BLOCH, ROBERT – THE SKULL OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE 1965 Pyramid Books.
Terrific horror story filmed faithfully as The Skull, which starred peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The story concerns the fate of an evil collector of grisly historic memorabilia. The story begins as the man is reading a book covered in human skin, which is just one of the items in his collection. His reading is interrupted when a man arrives with a new acquisition for him. It is a small, slightly effeminate human skull. Unusually, it doesn’t have the characteristic fixed grin that most skulls have. It has its face set in a grimace. The no questions asked seller tries to convince the collector that the skull is that of the infamous Marquis De Sade. It was, as the story suggests, removed for medical study, and though it was widely believed to have been returned to De Sade’s coffin, legends had abounded that it had been stolen away. The Collector’s agent claims that the skull is real. The collector is intrigued, but he needs proof. He wants time to think about the possible purchase, especially as the seller wants remarkably little money for such a quality piece of merchandise. The collector sends the man away, with instructions to return soon. In the meantime, he begins to look into the history of the skull for himself, and finds evidence that suggests that the history of its disappearance seems to be realistic. He is now haunted by brutal nightmares in which he himself is trapped in an Inquisitional torture chamber (of the kind De Sade wrote about) He dreams that he is trapped in an iron maiden, complete with spikes and that his face has been replaced by that of De Sade. He visits a friend who he discovers was a former owner of the skull. He knows it really is that of De Sade, and tells his friend that the agent now holding the skull stole it from him. However, he does not want the skull back. He is happy to be free of it, as he thinks it is cursed. All of its previous owners have come to an unpleasant end. Undeterred by this, the collector buys the skull. The seller himself admits that he was uneasy with having it in his possession for long. Soon after he takes ownership of the skull, the collector finds it rolling round the house chasing him. He dies in terror as it comes for him. Later, the skull is found. It no longer grimaces. It is grinning. Grisly and silly, with an inevitable end, but brilliantly written work that E A Poe might have been proud of. http://mgpfeff.home.sprynet.com/bloch.html
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