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Tales To Terrify No 31 George G. Toudouze

August 10, 2012 by Tony C. Smith

Coming Up:

Good evening 0:00:00

Main Fiction: Three Skeleton Key by George G. Toudouze 0:03:55

Drama: Three Skeleton Key adapted by James Poe for Escape, aired March, 17, 1950, on the CBS Radio Network 0:34:30

Pleasant Dreams 1:08:13

Narrator: Lawrence Santoro


  1. Oh No, not another royalty free Dead Zone Public Domain story.

    Not saying that it isn’t any good Larry, But beside your story the last three weeks have only brought us people who died long before I was even born.
    And so much from that age is the “The girl is not a girl but a ghost who died in this very house one year ago aoooOOooooOOhh”

    And while there isn’t anything inherently wrong about it. I hate seeing time used up on the non living when there are so many writers looking for press out there.

    The Hodgson had many other audio versions freely available and just seemed like a waste to me.

    Course I’m not running the show and not sure how close and important the story is to you(Sorry that was a Episode I didn’t listen too) But I do check several times Thursday night to see if and what the new story is going to be, And when it’s turns out to be not new in the slightest of bits. I just pray that it’s only a every now and then thing.

    Your not looking at old Vincent Price recordings are you LOL.
    Theres plenty of OTR stuff out there for those looking for it.

    Your doing a Great Job, And I Love it, thats why I’m Fussin, I had to gripe when Tony was talking about doing the same thing on the Sofa.

    Flappa Jon M.D.

    • Yeah, you are NOT running the show. Thank goodness! (er.. or thank darkness, I guess.) “3 Skeleton Key” is a classic Terror Tale, maybe one of the very best, and it should be played for all to hear who have not.
      Keep up the great work Lawrence Santoro – u RAWK!

  2. Dear Doctor Jon,

    I can understand your frustration, Doc. These dudes were dead long before even I was born and I’m very, very old. So, too, was Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker, Horace Walpole, and that hasn’t stopped many contemporary fans — and writers — of the genre from ignoring their work. Simply because a piece is a classic, doesn’t mean it is read or even known-of. And, yes, there are plenty of old time radio recordings out there for those looking for them. Point here being, unless you know they’re there, you won’t look and consequently will never know what you’ve missed.

    My wife, Ms. Tycelia, is my age and is a fan of radio from our mutual but seperate kidhoods, yet she has never heard of this story and never heard the radio piece based on it until I pulled out the MP3 disc and played it for her. As a sidebar: Tycelia was a French literature major and never heard of George Toudouze or even of his far more famous father, Gustave Toudouze.

    But I do get your point and, as I’ve said, one of the reasons I took on the hosting of TtT was to be able to introduce some writers to the world whom the world had so far missed. That means dead writers as well as living ones. In my experience of a few decades of hanging with horror fans and authors, I’ve been struck by the fact that so many of them do not read beyond their own times, have perhaps heard of W.H. Hodgson and even H.P.Lovecraft but have never read their work. For many, the far-gone olden days of the field lie in “Carrie” and “Salem’s Lot.” Both excelent books.

    Be patient, Flappa Jon. It’s summer. Think of this as the summer replacements. We’ll be back among the living very soon. With a bang and lots and lots of whimpers.

    And thank you for takiing the time to share your thoughts. I hope more people do the same.

  3. Whereas I, on the other hand, am always happy to hear the classics, even familiar ones, as sometimes it’s the interpretation that makes all the difference (no one has beaten Erik Bauersfeld’s version of “The Rats In The Walls” yet, and that’s nearly 50 years old).

    Great to hear this as a piece of fiction, as I was already well familiar with the ESCAPE version/s, as I’d never read the actual text. Those who are fans should check out the episode of Nigel Kneale’s (QUATERMASS, THE STONE TAPE) UK anthology show BEASTS called “During Barty’s Party” from 1976. Viewable here:


    And perhaps also might get a giggle from this (Joe Flaherty – one of my personal heroes!) – you’ll know why when you get to it:


  4. Oh, and regarding the outro…

    Along with Ken Nordine’s FACES IN THE WINDOW done on early live television out of Chicago in 1953 and Erik Bauersfeld’s BLACK MASS on KPFA in San Francisco in the early to mid 1960s, I personally consider Nelson Olmsted’s SLEEP NO MORE one of the trinity of historical precursors to what we do on PSEUDOPOD and what you do on TALES TO TERRIFY. And Olsted did indeed do a version of “Three Skeleton Key” on the February 27, 1957 episode (twinned with Jack London’s “To Build A Fire”). It (and the rest of the available SNM) is available for listening here:


    And always happy to hear Jean Shepherd and Long John Nebel get a mention (Nebel was key in keeping one of my favorite pieces of American paranormal mythology – the Shaver Dero stories – in the pop cult consciousness of the U.S., not to even mention the paranoia of the whole thing with his wife, Candy Jones, and CIA mind control).

    And I’d also smiled happily to myself when I’d realized you were using Raymond’s old sign off as a recurrent piece of the show back when TTT started – I grew up with it as transmitted from INNER SANCTUM to E.G. Marshall and THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER thanks to the link of Himan Brown being involved in both shows. Ahhh, those long trips up the Garden State Parkway to Brooklyn…

    • Yes, Nelson Omstead reads “3 Skeleton Key” on Sleep No More. However, on Sleep No More – Nelson Omstead reads fast, racing through the text, till you loose all the drama and suspense of the tale. Lawrence Santoro is a better reader. Give SNM a listen, and you’ll appreciate Lawrence Santoro all the more.

  5. I liked your reading, Larry, much better than the old audio drama. The adaptation was bad enough, but the excessive melodramatism worthy of Hammer House productions…

    The author was an unknown to me. Thanks for the introduction!

  6. Hey Larry, Yeah Great Reading and I certainly want you to treat your puppy how you like to(ya know, feed it the things you like etc) I just wanted to make sure there was no need for me to be more Frightened by the OTR being New Time and replacing the stories I look forward to on here.

    I should of known better, But one always hears steps behind ones back ya know.

    One of the Gone but probably still moving about in their coffin writers I’d like to see you do is Robert Bloch. Not that I actually think the Hell Bound Train and Your’s Truely Jack the Ripper is the Pillar of Brilliance some try to lead me to believe, and isn’t horribly dated.(“Oooooohhh I’m the Killer you Seek” etc) and all that, But some of his work is really good.

    “A Case of the Stubborns” was Wonderful as well as being probably the most effective Tales from the Crypt episode. Thats a slap Dasher there for ya.

    I also remember Whitley Strieber upsetting me seemingly to no end with his I wrote a book with a teenage Werewolf/Witch/Alien crapazilla stuff. And finally reading his stuff just to trash it, and horrifically finding a few works I had to consider might be by a possibly Brilliant Mind.

    That maybe he just sold out and was taking all the chumps to the bank with all the tabloid junk(which did work all too well as you know) But he’s still at it all these years latter so one has to wonder what I was thinking….. Anyway his stories from the Eighties “Pain” and Especially “Horror Story” about a writers creation debating if the writer is God.(Least thats some of what I remember)were Fantastic, Maybe you read them and think the same and just might want to see if you can pull the Alien Puppet Strings and get one on.

    Well I as always can’t wait till next Friday.
    Flap Jack Mulligan
    Take Em Easy.

  7. Opps,
    Tales from the Darkside(Not Tales from the Cryps)

  8. This was an interesting experiment and worth the time. I’m not certain I’d want all TALES TO TERRIFY stories to have sound effects or musical accompanyment, but it was a nice change and added to the radio drama.

    Overall, I think I prefer the story as written, and your narration of such, over the radio drama version, but by a very narrow margin. The story as written was a bit too “telling rather than showing” which slowed down the narrative, although that may have been a matter of taste. WIt gave a better sense of the peace and pleasure of working at the lighthouse, how the PoV character enjoyed the work and what he hoped to gain from being there. The end wasn’t quite as chilling as I might have hoped, but it did fit nicely with the rest of the story and seemed far more believable.

    The radio drama (and, as always, kudos to Mr. Price) lent itself o the melodramatic feel of old time radio horror/suspense stories. I was a bit taken aback by the description of “foul wind” blowing from the mainland, a bit over the top IMO. We were dropped almost immediately into the action, and time was condensed for the sake of keeping the listenner engaged, but I missed the sense of comfort from the lighthouse. And the ending of the rats simply disappearing, heading to the ship, seemed lackluster and somehow tacked on…until Price’s last line, which captured and answered questioned from the story as written.

    As far as other authors or offerings, I like a mix of new and old. Bloch would be nice. I admit I don’t know enough about copyrights and/or older authors by name (great at remembering story ideas, lousy at remembering names) to know the best way to progress one way or another. As for living authors, Haldeman, Hill, Wellman (while some of his stories are not exactly horror, they do offer a supernatural chill). Much like many genres, the face of horror is changing and it is difficult to capture all of its many faces.

    • Sandra,
      It is hard to create a reasonable ending to such an extreme situation: trapped in a light house with some “thing” outside trying to get in. You’re trapped. No way out. No way to get help. Then, they start getting in… very scary! But, really hard to write an ending that saves your hero. I’m afraid modern horror writers would opt for a downer ending. But who wants that?

      Remember “The Day of the Triffids”? Recall the end of the movie, when the Triffids were crawling up the stairs of the light house? No way out! Horrible death seconds away! Then… that last minute escape! Gosh the Triffids have ONE weakness… Jeepers! They can’t take… sea water! Being hosed down with sea water kills them! And here’s a hose! Quick! Sploosh! Triffids dissolve into goo. Whew!, that was a close one! Happy ending!
      A bit silly sure, but I’d rather that, than our heros being eaten alive.

  9. Thanks for your comments, everyone. Sandra, thanks for your assessment of story vs. drama. As I’ve mentioned, I always prefer the equivocal to the specific, so I love the ending James Poe gave the tale, more creepy tale-telling than monster-movie finale. I love the notion of the rats suddenly realizing a far more fulsome meal awaits them on the banana boat. I have had an image of their departure in my head for years, decades. And it was so simply stated in the show: the lonesome cornet in the night breaking off with a cracked note in the Offenbach, then quiet. Chills.

    But I do thank you for your kind words. Keep listening.

  10. I’ve been meaning to say that I loved the radio “reprint” in this episode. I’m sure not all radio dramas were great, but man, they used to come through the airwaves almost free every night. Even though I’ve never known those days, somehow I miss them. Gathering around the radio to hear stories of pirates and aliens and gangsters. I remember the resurrection of anthology television shows in the ’80s: Twilight Zone, Monsters, Amazing Stories. Wonderment and fright and dreams and nightmares plucked from the air. And now today, with podcasts like this one at my fingertips. I guess the days of radio drama didn’t entirely disappear. The medium just changed. Thanks for being my Vincent Price, my Grandpa Munster, my Svengoolie.

  11. Aloha Terror Tribe!
    I’m sorry I cannot agree with Flappa Jon M.D. the work of dead writers is wasting podcast space?
    Wow. You cannot be serious.
    That is really a very silly thing to say.
    I guess if you think the podcast is here only for the purpose to pay new writers and give them exposure -That makes sense.
    But isn’t the podcast here to entertain the audience with the best “terror” stories to be found? I mean if we follow your advise we would never discover Poe, or H.P. Lovecraft, or even Ray Bradbury. You cannot tell me that “Harry Potter” is superior to “The Lord of the Rings” because the writer is living, while J.R.R. is resting in peace. I love hearing good stores, no matter when they were written. And I do not want to miss any treasures from the past because it was written by a guy who was “dead before I was born”. So, you’re saying the only good writer is one who is living after you came into the world? Silly. Very silly.

    That’s like saying the original black & white version of “The Haunting” is not as good as the new remake in color with computer effects… when, in fact, the remake was total crap and the original film stands as one of the best, most chilling movies of all time. Period.

    Please find more amazing old stories… and especially stories read by such gigantic talents as Vincent Price.( Come on, it’s Vincent Freakin’ Price! It doesn’t get much better!)

    H.P. Lovecraft was dead before I was born, yet reading his stories as a teenager changed my view of books, fiction, the world, and horror forever! I discovered Lovecraft & Heavy Metal music in the same summer. Actually, it was H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” & Judas Priest’s 1st Album “Sad Wings of Destiny” – an old story and, at that time, a brand new rock album. Together they mixed in a amazing nightmarish mind blowing and mind expanding terror filled experience that gave me a whole summer of “Thrills and Chills” on a vast cosmic level I’d never come close to again… it was sheer dark magic.

    I hope young folks can still find that magic for themselves.

    The best terror tales of great horror writers are, sadly, few and far between. Sorry. The stories of Poe have not been out done… yet, and you know what? I don’t think ever will be! We should cherish these stories, old or not.

  12. Aloha Terror Tribe!
    Okay…here I am again…. giving this episode ANOTHER listen. It’s just soooooo good.
    Big Mahalo!

  13. I like the story Larry Santoro

  14. SOOOO excited to find this version so that I can play it while students follow in the book. Thank you!

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  1. […] is a fabulous audio version of Three Skeleton Key by Larry Santoro at his Tales To Terrify. (Includes the radio play by Vincent Price from 1950 […]