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R.I.P. Richard Matheson (1926 – 2013)

by on 2013/07/02

Richard Matheson (1926 - 2013)

“I hope I have done more than frightened a couple of generations. I hope I’ve inspired a few people one way or another.”


I’ve been meaning to acknowledge writer Richard Matheson in recent weeks. He has passed away at the age of 87.

Anyone with much interest in genre fiction will have been exposed to his work, perhaps without even knowing it. A few years ago I spent some time acquiring his complete short stories — which I highly recommend as bedtime reading — but originally it was an interest in early TV which served as my entry.

Matheson was instrumental in shaping Rod Serling’s landmark show, Twilight Zone. He also contributed to episodes of Alfred Hitchcock and Star Trek. Later, I would discover he did likewise with other great shows, like Richard Boone’s Have Gun Will Travel, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, and Steve McQueen’s Wanted Dead or Alive.

Most relevant to our site, he gave us a number of feature films, either already covered, or likely to be done in future. Here are just five picks I have in my stacks, waiting to be enjoyed, some for the umpteenth time, and others to discover in times to come…

Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

A “gift” from a prolific file-sharing friend first brought this piece to my attention. Surprisingly, it was more solid than expected from an average Atomic Age flick.

Since then, it’s showed up multiple times in my DVD collections, and I hope one day to revisit it for a Halloween marathon.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)The Last Man on Earth (1964)

* * *

The Last Man on Earth is one of many fun flicks I discovered through Off Beat Cinema . . . I probably own the Richard Matheson story it was based on, but have never actually read it. The closest I’ve come is to see other efforts based on it, like The Omega Man and I Am Legend, or similar variations, like Night of the Living Dead and The Quiet Earth.”

Duel (1971)Duel (1971)

* * * *

“Steven Spielberg’s early effort is a different kind of road movie. Based on one of author Richard Matheson’s latter day short stories, Duel distills his Twilight Zone past, and anticipates Spielberg’s own features to come, all filtered through the influence of Alfred Hitchcock.”

Twilight Zone the Movie (1983)Twilight Zone the Movie (1983)

For years, my only awareness of this movie was its tie-in paperback, which collected four short stories together (the bases for the feature-length anthology).

Since then, I’ve seen it but, tragically, even more horrifying than what’s onscreen is the real-life production disaster which ended the lives of three cast members.

Box (2009)The Box (2009)

An original Twilight Zone story adapted by the writer/director of Donnie Darko?

Uh . . . yes please.


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