I was seven when horror came in search of me. I’d seen it from afar: garish comic-strip representations of Dracula on Valentine picture postcards, glimpses of men standing around in misty graveyards in late-night films I wasn’t allowed to watch. But when I was seven, my father gave me a book, the Ladybird Horror Classic abridgment of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I devoured its words and handsome illustrations eagerly, and from that moment forward, horror had me firmly in its clutch. Those pocket-sized hardbacks of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy were my initiation into the realms of the genre.
So begins my account of how I was seduced by the charm of evil. As I confess later in the essay, to this day “I remain its willing captive.” For that reason, six months ago or so I accepted the invitation to become Assistant Editor of Diabolique, a new digital and print magazine that promises “horror for the connoisseur.”
We have just published our eighth issue, and we have covered every aspect of the genre, from Liszt and the birth of horror music to the bizarre mind of the late film director Ken Russell. For the 100th birthday of Vincent Price we launched a special “Vincentenary” issue, and number 10 will be devoted to Bram Stoker on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Issue 9, due out on March 1, will have a witchcraft focus, with features including “Mondo Pagan,” in which Editor Robert JE Simpson looks at the rise of the witchcraft documentary from Häxan (1922) onwards; “The Devil Inside,” in which Kyle Kouri looks at the recent film of the same name in the context of the “found-footage” genre; David Del Valle’s never-before-published interview with the late Sidney Hayers, director of Night of the Eagle (aka Burn, Witch, Burn, 1962); and a glance at the life of priest and occultist Montague Summers, by Sandy Robertson.
I invite you to take a look at Horror Unlimited, the sister website of Diabolique magazine. You can subscribe to the digital and print edition there or browse through our archives of horror writing, images and resources.
In association with Diabolique, I’m also writing a regular column, which began here (click for past articles on horror theatre, Dracula’s Daughter, Vincent Price and more) and continues in blog form at thecharmofevil.blogspot.com. My most recent entry reviews the new Hammer horror film The Woman in Black.
When you visit the website and blog, and read Diabolique in print, you’ll note straight away the quality design. It’s the work of Dima Ballin, a creative who brings astonishing vision and artistic talent to the task of putting the publication together. A hat-tip also to Greg Petaloudis, who is doing a sterling work of marketing the magazine and ensuring it gets distributed widely and successfully. And, of course, I also doff my hat to Robert JE Simpson, a fine historian, publisher, writer and editor with whom it’s been a pleasure to work.