Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Masque of the Red Death

I’m not dead!

Today I am writing to you about The Masque of the Red Death. 

This is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe that was published in 1982. In a nutshell, it is a story about a prince who wants to avoid the plague. He does so by holding a party in an abbey (Good lord this gives me flashbacks to news stories during COVID-19). 

This is a very popular story and has been adapted more times than I can count. One version even starred Vincent Price. It has also been mentioned and referred to in countless other media. 

Summary

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Prince Prospero (Great name) is afraid of dying from the plague, as many people would be. The plague is referred to as the Red Death, due to the epic bleeding from the pores. So, he sequesters himself and a bunch of other noble-born people into an abbey. While there they hold elaborate parties across the abbey’s seven rooms. The last room is pretty foreboding and not a lot of people are brave enough to enter. 

After midnight a new face appears, disguised as a Red Death victim. Prospero freaks out as this party crasher moves through each of the rooms. Eventually, he confronts the crasher and dies as a result. The Red Death costume is shown to contain absolutely nothing. 

Everyone dies.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Bottle Imp

Genie in a bottle

Today I am writing to talk to you about The Bottle Imp.

This story, by Robert Louis Stevenson, was published in the New York Herald in 1891 and can normally be found in his collection ‘Island Nights’ Entertainment’.

As you may have guessed from the title this is the story about a genie, though there is another element to it, that being if the person who holds the bottle dies with it in their possession, then their soul is Hellbound.

Summary

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Keawe is a Native Hawaiian and is somewhat cash strapped. At the beginning of the story, he buys a strange unbreakable bottle from an old man who claims the bottle is responsible for his fortune. The old man claims that the imp living inside the bottle will grant Keawe his heart’s desire.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Outsider

You are the monster

Today I am writing to you to talk about one of Lovecraft’s shortest but possibly most effective short stories, The Outsider.

The Outsider is a beautifully written short regarding a chap escaping a castle.

The story is told in first person, which was a means of story telling Lovecraft favoured to an extent. Our narrator talks about his life, focusing on how lonely and isolated he has been and ultimately how unhappy. He has no real memory of other people, or even where he is from originally. He also describes his environment, the dark and rather run-down castle that squats in an endless forest. The narrator has never even seen natural light. All his knowledge from outside world comes from books.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Monkey’s Paw

Be careful what you wish for

Today I am writing to talk to you about the short story The Monkeys Paw. 

I cannot imagine that you will not have seen, or heard of, one of the parodies of this story. Someone finds a severed monkey hand that grants wishes that all turn out to produce hopelessly ironic consequences. The adaptations and parodies cross almost all mediums from television to plays, films, comics and even cartoons. The Simpsons did a Halloween episode of the story, the turkey’s a little dry! 

That aside, the original short story was penned by W.W Jacobs in 1902 and was published in the collection titled The Lady of the Barge. 

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Legend of Sleepy hollow

Headless horseman for the win

Today I am writing to talk to you about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow is a short story written by Washington Irving in 1820 and I imagine most of you will be familiar with the story even if you have not had the opportunity to read the original short.

The story follows Ichabod Crane, a meek man, as he contends with the local bully Brom Bones for the hand of the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel.

This story has been adapted time and time again, it’s been television series, it’s been a play, it’s been movies, and it’s been animated by Disney. It is almost impossible not to know this story in one iteration or another.  

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe

Doplegangers galore

Today I am writing to talk to you about one of the slightly lesser-known stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and by lesser-known I do not mean unknown, I just mean that it isn’t referred to as much as say The Raven or The Tell-tale Heart.

I am talking about William Wilson. The story of a man who encounters his doppelganger and was inspired by Washington Irving’s “An unwritten Drama of Lord Byron” which was also about a doppelganger.

I personally feel that this short story is underrated, especially as Poe himself labelled it as his best effort.

It was published in the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840. It has since been adapted many times across many different countries in both film, comic, and radio play. It is also referenced in various modern creations, for example by one of my favourite modern authors Stephen King who’s novel The Outsider draws a parallel between the situation faced by the main character and Poe’s story of William Wilson. The Outsider has been said (by King) to have been inspired by the story William Wilson.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Frankenstein

It’s alive!

Today I am writing to you about one of the most well-known classic horror stories, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’m going to warn you straight up I have strong feelings about the main character in this story that I struggle to get past.

Summary

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This story is presented in an almost inception -like manner, or if you prefer a Woman in Black manner, that being the narrative within a narrative. The novel is presented as a fictional correspondence between Capt. Walton and his sister Margaret Savile. Walton is exporting the North Pole by Sea when he and his crew spot a gigantic person on a dogsled and several hours later rescue a gentleman by name of Victor Frankenstein.

Once onboard, Victor is only too keen to tell Walton the story of his entire life beginning with his childhood including his parents’ adoption of Elizabeth Lavenza, the orphaned daughter of an Italian nobleman with whom Victor falls deeply in love with. The family also adopt another orphan Justine who becomes a nanny for the other children. During this telling, Victor makes clear his interest in the sciences and is not shy about praising his ingenuity. Victor goes off to university at Ingolstadt, shortly after his mother’s passing, and to deal with the grief he buries himself in his experiments and becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing life to non-living matter.

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