The Monkey’s Paw originates from the 1902 horror story written by W.W. Jacobs in which a husband and wife receive the monkey’s paw as a gift. The husband wishes to have his mortgage paid off which is results in the death of his son, whose death results in a lifer insurance policy paid out in the exact amount of the debt. Later the wife resurrects the son with the second wish. The husband, knowing how horrible the son’s grotesque appearance would be wishes his son to be dead and gone again.
The Chiller original film Monkey’s Paw hangs on to this legend, only the son comes back and murders his parents, leaving behind his younger brother who keeps possession of the paw until he’s a grown man.
Enter Jake Tilton (C.J. Thomason; General Hospital, Harper’s Island), a young man who works as a dock manager to help support his mother’s cancer treatment. Jake’s only friends seem to be Catfish (Corbin Bleu; High School Musical) and Tony Cobb (Stephen Lang; Avatar, Terra Nova). The two try to console Jake after, through no fault of his own, his boss is fired. Feeling bad troubled enough Jake is further troubled when his former boss shows up at the bar where Catfish, Cobb, and Jake are trying to enjoy a few beers. It’s here where the Monkey’s Paw comes into play.
The film of course reminded me of the more modern Faustian tales such as Bedazzled or even the 1950 version of the story, René Clair’s The Beauty of the Devil. Jake’s first wish, to own possession of a car he see’s in the parking lot of the bar, ends up costing him more then he could have imagined. From there things simply start to go downhill when Cobb is killed in a car accident and Jake is forced to bring him back to life.
As the film rolls on we follow the original story, but as Cobb turns into a homicidal maniac the film takes on slasher qualities that make Monkey’s Paw a bit of a fun ride. Cobb wields blunt weapons, chases down prey with a slow walker mentality that would make Jason Voorheese proud.
Monkey’s Paw seems like an upgrade to the NBC family compared to the network families SyFy made for TV movies. The elements are in place. Corbin Bleu fills out the quirky half forgotten movie star cameo, but that’s about where the buck stops. The quality of acting is far better, the special effects better, even the story isn’t a convoluted mess of aquatic monstrosities that, mind you have their appeal, are either laughable or quirky enough to be considered fun.
Monkey’s Paw is a well put together made for TV movie that has its ups and downs, but will probably satisfy your average slasher horror film fan. As always Stephen Lang is an imposing figure and makes a perfect killer. Weather or not the film’s finale floats your boat depends on how immersed you get into the story. In any case, it’s well worth checking out if you happen to have free time when it airs. Enjoy.