Available on iTunes Classic Tales of Horror provides over 3 hours of creepy stories. Patrick Malahide narrates all of them beautifully.
- The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs 26:06. I suppose most people are familiar with this story and its horrific warning against tampering with fate. The narration is excellent and Malahide gives life to all of the characters. His portrayal of the son Herbert is particularly good. He gives him such a lively personality which makes the tale all the more chilling and profound.
- Timber by John Galsworthy 23:38. This is one of my favorites. I can’t find an epub copy but I’m sure one must exist somewhere. What I like about this story is the combination of Galsworthy’s excellent use of words and Malahide’s ability to convey them. Together, they really make the atmosphere come to life. Listening to it, I could all-to-easily imagine being in the main character’s position of being lost in some very ominous and vengeful woodland. The ending is predictable but that does not make the story any less creepy or evocative.
- The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe 16:51. While this is not my favorite story, partly because it is very well known, I think it is one of the best read. Malahide’s low, growling voice is perfect for capturing the horror of the Red Death and Prince Prospero’s callousness and greed.
- The Squaw by Bram Stoker 30:38. This is a brilliant story of feline revenge. The ending is far too well telegraphed but Stoker makes it extremely satisfying by aligning the story and the cat to horrible events concerning an Indian “squaw”. I found myself very much on the cat’s side, by the way, but I don’t know if that is what Stoker intended. The American character (who triggers it all by stupidly, but accidently, killing the cat’s kitten), Elias P. Hutcheson is a very unlikable and boisterous character thanks to Malahide’s big and bold voice.
- Martin’s Close by M. R. James 43:21. Wow! This story is great. The action primarily centers in an old court case; Malahide really brings it to life with diverse voices and some very strong acting. I found this one to be more like a radio play, really, because the characters come across so vividly. I had no trouble imagining the action, the scenes, or the characters. It has a curious mixture of humor and horror. The judge and some of the witnesses are quite amusing, but the ghostly element is really frightening, especially if you allow yourself to dwell on the supernatural scenes they are describing! It is the longest story of the set, but it simply flew by for me because the narration is topnotch.
- The Man in the Bell by W. E. Ayton 16:04. This is the story of a man trapped beneath a huge, ringing church bell. It is an unusual sort of horror tale but just not quite my cup of tea. I did like that Malahide knew how to ratchet up the intensity and terror of the situation though.
- Caterpillars by E. F. Benson 22:20. This one is also rather unusual. It is described as a ghost story but, to me, had elements of science fiction. The ghostly caterpillars, who have pincers in place of legs, and the horror they portend (or, more likely, cause) is memorable and inventive. The way Malahide says the word ‘pincers‘ is frightening all on its own!
- Tale of Terror by Thomas Hood 7:03. The shortest of the stories is also my least favorite. It was more zany and weird than chilling. Fortunately, Malahide’s reading is very lively and suits the story’s madness.