From the NY Times:
Richard Matheson, whose novels, short stories, screenplays and teleplays drew the blueprints for dozens of science fiction and horror movies and television shows, died on Sunday at his home in Calabasas, Calif. He was 87.
I’ve been a fan of I Am Legend and Matheson in general for many, many years, and I was saddened to hear of his passing. This seminal horror genre piece was once the most adapted piece of science fiction horror, with no less than three movie versions (four, depending on some sources). Though the final version with one of my favorite actors, Will Smith, ventured farthest from the source material, I actually enjoyed it most, not being a fan of Heston’s overacting or the black-and-white Vincent Price version (which has apparently been colorized).
As Stephen King said, without this book, Night of the Living Dead wouldn’t exist, and without that… well, maybe I would’ve written something other than The Dying of the Light, but things would certainly be different. Can you imagine a world without zombie culture? The term “go-bag” would mean something completely different, no doubt.
Until I read the piece in the Times, I had no idea he was so prolific. As it turns out, he’s not only written this great novella, but he also wrote the books that Stir of Echoes (with Kevin Bacon) and What Dreams May Come (with Robin Williams and one of my personal favorites) were based on.
And not only that, but he also wrote for several television shows, including Star Trek and Twilight Zone. Did you know he wrote the episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet? Yes, that’s the one with our very own Bill Shatner.
If I didn’t already have a box of stuff to read, I’d add lots of his other titles to it. Maybe one day. In the end, the world’s lost a fantastic writer, and everything seems a bit dimmer today. RIP, Mr. Matheson – your talent will be missed.