Thursday, July 8, 2010
I AM LEGEND RICHARD MATHESON
I AM LEGEND. Richard Matheson. 1954.
Richard Matheson's famous fifties horror novel I Am Legend has been made into a movie three times: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price; The Omega Man with Charlton Heston; and I Am Legend with Will Smith. 56 years after its publication the novel still has power and fascination in its story of a man, Robert Neville, who seems to be the last human alive on Earth after a plague of vampirism has turned everyone else into blood-drinkers. Some of these creatures, who gather outside Neville's house/stronghold at night, are still human, but infected, while others have crossed all the way over. Matheson offers a scientific explanation for vampirism instead of a supernatural one, and explains how garlic and crosses affect vampires [the latter due to their own superstitions/religiosity]. While things do get a bit confusing as to the differences between infected humans and true vampires, I Am Legend is extremely well-written and you do get caught up in Neville's struggle against loneliness and for survival. He can't really search for other humans because he always has to return to his stronghold at night. There are many exciting and chilling scenes, as well as ironic developments. In addition to the three movies made from the novel, it also influenced many other films, books, and comics, and certainly had a hand in inspiring Night of the Living Dead, not to mention the much more recent Daybreakers.
Verdict: Excellent classic horror tale. ***1/2