Halloween is exactly one week away, and I have the perfect little tale of terror for you! William Wymark Jacob’s macabre short “The Monkey’s Paw” has become one of those stories that has so infused itself in pop culture that it’s become almost a kind of myth or urban legend.
Movies, plays, comic books, TV shows, cartoons–part or all of this story has popped up again and again since it was published 114 years ago.
“The Monkey’s Paw” was first published in 1902 as part of a collection of Jacobs’ short stories called The Lady of the Barge. It has proven to be his most enduring tale and the one he is now best remembered for. This story is one of the great examples of a writer allowing the reader’s imagination to fill in some significant blanks, heightening the impact of the horror. I had an awful lot of fun recording this story, and I hope you will enjoy listening to it!
“The Monkey’s Paw” was adapted for the stage several times, as well as for various film versions, now lost, in the silent era. There was a 1933 pre-code film version from RKO—the studio that gave us “King Kong” in the same year, but that entire film unfortunately also currently appears to be lost. If anyone has any info about possible found prints, let me know! The lobby card is pictured above.
In this episode I also talk a little about Bob Clark’s Deathdream from 1974. I always liked this film, which is more inspired by the story than an adaptation. I talk about the film after the story is over, and I avoid spoilers. You can view the film in its entirety on Shudder. What? You don’t have it? Then get it!
If you are new to the podcast and want some other classic horror stories to carve pumpkins to this Halloween, check out of our Storytime Editions:
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