Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN: A History of the Filmed Works. Matthew R. Bradley. Foreword by Richard Matheson. McFarland; 2010.

While perhaps not a household name like Stephen King [whom he influenced], Matheson has secured a reputation among genre fans for his works "The Shrinking Man" [filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man], "I Am Legend" [three disappointing film versions so far], "Hell House" [filmed as The Legend of Hell House], among others, including numerous short stories, and his screenplays for The Night Stalker, Roger Corman's Poe adaptations such as Pit and the Pendulum, and other horror-fantasy works. Matheson's non-genre contributions include The Morning After telefilm, with Dick Van Dyke as an alcoholic, and De Sade starring Keir Dullea. Like King, Matheson's first prominent novel became a highly popular film, and there has been a synergistic relationship between his film and literary work ever since. Bradly looks not only at the films whose screenplays were written by Matheson, but also at the film adaptations of his work that were written by himself and others. His book is bolstered by interviews with and comments from Matheson himself and others who worked on the films. In addition to being an excellent reference source, Richard Matheson on Film creates an interest in many of Matheson's print and film works, and also serves to illustrate the often maddening twists and turns that occur during the knotty path from book to movie, as well as the disasters that often result when one person's vision doesn't jell with another's. Ironically, one Matheson movie [which he scripted from his novel "Bid Time Return."] that has become a cult item is Somewhere in Time, probably because of John Barry's evocative score, as Jeannot Szwarc's direction is mediocre at best. Even if you're not as enthusiastic about Matheson's work as Bradley is -- and he doesn't rave about everything -- you''ll find this book a good, entertaining and noteworthy film study. Illustrated.

Verdict: Exhaustive and informative. ***1/2. 


Matthew Bradley said...

Bill, just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the kind review, especially coming from one who has written as many books devoted to genre films as you have!

Also enjoyed perusing some of your recent posts. I introduced my daughter to THE CHINA SYNDROME a few weeks ago, and thought it held up pretty well. DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is one of my all-time favorite Hammers, but you're right that PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES left something to be desired (e.g., star power or a better director). I was never a big fan of Gilling's work. We'll have to agree to disagree on THE WHIP AND THE BODY, which I consider one of Bava's best works. Keep 'em coming!

William said...

Thanks, Matthew. It was my pleasure to read and review such an excellent book! As for Bava, he seems to inspire a lot of differing opinions among genre fans .. one of these days I'll have to take another look at Baron Blood and Hatchet for the Honeymoon! Best, Bill