On This Day Richard Matheson Found What Dreams May Come

Today is the first anniversary of the day one of my five favorite writers of all time passed away.

little_girl_lost_chalk_portalMy first exposure to Richard Matheson was undoubtedly the Twilight Zone, where he delivered such classic episodes as the Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, Steel, Death Ship, and for me, the unforgettable Little Girl Lost, about a girl who tumbles through a spot in her bedroom wall into a pocket dimension.

Matheson famously split Captain Kirk into two halves via the transporter in The Enemy Within on the original Star Trek.

enemey-within-kirkThe first novel of his I can remember is I Am Legend. My high school English teacher had an old paperback copy of it sitting on the shelf. The cover art was of a man reaching up to heaven howling with a stake and a mallet in his hands as dozens of grasping hands clutched at him from the shadows. The cover copy read “The Last Man Alive On A Planet Of Vampires.”

It would be years before I read it, but it always stuck with me. It’s a seminal work, singularly most responsible for the zombie craze.

iamlegendI think the first book I read of his was The Shrinking Man, a harrowing, surprisingly existential story about a man shrinking to subatomic size.

The next, I think, was The Memoirs Of Wild Bill Hickock, a ‘found’ journal of the famous gunfighter debunking the myths of his life. I relished that book, one of the first westerns I ever read, and was astounded to make the connection at the end between this and ‘the guy who wrote for The Twilight Zone.’

Then I read What Dreams May Come.

It’s probably one of the finest, most life affirming novels I’ve ever read about the possibility of the continuance of the human soul unfettered by denominational dogma. A book I cherish, constantly recommend, and hope to pass on to my own children.

beardlessMatheson constantly surprised me. When I found out he’d written a World War II memoir, The Beardless Warriors, I rushed out and got it.  It’s a powerful first person account, deftly bringing a modicum of comprehension to the total insanity of war.

Another book that holds an honored place in my library is his collection of western short stories, some weird, many rivaling even early Elmore Leonard, By The Gun.

And prose wasn’t enough. Matheson was an accomplished screenwriter, penning such great flicks as The Devil Rides Out, and Somewhere In Time (based on his own novel, Bid Time Return).

Last year the world lost a very great talent.

Nothing further to add, except if you haven’t read Matheson, do so.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Matheson/e/B000AQ285E/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1403582681&sr=8-1

 

 

Return Of My Halloween Movie Repertoire

Well the world’s in it’s sear and yellow leaf, the pumpkins are smiling, and tooth decay is on the rise! Must be Halloween, kiddies!

Some say print is dead, but this is the time when the dead walk. Shambling off the shelves come tentacular extraterrestrial monstrosities by HP Lovecraft. A little further from the north are slews of nameless unutterable nightmares courtesy of Stephen King. Maybe Clive Barker’s got his hooks in you, or Graham Masterton. Maybe you’re a Twilight fan (and if you are, my condolences at the untimely passing of your taste – haha). Can I recommend some Richard Matheson, or some old fashioned terror tales by Poe or my personal favorite, Ambrose Bierce?

Yours truly has a couple scary books out. I’m the only ‘Erdelac’ on Amazon right now, so go and take a look.

But enough with the shameless plugging.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to curl up with a book (or have a book curl up with you), every year I update my holiday movie viewing lists, and it’s time once again to resurrect the old Halloween Repertoire, new and improved.

So what am I watching this year? Well I always watch stuff from this list, and am slowly introducing my like-minded daughter to some of the tamer entries. So far we’ve watched Brides of Dracula (her choice), Night of The Demon, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Giving Troll and The Haunted a try tonight.

Also, every year my buddy Jeff Carter hosts an evening of horror themed blacksploitation movies. We kicked off the inaugural year with the classic Blacula, and have moved through it’s sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, Blackenstein, Sugar Hill, and The Thing With Two Heads.

Up this year its Bernie Casey in Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde —

and either JD’s Revenge or The Beast Must Die.

Claire Bloom and Julie Harris face the terror of The Haunting

My favorite ghost stories – The Haunting (original), The Others, The Sixth Sense, Kwaidan, Poltergeist 1 and 2, The Shining, Stir Of Echoes, The Changeling, The Crow, The Screaming Skull, The Orphanage, The Entity, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, The Ring.

Devils/demons and diabolical witches can be found in – Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Exorcist III, The Sentinel, Angel Heart, Night Of The Demon, The Devil Rides Out, Hellraiser, Black Sabbath, The Craft, The Believers, Cast A Deadly Spell, The Omen 1 and 2, Suspiria, The Skeleton Key, Masque Of The Red Death, Pumpkinhead, Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch, The Evil Dead, Constantine, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Gate, Child’s Play.

Vampires get your blood racing?

'We keep odd hours.' Severn in Near Dark

Let me suggest – Near Dark, The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Todd Browning’s Dracula, The Hunger, Blacula (yes Blacula – it’s awesome), Kolchak The Night Stalker, Vampire’s Kiss, The Brides Of Dracula.

 

If the homicidally deranged are your bag, you can’t top – The Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Bad Seed, Audition (Odishon), Psycho (original), Misery, Halloween 1 and 2 (I also liked the remake of 1), Friday The 13th Part III, Silent Rage, Pin, Magic, Frailty, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, House Of Wax (original), Se7en, Peeping Tom, Silence Of The Lambs, Deep Red.

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne beware the moon.

Werewolves are a sadly under-represented pack of beasties. I like – Wolf, The Wolfman (both Lon Chaney Jr and the remake), Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, An American Werewolf In London, Ginger Snaps, The Curse Of The Werewolf, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Silver Bullet, Dog Soldiers and for a switch, Wolfen.

If you like your yucks with yuks, these horror/comedies are a good bet – Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland, Fright Night Parts 1 and 2, Student Bodies, Saturday The 14th, Dead Alive, Tremors, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Love At First Bite, Evil Dead 2, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken.

Bela Lugosi as zombie master Murder Legendre in White Zombie

Zombies anyone? I likes ’em slow, bitey, and numerous. – Dawn Of The Dead (original), Night Of The Living Dead, Land Of The Dead, Survival Of The Dead, Zombie, White Zombie, The Serpent And The Rainbow, Sugar Hill.

If you like your terror from beyond the stars – Village Of The Damned (original), Body Snatchers, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (70’s), Alien, Aliens, Phantasm, Predator, Event Horizon, The Thing, The Call Of Cthulhu, Horror Express, Lifeforce, Attack The Block.

It's as good as you've heard it is, bruv.

If, like Chunk, you hate nature, these will get your fur up – The Killer Shrews, Alligator, Pirahna, Night Of The Lepus, Arachnophobia, Kingdom of the Spiders.

Halloween For The Kids – It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, Monster House, The Halloween Tree, Monster Squad, Mad Monster Party, The Garfield Halloween Special, Disney’s Ichabod And Mr. Toad, Eloise’s Rawther Unusual Halloween, any of the recent Scooby Doo Movies.

Some gems that just don’t fit anywhere else – Creature From The Black Lagoon, Trick R Treat, Christine, Pan’s Labrynth, Creepshow, Nightbreed, Fiend Without A Face, The Fly (both the original and the remake), The Fly II, Carrie, The Other, Trilogy Of Terror, Monkey Shines, Todd Browning’s Freaks, The Descent, The Mummy (Original), The Manitou, 28 Weeks Later, Grimm Prairie Tales, Ravenous.

In the words of my biggest junior high crush, “Unpleasent Dreams!”

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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