SPOOK SHOW 68 Goodnight, Mr. Matheson

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He wrote the popular Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within”. For Hammer Films he adapted Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out (1968).[6] In 1973, Matheson earned an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for The Night Stalker, one of two TV movies written by Matheson that preceded the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Matheson also wrote the screenplay for Fanatic (US title: Die! Die! My Darling!), starring Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers.

Matheson’s first novel, Someone Is Bleeding, was published by Lion Books in 1953.[4] His early novels include The Shrinking Man (1956, filmed in 1957 as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again from Matheson’s own screenplay) and a science fiction vampire novel, I Am Legend, (1954, filmed as The Last Man on Earth in 1964, The Omega Man in 1971, and I Am Legend in 2007). Other Matheson novels turned into notable films include What Dreams May Come, A Stir of Echoes (as Stir of Echoes), Bid Time Return (as Somewhere in Time), and Hell House (as The Legend of Hell House), the last two adapted and scripted by Matheson himself. Three of his short stories were filmed together as Trilogy of Terror (1975), including “Prey” (initially published in the April 1969 edition of Playboy magazine) with its famous Zuni warrior doll. Matheson’s short story “Button, Button”, was filmed as The Box in 2009, and was previously adapted for a 1986 episode of The Twilight Zone.

In 1960, Matheson published The Beardless Warriors, a non-fantastic, autobiographical novel about teenage American soldiers in World War II. It was filmed in 1967 as The Young Warriors though most of Matheson’s plot was jettisoned. During the 1950s he published a handful of Western stories (later collected in By the Gun); and during the 1990s he published Western novels such as Journal of the Gun Years, The Gunfight, The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok and Shadow on the Sun. He has also written a blackly comic locked-room mystery novel, Now You See It …, aptly dedicated to Robert Bloch, and the suspense novels 7 Steps to Midnight and Hunted Past Reason.

In 1993, Matheson published a non-fiction work The Path, inspired by his interest in psychic phenomena.Matheson cited specific inspirations for many of his works. Duel derived from an incident in which he and a friend, Jerry Sohl, were dangerously tailgated by a large truck on the same day as the Kennedy assassination. A scene from the 1953 movie Let’s Do It Again in which Aldo Ray and Ray Milland put on each other’s hats, one of which is far too big for the other, sparked the thought “what if someone put on his own hat and that happened,” which became The Shrinking Man. Bid Time Return began when Matheson saw a movie poster featuring a beautiful picture of Maude Adams and wondered what would happen if someone fell in love with such an old picture. In the introduction to Noir: 3 Novels of Suspense (1997), which collects three of his early books, Matheson said that the first chapter of his suspense novel Someone is Bleeding (1953) describes exactly his meeting with his wife Ruth, and that in the case of What Dreams May Come, “the whole novel is filled with scenes from our past.”

According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson’s scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and early 1960s “anticipated pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.”

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SPOOK SHOW 68 Goodnight, Mr. Matheson

 

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