Remembering the greats who’ve contributed to the horror and sci-fi genre.
R.I.P. Richard Matheson
Without Richard Matheson, there would be no “There’s a creature out on the wing of the plane!” Without Richard Matheson, there would be no X-Files. Without Richard Matheson there would be no Night of the Living Dead and that means there might not be this entire zombie apocalypse culture that we enjoy as horror fans today.
“I Am Legend,” is a simple idea with a nifty twist. If you’ve never read it, I’m kind of spoiling it here (and please do not judge it based on its film adaptations—“The Last Man on Earth” is the best of them but “Omega Man” and Will Smith’s “I Am Legend” stray far from the source). Go out and get it. It’s the tale of a world overrun with the undead—not flesh eating zombies but rather, vampires. The vampires are not the gothic, Dracula types that had come before, they were your friends and neighbors. They’d lost a lot of what made them who they’d been and were sort of sluggish and dumb. Matheson took the idea that, the way vampires multiply, they could eventually overtake the world. He goes on to wonder, what if you were a lone survivor, maybe THE lone survivor, of this scenario. How would you spend your days and your terrifying nights? How would you avoid the creatures that surrounded you? It was the first really modern look at vampires and updated the creatures accordingly, blending science with folklore. There was still the sexual undertones, the females positioning their bodies outside Neville’s door to try and lure him out…Neville, getting an erotic thrill from dispatching the female monsters…it retained much of the classic trappings; garlic, crosses, daylight—and turned them on their heads. He followed the idea to its only logical conclusion, not… Continue reading
I’m not going to go into all the wiki of Ray’s life. It’s all there if you want to look up the who’s, when’s and how’s of his life and I encourage you to do so. Instead, I’m just going to tell you what he meant to me. As an impressionable young weirdo, nothing was more interesting or important to me than monsters. Especially big, giant marauding beasts and dinosaurs. And like many of you, I spent many a Saturday afternoon in front of the TV watching old monster movies. The man who made the best monsters for those movies was Ray Harryhausen. I saw the “Sinbad” movies he worked on as well as “Octopus” and “20 Million Miles to Earth” but it was “The Valley of Gwanji”, a movie that combined two things I loved–cowboys and dinosaurs–that really fired my imagination and kept me grinning from ear to ear. I didn’t need great acting or even much of a story, so long as a movie had monsters that convinced me and Ray’s always did. In fact, I can go from watching “Jurassic Park” and “Lord of the Rings” to watching “Valley of Gwanji” and Ray’s monsters still convince me.
Many of you are familiar with stop motion animation, I’m sure, but for those who might not be I want to give you an idea of what he did. In a typical movie there are between 24 and 30 Frames for every second of film shot. That’s at least 24 little adjustments Ray Harryhausen had to make just to create one second of action. Now think about something like the scene… Continue reading