Goodbye, Richard Matheson

I don’t know if another writer influenced my storytelling style more than Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, and dozens of unforgettable Twilight Zone episodes. It was reported just hours ago that he died yesterday at age 87.

Richard, enjoy your  journey into a wondrous land, where boundaries are that of imagination…

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22 responses to “Goodbye, Richard Matheson

  • Tana Constantin

    Another great mind has gone. It’s getting really close to the point where I can say all my favorite authors are dead… and I don’t like that thought.

    • ericjbaker

      There don’t seem to be any new Mathesons or Kurt Vonneguts out there. I think I can turn out a decent story, but I certainly don’t have whatever they had. Have you ever read “I am Legend”? That ending will stay with you for a long time.

      • Tana Constantin

        I read it when I was young, there is something about the way stories are told these days that just makes them seem to be bland. Churned out for mass consumption but without body or soul.

      • lectorconstans

        I missed the book (an oversight soon corrected), but did see “The Omega Man”. And of course, the Twilight Zone episodes (which seem to be alive on YouTube.)

  • nrhatch

    Poignant send off . . . it makes one wonder about the boundaries of the Twilight Zone.

  • Janna G. Noelle

    It’s sad when our creative heroes pass on.

  • Bryan Edmondson

    I am familiar with the name. He must have been a legend. I loved the twilight zone as a kid. When I was 8 out black and white t.v. set tube burned out and we only got the sound. Late nights my Mom, my little brother and I would sit in her bed in the dark, shivering in fear, listening to the twilight zone. Those were good times.
    It was writers like Matheson that gave the original series such a flavor for the surreal.

  • Bryan Edmondson

    p.s. I heard a rumor that Eric Baker was coming out on Kindle. Pass it around.

  • Jodi

    He’s left behind a huge legacy. Great tribute.

  • 1WriteWay

    Love this tribute, Eric. I have listened to some of Matheson’s books from Audible.com, in particular Hell House and I Am Legend. Listening to the end of I Am Legend was a truly chilling experience.

    • ericjbaker

      What a great story that is. The recent movie version was so pale. I understand that books don’t always work on film, but to change the point of the story and the meaning of the title in such a dumbed-down cliche way…

      • 1WriteWay

        We saw both movie versions: The Omega Man and I Am Legend with Will Smith. I actually saw both before I read the book. The Omega Man seemed truer to the book, but even with that, they had to muck up the ending. I guess movie audiences don’t like unhappy endings, even when they are far more plausible than a hopeful ending.

        • ericjbaker

          I should have know someone who read monster magazines would be familiar with The Omega Man. I actually like that film as a stand-alone story, partly because of the cool early ’70s vibe that is so unique to the time. But you’re correct about the ending. It would be hard to film the ending of the book as is, unless you turn the character’s thoughts into a monologue, which would be hokey to say the least.

          There was also a version in the early ’60s with Vincent Price called “The Last Man on Earth.” The staging is so lifeless it is hard to sit through. If Vincent Price can’t save your movie, you’ve got problems.

  • lectorconstans

    This may be a whole new thread – not entirely writing-oriented, but some of the comments touched on “book into movie”. (2000 words omitted here.)

    My two examples of not-so-good books turned into first-rate movies:

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    Capote’s story is dark and bleak. At the end, Holly does fly away to South America. He finally gets a postcard from her. The End.

    The Devil Wears Prada
    The book didn’t draw me in. It just didn’t work.

    The reasons the movies are great are the usual: good director, good screenplay (they threw out the bad parts and the dull parts), excellent acting (Hepburn, Peppard, Streep, Hathaway, a host of supporting characters), and in one case, a terrific hit song. (PS: Why doesn’t that mean “inspiring terror”?)

    For the other way around – fiarly good books turned into terrible movies – the list goes on and on.

    • ericjbaker

      This is a pretty controversial view, but I find Kubrick’s The Shining far superior to the book that inspired it.

      I haven’t read either of the books you mentioned, but the reverence people have for Breakfast at Tiffany’s to this day must mean it is at least as good as the book. Movies and books are different art forms (duh) and elicit different emotional responses and sensations, but a pretty reliable truth is that spending 150M makes for a lame movie version.

      Thanks for the comment!

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