ONTD Halloween Original™: 13 Movies & TV Episodes Inspired by The Monkey's Paw

Wish Upon © 2017 Broad Green Pictures & Orion Pictures

"We often confuse what we wish for with what is."
- Neil Gaiman, MirrorMask

We have all heard the phrase "Be careful what you wish for." The adage's origin isn't exactly known, but everyone understands its meaning. Our desire for gaining something without earning it clouds our judgment. There are consequences to everything in life so wishes can be a double edged sword. This idea is perfectly illustrated in W.W. Jacobs' classic tale "The Monkey's Paw." In the story, a person using a monkey's paw talisman is granted three wishes. Those wishes come true, but at a cost. For example: wishing for money causes someone else to die, thus supplying the source of money wished for.

Takes on this story have appeared in countless movies and television shows. Any true fans of classic Simpsons knows it. So what other movies and shows have been inspired by "The Monkey's Paw"? There really are too many to list completely, but these thirteen titles should tide you over. Maybe even teach you how to phrase a perfect wish.

Directed by Robert Kurtzman

When an evil jinn is freed in the modern world, he must have his master make three wishes so that he can unleash his brethren.

A jinn or djinn is a supernatural creature originally from Arabian mythology. They can be good, bad, or neutral in nature. The lore was twisted into that of the common genie: a benevolent or mischevous yet ultimately harmless being that grants his or her owner three wishes. Well, that's not what a jinn is at all. In this late '90s creature feature, both mythologies are combined for the sake of a story. Wishmaster doesn't have any blue guys singing or being stuffed inside a lamp (here it's a gem). It has a demonic-looking entity that relishes in destroying people through the power of wish. The movie is considerably cheesy by today's standards, but if you want some gory mayhem, the first Wishmaster is worth seeking out. There are three sequels. Should you watch them? Maybe the first one. The other two are another level of mediocrity that's hard to describe.

Directed by Larry Katz

A high school student receives a talisman that grants him three wishes.

Scream revived the interest in teen horror and slashers. Many of the movies were fairly generic and forgettable. Wishcraft didn't receive a wide theatrical release so it's safe to assume most people have never heard of it. The main story involves a "Monkey's Paw" type situation, but the wishes indirectly causes a cloaked killer to appear. So that's why this one is classified as a slasher. Audiences wanting something that doesn't veer too far from the unfamiliar yet somehow crave a touch of creativity should seek Wishcraft out.

Directed by Bob Clark

After their son died overseas in the Vietnam War, a family is surprised when he returns home unscathed. Or so they think.

The late Bob Clark is best known for A Christmas Story and the proto-slasher Black Christmas, but his other 1974 horror movie Deathdream often gets overlooked. Comparing it to Black Christmas, the two movies share a very similar visual style. From the snippets of heavy, unnerving breathing to the general atmosphere of some scenes. Deathdream adapts the "Monkey's Paw" story sparingly and without much surprise, but it's still a vintage treat.

Directed by Marina Sargenti

A teenager finds a strange antique mirror in her new house that grants wishes, but only with deadly consequences.

A Beetlejuice era Winona Ryder lookalike by the name of Rainbow Harvest (no, really) plays the main character in this obcure early '90s movie. Along with horror veteran Karen Black, the two gave commendable performances. This gothic teen horror flick has a sinister twist at the end that will delight some.

1994 / 1995
Directed by Rodman Flender (Leprechaun 2)
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith (Leprechaun 3)

A young man must save his girlfriend, who has been selected by the notoriously evil Leprechaun to be his wife. And later, the Leprechaun wreaks havoc in Las Vegas.

In the first two sequels to the original Leprechaun, starring Warwick Davis as the titular villain, the subplot of "wish-granting gone awry" was added. So these silly movies may have just very well inspired the Wishmaster series.

Directed by Tibor Takács

Terry's mother just passed away and his father is a jobless alcoholic. The teenager hopes to reopen the Gate so he can harness its power to fix his life.

Many people will write this sequel to the cult hit The Gate off as mediocre, but that's a harsh critque. No, it doesn't have the same magic as the first movie. What it does have is heart surprisingly enough. While the character of Terry doesn't seem like the best choice for making a movie about, it somehow works. He is a sympathetic protagonist who is so desperate to change the course of his home life that he'll summon otherworldly demons. The Gate II can stand on its own, but for different reasons.

Directed by Brett Simmons

A man makes wishes with a Monkey's Paw talisman. In doing so, he revives a dead co-worker. He soon regrets that decision.

Audiences would think they know exactly how this one will play out, but this solid take on the story goes in a whole other direction that is much appreciated.

Directed by Jae-yeon Yun

A stairwell in a boarding school dorm normally has twenty-eight steps. Sometimes a twenty-ninth step inexplicably appears, and whatever wish you make will be granted. Unfortunately for a ballet dancer and her classmates, a malicious spirit

The third movie in the Whispering Corridors franchise is self-contained much like the other sequels. And also like the other entries, it's laced with homosexual innuendo. The many sub-plots here bog down what is an otherwise eerie, gothic tale full of mystery, psychosexuality, and tension.

Directed by John R. Leonetti

A teenager finds a Chinese music box that grants wishes at a deadly price.

Wish Upon is Final Destination for a younger demo. As unremarkable as it is, the movie has a memorable if not mean-spirited ending.


Directed by Freddie Francis

When three sisters discover a Monkey's Paw in their late father's shop, they use it for personal gain.

By the last season of this generally outstanding horror anthology, there were some duds that almost marr Tales from the Crypt's reputation. "Last Respects" has nothing on the "Wish You Were Here" segment from the '72 Crypt movie, which was also directed by Freddie Francis. In fact, the episode is low brow even for this series, and there really is no gain from watching something so subpar.

Directed by D.J. MacHale

Two boys are gifted a twisted vulture's foot that not only grants wishes but also curses the users.

In one of the more indelible episodes of the classic Nickelodeon show, two boys experience the consequences of their wishes made upon a vulture's foot. Not sure why they changed that part, but it doesn't really matter either. Seeing as this is ultimately a show aimed at kids, things never enter darker territories like in other adaptations. That doesn't make "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" bad or inferior, though. It's just a context people should remember so they can enjoy the episode for what it is rather than what it isn't.


Directed by Jim O'Hanlon

Three council contractors assigned to clear out a dead man's flat uncover a rabbit figurine that grants wishes.

This heralded BBC anthology is a breath of fresh air for lovers of stories. Ones that stick with you because they typically boast a punchline or twist. The season four finale, "Tempting Fate," is well aware of its inspiration from "The Monkey's Paw." It even references the story and the rules. Does that help the characters? Not really. They still make the same mistakes. The episode, however, does have a twist as well as a largely grim conclusion.

Poll #2085942 Monkey's Paw

If you were given a legitimate Monkey's Paw, would you use it?

I'd let someone else use it first to see if it's cursed
Nah, I'd give it to someone I dislike

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What 3 things would you wish for with a Monkey's Paw?

- One winner per game.
- I'll randomly share horror movie plots in the comments: You determine if it's a real movie or a fake one (comment "Real" or "Fake").
- If it's a real movie, you must state the movie title, too.
- You can hide your answers using the LJ Spoiler tag:
- The winner is determined by the number of wins and speed. The last round will be noted as such.
- The prize: A $10 E-gift card from Amazon, Atom Tickets, Fright Rags, Grubhub, Lyft, or Sephora.