Writer RICHARD MATHESON died this week. I can’t imagine anyone who’s a fan of horror or science fiction who hasn’t been touched in some way by Matheson, even if they didn’t know it was him. From writing classic episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (he wrote 16 episodes between 1959 and 1964, including such standouts as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel“), to scripts for tons of movies including the classic original TV-movies THE NIGHT STALKER and TRILOGY OF TERROR, and many of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe movies of the 1960s, to writing classic novels like I AM LEGEND, THE SHRINKING MAN, HELL HOUSE, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, STIR OF ECHOES and many more, several of which were adapted into movies, Matheson seemed to be everywhere when I was growing up in the 70s, and I for one was pretty thankful that he was so prolific. Every new Matheson project, whether it was a book or a movie or a TV episode, was a reason to celebrate.
Hearing earlier this week that he had passed away on June 23rd at the age of 87, was awful news. But he has left us with so much to remember him by.
Just some of the movies that he either wrote the screenplays for, or which were based on his fiction, include:
- THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) – he wrote the screenplay based on his novel, “The Shrinking Man”
- THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960) – the first of many Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that Matheson would write for director Roger Corman, this one, like many of them, starred the great Vincent Price.
- MASTER OF THE WORLD (1961) – based on the novel by Jules Verne, also starring Vincent Price.
- THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961)
- BURN, WITCH, BURN (also known as NIGHT OF THE EAGLE) (1962) – Matheson’s screenplay was an adaptation of the novel “Conjure Wife,” by Fritz Leiber.
- THE RAVEN (1963)
- THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963)
- THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) – the first movie version of his classic novel, “I am Legend.” He also wrote the screenplay, using the name “Logan Swanson.” This one also starred Vincent Price.
- THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) Based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley
- THE OMEGA MAN (1971) – the second adaptation of Matheson’s “I am Legend,” this time with the vampires swapped out for mutants, and starring Charlton Heston.
- DUEL (1971) – Matheson wrote the screenplay, based on his story. This was the first feature film by Steven Spielberg.
- THE NIGHT STALKER (1971) – the TV-movie that introduced the world to reporter Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin.
- THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1973) – TV-movie sequel to THE NIGHT STALKER.
- THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) – feature film based on his novel, “Hell House.”
- TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975) – TV-movie based on three Matheson stories, the most famous segment was the last, “Amelia,” based on Matheson’s story “Prey,” about a “Zuni warrior figurine” that comes to life. All three stories starred Karen Black.
- THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES (1980) – TV miniseries based on the classic book by Ray Bradbury
- SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) – Matheson wrote the screenplay, based on his novel, “Bid Time Return.”
- WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998) – based on his novel of the same name
- STIR OF ECHOES (1999) – based on his novel of the same name
- I AM LEGEND (2007) – the third film to be based on Matheson’s novel, and arguably the least successful. Starring Will Smith.
- REAL STEEL (2011) – based (sort of) on his short story of the same name
He leaves a large and wonderful legacy behind.
Farewell, Mr. Matheson.