Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2013

Richard Matheson: The passing of a Master

Hey all,
I didn't get around to posting this earlier this week,  here's my piece on Mr. Richard Matheson.

          Photo source: The Examiner

The passing of a Master
Richard Matheson passed away 2 days ago on the 23rd of June 2013. He was 87 years old.
This is pretty much the end of an era when you consider that he was one of the last living writers to have contributed to Weird Tales Magazine during it’s original incarnation. Mr. Matheson’s first published story was “Born of Man and woman” which was originally published in the July 1950 issue of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”. This would be 63 years ago next month. During the ensuing 63 years Mr. Matheson published 28 novels, the last of which, “Generations appeared in 2012. 21 collections of is short stories have also been published over that last 6 decades! If this literary legacy wasn’t awesome enough, he also wrote 22 screen plays during this time. Many of which were based upon his own novels and short stories. Many of these films have reached legendary status such as Duel, The Incredible Shrinking Man, I am Legend (filmed 4 times), The Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe classics; House of Usher and, The Raven , The Night Stalker and Trilogy of Terror. Who can ever forget the Zuni Fetish doll chasing Karen black around that apartment or Bill Shatner freaking out on that airplane as it gets taken apart by that gremlin directly outside his window seat? I was once asked to describe Mr. Matheson’s stories and I simply (if not completely accurate) said “Ray Bradbury with Teeth”. Mr. Matheson’s stories mostly dealt with horror in modern suburban settings. Very bad things happened in this universe to those who mostly didn’t deserve it. For a younger TV audience I’d say that you could sum up lots of his work as “Mad Men meets Hell Raiser”
Many of his stories were very hard going for me a youngster. Not because of his straight forward and unadorned writing style, but for the world he presented. It was a world of suburban families, modernity, station wagons and barbeque parties where just beneath the surface or around the next corner lay both natural and supernatural horrors. These stories were dead(ly) serious with no easy resolutions or happy endings. This isn’t to say that Mr. Matheson didn’t have a wicked sense of humor. You just had to look at his screen plays to see how funny he could be. Just take a look at “The Night Stalker”, “The Raven” or “Comedy of Terrors”. These are genuinely funny films of the blackest sort of humor.
Even if he is unknown to non-genre fans, Mr. Matheson’s work has become so iconic and culturally all persuasive that he has even been copied on the Simpson’s for one of the Halloween shows. That has to be the final proof that you have left your mark on our culture.
It’s genuine proof of Mr. Matheson’s talent and vision that even stories, novels and screen plays that he produced in the middle of the last century still maintain an edge and a relevancy that speaks to readers today in the second decade of the 21st century. Don’t forget that many of his most famous works were produced during the age of Eisenhower and they are just as powerful today as they were then. That to me, is a genuine timelessness that few other authors can match.

God bless you and thank you Mr. Matheson. Where ever you are.

You have enriched my life, greatly entertained me and lastly; you’ve scared the shit out of many a time.

I drink to your shade and celebrate your memory.

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