Richard Matheson has left us, and more’s the pity, for he gave us so much. This is not even a full list of his “Number 1 hits”, let alone of his full body of work:
Film: for Roger Corman, he converted Edgar Allen Poe’s gripping prose into the silver-tongued speeches of Vincent Price villainy; The Masque of the Red Death is lurid and comical. He turned a regular guy into The Incredible Shrinking Man; unleashed a world of vampires upon the anti-hero lead of I Am Legend (that actors as different as Price, Charlton Heston, and Will Smith have portrayed Neville speaks volumes about how malleable, and mythic, that story has been). He launched grieving men on otherworldly searches for love, in the distant past (Bid Time Return, filmed as Somewhere In Time) or in the Afterlife (What Dreams May Come);
Television: He dreamed up, for The Twilight Zone, the “toy aliens” who invaded a farm house, a World War I pilot whisked to 1960, the gremlin on the wing of that airliner, etc. He is “to blame” for the transporter accident that split Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk into warring “angel” and “devil” twins. He let loose a demented, never-seen (and possibly, supernatural) trucker to besiege Dennis Weaver’s terrified motorist, in Duel. He sent Kolchak, the Night Stalker on his first monster hunts. He influenced Stephen King; The X-Files even named a UFO-seeking senator after him.
He was also kind and generous towards his fans; for instance, he once sent out a friendly, and helpful, reply to an awkward letter I had written to him, seeking professional advice from a Grand Master. Besides possessing such epic talent, he was reputed to be quite an excellent person, too, which suggests that those are not mutually exclusive traits, after all (take that, “divas” everywhere!). He is Legend, all right.
- Richard Matheson dies: A look back at his big-screen legacy (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- Stephen King on Richard Matheson’s Passing (namelessmag.jasunni.com)