There’s one more author to be introduced; one of the best authors of modern Gothic Horror you’ve never read. I wasn’t going to cover his work as he’s been out of print for some time. Thanks to the astute skills of director Guillermo Del Toro and the publishers at Penguin, you can now read all three of Russell’s S stories: Sardonicus, Sagittarius and Sanguinarius.
Ray Russell-Sardonicus– Little is known about Ray Russell. He was a writer of short stories, novels, and screenplays. In 1991 he received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Sardonicus first appeared in the January 1961 issue of Playboy magazine, and was subsequently adapted by Russell into a screenplay for William Castle’s film version, titled Mr. Sardonicus.
As a fiction editor for Playboy magazine, Russell was responsible for introducing the likes of Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and RayBradbury to Playboy readers. Stephen King called Sardonicus,”…the finest example of modern gothic ever written…” Perhaps he’s right. Sardonicus is soaked in the colors of the best Hammer horror films, and reads with an ease of self-awareness despite a savagery of language which would be considered unacceptable today.
I must take a minute to rave about the volumes of horror curated by Guillermo Del Toro. The volume Haunted Castles: the Complete Gothic Stories by Ray Russell (Penguin $22.00) is but one of six beautifully bound works. Del Toro’s introduction to each one of these carefully considered gems is some of the most intelligent and insightful literary criticism of the genre since Stephen King’s Danse Macabre.
Treat yourself. No trick involved. And, oh, Happy Haaallooweeen.