Hey, life is short; only read the good stuff.

SW🌱

The Article

https://www.blackgate.com/2014/11/27/bringing-neglected-greats-back-into-print-the-horror-catalog-of-valancourt-books/

The Covers

Click in thumbnails to enlarge…

 

 

Where to Buy

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What’s on the tube? The Void Works on So Many Levels. It Really Creeped Me Out… ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ …and let’s clear up some things about “cosmicism” & Lovecraftian “homages”…

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Cop: “What, so you worship the Devil, then?”
Man covered in blood, laughing: “I don’t believe in the Devil. But I believe in this.”

-from The Void

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These creepy, crazy-as-shit cult members terrorize a small town hospital in The Void. If you see the black triangle…it’s too late. (IMDb)

The Void is a 2016 Canadian horror film written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, and produced by Jonathan Bronfman and Casey Walker. It stars Aaron Poole as deputy Daniel Carter, Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Powell, Daniel Fathers as Vincent, Kathleen Munroe as Allison, and Ellen Wong as Kim. The plot follows a group of people who have been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures. [More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Void_(2016_film)]

I don’t know about you, but THIS is the stuff of which my nightmares are made. But, let’s clarify one thing up front that the “UK Teaser Trailer” below gets wrong:

A Note on Homages

THE VOID IS NOT an homage to John Carpenter. First of all, Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novelette Who Goes There?* All three of the “Thing” films, in fact (1951, 1982, 2011**) owe a debt to Campbell’s story.

Carpenter’s film is an homage to Howard Phillips Lovecraft.*** I can’t say for sure whether Campbell had Lovecraft in mind when he wrote Who Goes There?—but it’s possible, since the story was published a year after Lovecraft’s death.

Above, left to right: Alternative film poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing (Pinterest); illustration by “ArtistMEF” for Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (deviantart.com); a poster concept based on Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (Pinterest)
*https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Goes_There%3F

**The novelette inspired the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, which historically, is pretty nifty, but it’s not Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_from_Another_World
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(1982_film)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(2011_film)
***https://nerdist.com/john-carpenters-the-thing-lovecraftian-35-anniversary/

THE VOID IS an homage to H. P. Lovecraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmicism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovecraftian_horror


Let’s Talk About Cosmicism…

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Reblog: One of the great independent presses, Undertow Books, hits the mark again! Look at this!

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The Silent Garden: A New Journal of Esoteric Fabulism

From Michael Kelly, Undertow Books (http://www.undertowbooks.com/)

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Silent Garden Collective, I will be publishing the inaugural volume of The Silent Garden: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism.

The Silent Garden is a peer-reviewed journal, edited and curated by the Silent Garden Collective, a professional group of editors, writers, and scholars interested in exploring those liminal borderlands where darkness bends.

The Collective’s aim is to provide an annual journal of exceptional writing and art focussed on horror and the numinous, the fabulist, the uncanny, the weird, the gnostic, the avant-garde, the esoteric, and the dark interstices of the known and unknown world.

The Silent Garden Collective is an organic and changing group of editors. Each volume (assuming the first sells well enough) will be edited and curated by a different group. Thus, given the number of people potentially involved, they thought it prudent to form a Collective.

The book is currently in production, and should be available in August. Pricing and ordering information should be available soon. The amazing Table of Contents is listed below. If you want to be notified when it’s available, just drop me an e-mail and I will add you to the mailing list.

Thanks for the interest, folks. I think this is going to be a very special and unique project!

Specs

Deluxe square (8.5” X 8.5”) Hardcover, with interior color illustrations, printed on 70LB paper. Published by Undertow Books.

The inaugural volume of this very cool journal will feature the following:

Art

  • Transcending the Grotesquerie: The Surreal Landscapes of David Whitlam

Essays

  • “Translating The Ritual,” by J.T. Glover
  • “The Raw Food Movement: Comparing Transformative Diets in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2015) and Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016),” by V.H. Leslie
  • “Unstitching the Patriarchy: A review of Camilla Grudova’s The Doll’s Alphabet,” by Rudrapriya Rathore
  • “Cinema of the Body: The Politics of Performativity in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville and Yorgos Lanthimo’s Dogtooth,” by Angelos Koutsourakis

Poetry

  • “Lincoln Hill,” by Daniel Mills
  • “Deposition of Darkness,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)
  • “Contortionist,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)

Fiction

  • “Waystations of the High Night,” by Marcel Brion (Translated by Edward Gauvin)
  • “Her Blood the Apples, Her Bones the Trees,” by Georgina Bruce
  • “La Tierra Blanca,” by Maurizio Cometto (Translated by Rachel S. Cordasco)
  • “Embolus of Cinnabar,” by Patricia Cram
  • “Palisade,” by Brian Evenson
  • “Under the Casket, A Beach!” by Nick Mamatas
  • “The Other Tiger,” by Helen Marshall
  • “Coruvorn” by Reggie Oliver
  • “Blood and Smoke, Vinegar and Ashes” by D.P. Watt
  • “The Palace of Force and Fire,” by Ron Weighell
  • “Nox Una,” by Marian Womack

Read more, here, and buy this! Support Undertow Books!

https://www.thesilentgarden.com/

http://www.undertowbooks.com/2018/04/29/the-silent-garden/#comment-39909