Of the six books in the 2013 Penguin Horror imprint, Ray Russell's Haunted Castles was the only one I had never heard of before. In effect, I bought this book 50% because I had purchased the others and wanted a complete set, and 50% on trust in Penguin and Guillermo Del Toro.
The book itself is a collection of seven short horror stories written in the 1950s and 60s. The most famous of these is one called Sardonicus, which was made into a film in 1961 by William Castle. This movie, called Mr. Sardonicus had actually crossed my radar back when I was in elementary school and looking through a book on the history of horror cinema (yes, I was the monster obsessed kid in my class). One of the images in the book is the makeup for the main character, Baron Sardonicus, a man whose face has been frozen in a permanent grin, and trust me, as a kid this makeup really freaked me out, but more on the film later, as I'll be checking it out this weekend.
The stories are all pretty great, my personal favourite was called Sanguinarius, which focused on Elizabeth Bathory, a woman famous for bathing in the blood of young girls. The story, told from her point of view, was really great, and had a pretty great pay off as well.
Like science fiction author Frederic Brown, Russell seems like the type of Horror author that dedicated fans know well, but mainstream audiences may never have heard of - if you have the chance, definitely check out the book, it's well worth the read.
1 month ago