Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Monkey’s Paw

Today I want 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

Today I want 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

Today I want 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

Today I would like to talk 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

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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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Carmilla

Today I want to talk to you about one of the classic vampire stories, Carmilla.
This novella was written by Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872, a full 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, and follows the relationship between two young women.

Summary

The story is presented in a framing device, being a book by Dr Hesselius. The stories protagonist, Laura, describes her childhood in Styria, which is notably picturesque. Laura explains that when she was six, she had a vision of a beautiful visitor to her bedchamber, who she then describes as biting her, although no injury was ever found.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: Call of Cthulhu

As many of you may already be aware, I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. So once again I use the word review in the title of this blog lightly, as what is far more accurate a descriptor for this blog is an over-enthusiastic gush.

Today I am going to talk about The Call of Cthulhu. 

The Call of Cthulhu was written by H.P Lovecraft in 1926 and was published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1928. This is a marvellous story for a number of reasons, the foremost being that despite it being a ‘monster’ story it has it’s own unique take on the kind of fear that such a creature should inspire. 

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: At The Mountains of Madness

Today I want to talk to you about one of my favourite Lovecraft stories, At The Mountains of Madness. This story has inspired horror creators for years, resulting in books, films and games. The world would be a much poorer place without this story.

I recently picked up an audiobook collection of Lovecraft and have been listening to this particular story on the way to and from work. Listening to it has reminded me of just how much I enjoyed this and now I want to talk about how awesome it is.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror Reviews: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Classic horror has always been a favourite of mine, don’t get me wrong I love modern horror as well, but there’s something special about classic horror, something timeless and bone-chilling. Writer’s voices have a certain something to them that we seem to have lost over the years, a tone shift perhaps, or a way of speaking to your readers.

One of my all-time favourites is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.

Plot Summary

Gabriel and his cousin Richard are out on their weekly walk, Richard telling a story about how he is currently blackmailing Mr Hyde, but that the cheque he received was signed by a Mr Jekyll. Gabriel is shocked as he knows Jekyll and is aware he recently changed his Will, leaving everything to a Mr Hyde. He has concerns that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll.

Naturally, Gabriel tries to talk to Jekyll about this, but Jekyll freaks out a bit and demands that they leave Mr Hyde alone.

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror Review: The Picture of Dorian Grey

Horror has come a long way in the last few hundred years, it’s an interesting topic to consider how horror as a genre has evolved over the years and one best considered by looking at the past. Over the next several months I will be reviewing classic horror titles such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, along with many others.

Today’s book of choice is will be The Picture of Dorian Grey, a favourite of mine.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, The Picture of Dorian Grey is about the titular Dorian and his fall from grace. The story is an exploration of how an innocent may fall into depravity and how that kind of lifestyle will change a person and ultimately how they can, in some cases, be redeemed but not always. 

Overall, I think this story is a great example of horror, there’s the supernatural element in the form of the painting, which doesn’t just age instead of Dorian but also shows the physical signs of his soul becoming poison. But the real horror is the heart of men, how overindulgence and self-serving natures can make men real monsters.  

As there are several versions of this novel published and the plot is a ‘fluid’ thing which changes slightly from edition to edition. I will focus on the 1891 version here as it was the longest and most detailed.

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