Danny Sapani plays Sembene, an ally of Sir Malcolm’s from his African exploring days. He is Malcolm’s sentry and confidant, but will prove capable of much more.

Danny Sapani as Sembene in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”

*It’s grizzly, it’s disturbing, it’s old school twisted and it’s free.

The official premiere of Showtime’s new horror series “Penny Dreadful” is this Sunday (May 11), but the episode is available right now to both subscribers and non-subscribers in an attempt to lock down the latter. [Scroll down to watch.]

The show gets its name from old British publications of serial horror stories that would cost only a penny. In the same vein, the series, from creator John Logan (writer of “Skyfall”) and producer Sam Mendes, brings to life some of the most frightening and iconic figures in literary history – including Dracula, Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) – as they cope with alienation in 1891.

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Josh Hartnett, Eva Green and Timothy Dalton play the show’s main non-historical characters – Ethan Chandler (an American who finds himself trapped in Victorian London), Vanessa Ives (a mysterious beauty with precognitive abilities) and Sir Malcolm Murray (an African explorer), respectively. They work to prevent the stark horror surrounding them from destroying all of humanity.

“I didn’t want to just write a Frankenstein story or a Dracula story or a Dorian Gray. That’s why I created the characters that Eva and Josh played to be the centerpiece of the story,” said Logan, who wrote the pilot and executive produces. “I wanted a fictional story that was completely unknown to the audience, so there wouldn’t be any sense of familiarity of us playing on the tropes of what we’ve done before. And by going into it from sort of their perspective, as you will, it allowed me to look at the characters, characters I’ve, like, known and loved since I was eight from a new perspective.

“What I’m hoping is that genre fans like me, you know, the Comic Con geeks, will sort recognize that we love the fact that we’re playing in a familiar world, but we’re kind of playing with it differently, because we’re coming in with a whole new narrative involving these characters.”

Danny Sapani plays Sembene, an ally of Sir Malcolm’s from his African exploring days. He’s Malcolm’s sentry and confidant, but will prove capable of much more.

Below, Hartnett describes what his character – the group’s lone American – is doing in London.

“Penny Dreadful” premieres Sunday, May 11, at 10 p.m. on Showtime. The first two episodes are helmed by “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible” director Juan Antonio Bayona.

Watch the series premiere in its entirety below: