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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Memoriam: Richard Matheson

Written by Jon Williams

Well-known American writer Richard Matheson passed away on Monday. He was 87.

Matheson was a screenwriter and author of novels and short stories in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. He was most recognized for his 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend. He also wrote the notable novels Hell House, What Dreams May Come, and A Stir of Echoes, among others.

I Am Legend, about a lone human survivor of a pandemic that has turned the populace into bloodthirsty vampires, has been adapted into a movie three separate times: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price (1964), The Omega Man with Charlton Heston (1971), and I Am Legend with Will Smith (2007). Interestingly, it also influenced the development of zombie films, as it served as the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, which has been a major influence on the horror genre. Matheson himself influenced many horror writers in his own right, among them Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Anne Rice. King and Hill teamed up to write the story “Throttle” in homage to Matheson’s story “Duel”; the two stories can be found together in an audio compilation entitled Road Rage.

In addition to his acclaimed novels and short stories, Matheson also wrote and adapted stories for film and television.  He wrote several episodes of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, as well as the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” in which a transporter malfunction creates an evil manifestation of Captain Kirk. He adapted his own novels into the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Legend of Hell House, and Somewhere in Time, while What Dreams May Come came to the silver screen as well. More recently, the movies The Box and Real Steel were based on short stories by Matheson.

Matheson’s most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, was published in 2011. His voice will surely be missed by the genres he worked in and heavily influenced. For a full list of Richard Matheson audiobooks offered by CVS Midwest Tape, click here.

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