"Something akin to heartbreak ripples through his being, but of course it is just a memory. Old broken hearts seldom break again, or so often." Excerpted from "Stirrings" by Kealan Patrick Burke, from MASQUES V (Gauntlet Press, now available).
Gauntlet Press is the Cadillac of specialty horror presses. If you're looking for benchmark titles that should be in any self respecting horror fan's library, editions with all the bells and whistles, then one need look no further than Gauntlet (www.GauntletPress.com).
The publisher handles each release with the care of a loving fan, and the respect of a true scholar. Take, for instance, the upcoming BLOODLINES, by one of the most influential writers of our time, Richard Matheson. The full title is: BLOODLINES: RICHARD MATHESON'S DRACULA, I AM LEGEND, AND OTHER VAMPIRE STORIES. I'm salivating already, are you?
The book contains both the novel and the screenplay for I AM LEGEND. According to the Web site, this script is Matheson's version, but having been purchased by Hammer Studios in the '60s, the British Censor Board insisted on cuts to the script. Matheson wouldn't budge, and the script was never filmed.
Readers will also be treated to Matheson's DRACULA screenplay (filmed in 1974 starring Jack Palance). In addition to a few other (very) odds and ends, you'll be treated to "Blood Son," the short story that was brilliantly adapted for DOOMED Magazine #1 by Ashley Wood and Comics101.Com's own Chris Ryall, which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2006 (the complete DOOMED adaptation can be found here).
So if the contents aren't enough to grab you by the jugular, you'll also be able to purchase this hardcover with optional signatures, leather slipcases, wooden slipcases, hell, the only thing missing is some dirt from Transylvania, although if there was a feasible way to do that, I'm sure Gauntlet would have thought of it.
What's amazing about Gauntlet's versions of classics like Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, Bloch's PSYCHO, or Blatty's THE EXORCIST, is the care with which they are packaged. The majority of the releases are limited editions, and they do become scarce rather quickly. I should know: I've been trying to track down a copy of Bloch's PSYCHO for a year now, without even so much as a spotting on Ebay. This is mostly a result of the fact that once someone gets their claws on a copy of a Gauntlet production, and productions they are, they just don't want to part ways with them. Everything they put out is top shelf, and once you take a swig, it'll be damn near impossible for you to go back to the regular stuff.
To say I was extremely pleased when a copy of a recent Gauntlet book appeared on my desk for review was an understatement. Published in July, MASQUES V is as bittersweet as it is an enjoyably dark ride through the state-fair spook house.
Almost completed before the wonderfully talented J.N. Williamson fell ill, MASQUES V is the final in the series. Tying up loose ends was the equally gifted Gary Braunbeck, who took on the remaining heavy lifting to help his friend. MASQUES V would become Williamson's swan song, and a tribute by a who's who of the horror community, including icons like Matheson, seasoned veterans like Jack Ketchum, and up-and-coming trailblazers such as Geoff Cooper.
I treasure short stories. They take skill, mastery, confidence and bite. MASQUES V is loaded with all of those attributes, with bite to spare. Sure, any anthology has its share of hits and misses. What makes MASQUES V so enjoyable is the surprising hits, like Ray Russell's "The Black Wench," that'll leave you all sorts of dizzy like a sucker punch to the chin. "The Sheets Were Clean And Dry" is fittingly seductive and darkly erotic, and only a publisher like Gauntlet would have the balls to understand that some horror is best when it is allowed to remain untouched, and not diluted like the fare on Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR. "Disappearing Act" by Barry Hoffman is quietly subversive, while Matheson's "Haircut" is goofy and creepy and proof positive that Richard Matheson is a god among men.
MASQUES V is full of surprises and loaded with horror's heavy hitters, including Poppy Z. Brite, Ray Garton, Tom Piccirilli, Thomas F. Monteleone, William F. Nolan, Ed Gorman and Ray Bradbury. In 2002 Jerry Williamson was presented with the Horror Writers' Association's Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. He passed in 2005, leaving behind a tremendous legacy, and MASQUES V only adds to all of his remarkable accomplishments.