Richard Matheson on Film

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thirtyframesasecond
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Richard Matheson on Film

#1 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:27 pm

I think a few Matheson adaptations have been discussed across the forums, but so many of his work has been adapted for television and film that it deserves its own thread!

I was watching Somewhere in Time earlier today, which is probably not considered amongst the best of those adaptations, but remove the implausible logic of the time travel, and it's pretty moving once you factor the Rachmaninoff in!

Any faves?

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DeprongMori
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#2 Post by DeprongMori » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:41 pm

I just watched Arrow’s recent release of “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and can highly recommend it for its existential dread.

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See Rad
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#3 Post by See Rad » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:12 pm

Do his books have any literary value at all? I've skimmed through some paragraphs at the library and the writing always seems tailor-made to be filmed, rather than read. Does he just utilize an economical style or was he, after a certain point, glibly going for the movie/TV sale?

Slaphappy
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#4 Post by Slaphappy » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:21 pm

See Rad wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:12 pm
Do his books have any literary value at all? I've skimmed through some paragraphs at the library and the writing always seems tailor-made to be filmed, rather than read. Does he just utilize an economical style or was he, after a certain point, glibly going for the movie/TV sale?
I Am Legend is a very good book and any of the movies don’t come even close capturing its idea or mood.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#5 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:59 am

I've got the last Penguin set of short stories and most are fairly economic in their style and length. Most were written for sci-fi magazines. Born of Man and Woman is the first in this set, and one of his very first, and its first person narrative pulls the rug from under you. Shipshape Home is a good one from that collection too. You won't look at apartment janitors the same way. Not read the full length novels though.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#6 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:40 am

Hell House is another great novel by Matheson. That and I Am Legend are all I've read so far, but based on that, I wouldn't take his involvement in screenwriting as an indication that that's all he ever had in mind. His books are wonderfully atmospheric, and I'd definitely recommend giving them a go. While it's yet another one that was adapted for screen, I've heard The Incredible Shrinking Man is a really good book also.

Just as Slaphappy noted, no one's yet to do justice to I Am Legend on film, and I think it's his style of writing - they seem to exist a fair bit within the character's psychology, which obviously doesn't translate to the standard 3rd person viewpoint of film so well.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#7 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:59 pm

I thought the recent post-apocalyptic horror film, The Girl With All The Gifts did the ending of I Am Legend better justice than the three official adaptions. I still wished someone adapted the novel properly. The first adaption was hampered by a low budget, lethargic pacing and a miscast Vincent Price and the other two thought they had to improve on Matheson's novel, to the detriment of the films. I don't actually think it would be that difficult to make a great movie from the book.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#8 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:12 am

It certainly wouldn’t. Maybe it just needs to be a smallish film to discount any ‘star power’ or big studio interference. Though that’s a lot tougher than it was twenty years ago for a genre film like this would be.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#9 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:03 am

Adam Grikepelis wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:12 am
It certainly wouldn’t. Maybe it just needs to be a smallish film to discount any ‘star power’ or big studio interference. Though that’s a lot tougher than it was twenty years ago for a genre film like this would be.
Making it a 100 million blockbuster the last time was exactly where they went wrong. Considering most hit horror films are low to medium budget, it should be made on the scale of A Quiet Place, 28 Days Later or indeed The Girl with all the Gifts, all of which pulled off a post apocalyptic horror movie on a modest budget. It doesn’t need to be a blockbuster vehicle for Will Smith, it should be a 5 to 20 million movie starring a good character actor like Bryan Cranston. The most eerie scenes in the novel are Neville barricaded in the house of his LA suburb with the vampires calling for him.

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colinr0380
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:43 am

In some ways last year's Mummy movie with Tom Cruise was this decade's version of Will Smith in I Am Legend. A bit too much of a blockbuster to be allowed to be truly disturbing as a horror film.

I actually have some issues with The Girl With All The Gifts as well, mainly that it feels incredibly structurally indebted to The Last of Us.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#11 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:58 am

I wouldn’t know as I don’t play games but The Girl With All The Gifts is indebted to a few sources, from I Am Legend to Day of the Triffids to Romero's Day of the Dead. It’s still is a better movie than any the adaptations of the first two.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#12 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:19 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:58 am
I wouldn’t know as I don’t play games but The Girl With All The Gifts is indebted to a few sources, from I Am Legend to Day of the Triffids to Romero's Day of the Dead. It’s still is a better movie than any the adaptations of the first two.
The BBC's 80's version of Triffids is fantastic - the Sekely / Fisher film and the more recent BBC adaptation rather less so...

I've read The Shrinking Man - it's a tough read, and yes full of "existential dread". It's a long time since I saw the film (the Arrow release is in my kevyip) but from memory I'd say it's a bit lighter in tone but otherwise pretty close to the book.

The great unmade adaptation of I Am Legend remains Hammer's - they had an (apparently) very good screenplay, I think by Matheson himself, but the BBFC pre-vetted it and told them there was no way it would be passed for UK release with the result that it was canned in the pre-production stage.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#13 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:29 pm

I realise that like all British genre TV, the 80s version of Day of the Triffids has a very enthusiastic and vocal fanbase, but I found it incredibly dull, talky, ugly looking and let down by the usual low production values. Maybe it was great when it came out but I watched a repeat twenty years later and it doesn't hold up.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#14 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:08 pm

Dr Amicus wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:19 pm
Lost Highway wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:58 am
I wouldn’t know as I don’t play games but The Girl With All The Gifts is indebted to a few sources, from I Am Legend to Day of the Triffids to Romero's Day of the Dead. It’s still is a better movie than any the adaptations of the first two.
I've read The Shrinking Man - it's a tough read, and yes full of "existential dread". It's a long time since I saw the film (the Arrow release is in my kevyip) but from memory I'd say it's a bit lighter in tone but otherwise pretty close to the book.
The movie's version's whole problem is that it hews too closely to the book, turning what should be an inventive and exciting survival/adventure b-movie into a leaden and self-important problem picture with endless pseudo-philosophical voice overs and a dour, over-serious tone. Dr. Cyclops is a much better version of the same premise, not least because it realizes the audience is supposed to have fun!

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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#15 Post by Slaphappy » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:15 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:58 am
I wouldn’t know as I don’t play games but The Girl With All The Gifts is indebted to a few sources, from I Am Legend to Day of the Triffids to Romero's Day of the Dead. It’s still is a better movie than any the adaptations of the first two.
Maybe I need to see this. I think both Matheson’s I Am Legend and Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids still remain unparalleled in cinema in many ways when it comes to post-apocalyptic genre. I do like the 80’s Triffids tv-series a lot thought and the movie had some very good moments too.

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zedz
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#16 Post by zedz » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:34 pm

Slaphappy wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:15 pm
Lost Highway wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:58 am
I wouldn’t know as I don’t play games but The Girl With All The Gifts is indebted to a few sources, from I Am Legend to Day of the Triffids to Romero's Day of the Dead. It’s still is a better movie than any the adaptations of the first two.
Maybe I need to see this. I think both Matheson’s I Am Legend and Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids still remain unparalleled in cinema in many ways when it comes to post-apocalyptic genre. I do like the 80’s Triffids tv-series a lot thought and the movie had some very good moments too.
This made me idly wonder whether Wyndham's The Chrysalids had ever been adapted to the screen, and apparently it hasn't, though there have been a couple of radio adaptations and Jefferson Airplane's song 'Crown of Creation' was based on it. The story may be a little unwieldy, but you could easily pitch it as a post-apocalyptic Handmaid's-Tale-meets-the-X-Men.

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jazzo
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#17 Post by jazzo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:25 am

So, no fans of the Francis Lawrence version of I Am Legend? I've read a lot of Matheson, and after the tidal wave of criticism it received upon its release, I waited until DVD to watch the director's cut. And I have to admit, aside from some occasionally clunky CGI, I was very pleasantly surprised that the that such a largely-budgeted summer blockbuster was able to create such a sense of isolation and, in certain sequences, dread.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#18 Post by Dr Amicus » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:02 am

It's some time since I saw it, but I remember it started fine but as it progressed and moved more into blockbuster territory it became less interesting. And, as has been noted many times elsewhere, it completely reverses the meaning of the title from the book.

Incidentally, this had been a Ridley Scott / Arnie project for years - does anyone know if the script originated from that period?

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#19 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:21 am

Dr Amicus wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:02 am
It's some time since I saw it, but I remember it started fine but as it progressed and moved more into blockbuster territory it became less interesting. And, as has been noted many times elsewhere, it completely reverses the meaning of the title from the book.

Incidentally, this had been a Ridley Scott / Arnie project for years - does anyone know if the script originated from that period?
It was still the same project many drafts of the screenplay later.

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cdnchris
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#20 Post by cdnchris » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:32 am


jazzo wrote:So, no fans of the Francis Lawrence version of I Am Legend? I've read a lot of Matheson, and after the tidal wave of criticism it received upon its release, I waited until DVD to watch the director's cut. And I have to admit, aside from some occasionally clunky CGI, I was very pleasantly surprised that the that such a largely-budgeted summer blockbuster was able to create such a sense of isolation and, in certain sequences, dread.
Don't completely disagree. I saw it in the theater and thought it started fine but the ending was pretty terrible, completely missing the point of the story (and then twisting what the title means). The original ending that was included on video was better in that it at least was more in tune with the book's, turning around who the monster really was, but then it goes for a happier ending and still loses what the title means.

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jazzo
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#21 Post by jazzo » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:46 am

cdnchris wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:32 am
jazzo wrote:So, no fans of the Francis Lawrence version of I Am Legend? I've read a lot of Matheson, and after the tidal wave of criticism it received upon its release, I waited until DVD to watch the director's cut. And I have to admit, aside from some occasionally clunky CGI, I was very pleasantly surprised that the that such a largely-budgeted summer blockbuster was able to create such a sense of isolation and, in certain sequences, dread.
Don't completely disagree. I saw it in the theater and thought it started fine but the ending was pretty terrible, completely missing the point of the story (and then twisting what the title means). The original ending that was included on video was better in that it at least was more in tune with the book's, turning around who the monster really was, but then it goes for a happier ending and still loses what the title means.
True, and there have been plenty of films ruined for me by tonally contradictory endings, or the (often) studio/box office-driven need to end things on notes of hope, but for some reason, at least with the director's cut ending, this one didn't spoil all the good stuff that came before.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#22 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:46 am

I too thought that just like The Omega Man, the Will Smith version was OK for the first act while it establishes the post apocalyptic world and Neville's day to day survival. It goes off the rails once the plot kicks in and the ending is an insult to Matheson's novel.

I'm not someone to complain about CGI on principle but just like with the The Thing prequel, the studio decided to overrule the director on using practical effects and then they did a rush-job with the CGI and the creature effects looked terrible. It's a shame because the practical effects would have looked much better, they could still could have augmented them with CGI here and there. There are some tests of the practical effects here: https://io9.gizmodo.com/5793402/what-i- ... g-monsters

Unrelated, but one thing I love about The Omega Man is the very loungey Ron Grainer score, one of my favourite scores of the 70s.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#23 Post by Dr Amicus » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:26 am

As an aside, has anyone seen the Asylum produced I Am Omega? I'm assuming it's terrible and has even less to do with Matheson...

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Re: Richard Matheson on Film

#24 Post by Slaphappy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:46 pm

I Am Legend would make a great movie if it was given to someone like Alex Garland or Jonathan Glazer, but as a big star vehicle it is bound to fail.

I actually love the first half of Omega Man. Heston must have been so pumped for that role.

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