Final week, I wrote a chunk on The Incredible Shrinking Man, which was primarily based on a e book by Richard Matheson. Apart from writing The Shrinking Man, Matheson wrote such different notable books as I Am Legend, A Stir of Echoes, Hell Home, and What Desires Could Come. He additionally wrote prolifically for motion pictures and tv. He wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Evening Gallery, Star Trek, and TV movies like The Evening Stalker and Trilogy of Terror (who can ever neglect Karen Black battling an African Satan doll?). Matheson additionally wrote movie scripts. Listed here are ten horror films that he penned.
1. The Home Of Usher (1960)
After Hammer Movies had had success by revitalizing the Gothic horror of Common’s early years, Roger Corman noticed a chance to use one other public area property in a similar way: the brief tales of Edgar Allen Poe. Employed on the power of his novel I Am Legend and his adaptation of his personal work, The Unbelievable Shrinking Man, Richard Matheson was the right match for this sort of film: a extra literary tackle the B-movies that given Corman and AIP their good names.
Home Of Usher follows Philip Winthrop, as a consequence of marry Madeline Usher — or he could be, if her tortured, demented brother Roderick (Vincent Value) wasn’t so obsessive about ending the household’s darkish lineage. These acquainted with the Poe story will know that this entails untimely burial, madness and, in the end, whole collapse. However Matheson provides his personal contact to the story as effectively, by giving Roderick Usher a particular nervous illness: his senses are so acute that something above a whisper drives him into hysterics. It is this similar nervous illness which plagues Madeline and which is able to drive Roderick to do evil, inhuman issues.
That includes one of many nice Vincent Value performances, Home Of Usher has been acknowledged as a traditional by the Nationwide Movie Registry, which chosen it for preservation, and continues to be one of the vital influential, startling and engaging motion pictures in the entire AIP canon. It is also the right pl
ace to start out with Matheson’s screenplays, showcasing his tendency in direction of tight, small-scale tales with easy plots and large surprises. However the perfect is but to come back.
2. The Pit And The Pendulum (1961)
Something value doing is value doing twice. Home Of Usher was so successful — in some methods, surprisingly so — that Corman and AIP elected to do it once more, with a brand new Poe story, however bringing again Vincent Value and Richard Matheson. And positive, a lot of the film is a retread of the primary one, however The Pit And The Pendulum is extra thrilling, extra gothic, and options a fully unhinged efficiency by Vincent Value. It is the perfection of the formulation.
The plot, you will discover, is mainly the identical. A younger man involves Vincent Value’s mansion on the lookout for a girl, solely to search out Value nonetheless reeling from the consequences of his familial sin. Like Usher, too, the Poe story varieties the premise of the film’s third act, if little else. However what Matheson does is fill the remaining hour up with tonnes of drama, intrigue and thriller, because the younger man uncovers the macabre household secrets and techniques that result in surprising twists and turns and a climax unforgettable in its deviltry.
These two motion pictures type the start of what would change into one of the vital legendary cycles in movie historical past. Matheson would later workforce with Value and Corman once more for Tales Of Terror and The Raven, however the first two are the undisputed classics, completely excellent of their mixture of excessive camp and Gothic lunacy. By no means was there a greater argument for Matheson’s inclusion on the Mount Rushmore of nice writers.
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