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back to article Sci-fi and horror scribe Richard Matheson: He is Legend

Acclaimed science fiction and horror writer Richard Matheson, who will perhaps be best remembered for his novel I Am Legend, has died at the age of 87. Matheson was also the man behind some of the classic Twilight Zone television episodes, including 1963's Nightmare at 20,000 Feet starring a fresh-faced William Shatner. …

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Silver badge

It should go without saying...

... that the film I Am Legend (with Will Smith) is to the book what the film I, Robot (with, er, Will Smith) is to Isaac Asimov's novella.

Fercrysaaeks, the whole part of the book in which the phrase 'I Am Legend' is uttered is absent from the movie.

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Unhappy

Re: It should go without saying...

I've never seen the Will Smith "I am Legend" film for that very reason - I went to see "I, Robot" and was upset by it.

RIP to another great Sci- Fi author man.

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Re: It should go without saying...

So it's just like World War Z then. I don't think there are any recent films that are remotely like the books, other than Harry Potter.

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The novel's pretty hard to adapt without bombing

The only version to mostly stick to the book is Vincent Price's "Last Man on Earth". But including the part of the book where that phrase is used means you get a bad ending (for humans, that is) and that just won't go well. Ironically, there's an alternate ending for the Will Smith adaptation where the phrase's meaning is preserved in context, but it was cut out.

But really, a movie where the "monsters" end up "winning" isn't going to fly.

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Bronze badge

The novel's pretty hard to adapt without bombing

The Omega Man isn't really true to the text. but it's a damned good movie, unlike the Smith vehicle.

Hadn't heard of the Price take before, really want to see it.

... and nothing tops Nightmare at 20,000 ft for pure paranoia on the tube.

Vale Mr Matheson, your nightmares remain beloved in our hearts.

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Windows

Books and films are different things, get over it.

So what if it has the same title and basic story line and characters? They're different things and shouldn't be thought of as related. If you're irrationally fond of a specific book, for pete's sake don't go watch a movie version as you'll be disappointed.

Look at the three Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies: very different films, same story, same characters. Director = Author... Why would you expect another author to write the same book?

Try to just give it another title in your head and you might be fine (I might like Peter Jackson's ongoing "Little Man" trilogy; though I'm not risking to find out).

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Unhappy

Re: It should go without saying...

"So it's just like World War Z then. I don't think there are any recent films that are remotely like the books, other than Harry Potter."

And they still threw a hell of a lot out.

Still great cinema, but reading the books changes your view a lot.

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Re: The novel's pretty hard to adapt without bombing

"Hadn't heard of the Price take before, really want to see it."

This adaptation of the book can be found on archive.org. Look for The Last Man on Earth (1964).

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Happy

Re: Or.....

Just watch it:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drMczeQYIBg

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Pint

Re: The novel's pretty hard to adapt without bombing

Thank you, and the other commentards who posted re. Last Man, look forward to seeing it.

I also avoided the Smith vehicle, a short at the theatre and a snippet on TV put me right off.

Re. Bodysnatchers (comparable because originally publshed in a similar form to Legend, presented as mainstream not SciFi and all, also three celluloid takes), who can argue that the original is not the best? The '70s one is alright, love Carpenter at times  (They Live!), but his Bodysnatchers was so disappointing (as was his Midwich Cuckoos).

Have to wait 'til I watch The Last Man before I can judge if the trajectories were similar, but I rate the Omega Man pretty highly as a film and a take on Legend.

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Gold badge
Pint

I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Duel, and for lovers of "Blade"

I think he coined the term "Daywalker" into the language. I'd call that a pretty good record.

I've read parts of the novel and know the context of the original title.

Like "The Cold Equations" it make uncomfortable reading. I found it sort of amazing that he was involved in all three adaptations. IIRC The Incredible Shrinking was was my first experience of a film with an unhappy ending. It had quite an effect on my pre-teen mind.

I'd like to see the Vincent Price version. He rarely got to play action heroes. I didn't know it even existed before I looked the Will Smith version on IMDB.

So fare well. I'll be raising a glass to you, Probably somewhere sunny, with my back against a solid wall.

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Good story

I am Legend is a "nice" little story, but they should have kept the ending in the Will Smith film. I think they missed the essential premise, if the rest of the population are vampires then the human is the monstrous outsider. You could argue then that in the film the monsters win...

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Anonymous Coward

I guess now he's finding out how accurate his idea of the afterlife in What Dreams May Come was.

Now there's a film nothing like the book...

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Devil

How accurate his idea of the afterlife?

> I guess now he's finding out how accurate his idea of the afterlife in What Dreams May Come was.

Well one day you can ask him yourself, in person ...

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Megaphone

Junk metal in the air.

It's a total nightmare...at 20,000 feet.

He also inspired some great music. Megaphone for reasons that would be obvious to anyone who knows what I'm talking about.

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Pint

A Deep Well

It's rather a shame that, given his prodigious body of work, the only thing that's going to be mentioned beyond a nod and a wink is I Am Legend.

Ah, I remember the summer of 1990, Vancouver, on a mission to locate a copy of said novella (it is on the short side). Not in print at the time, no copies to be found among the plethora of used and antiquarian dealers in the GVRD, but... the library system had a single, somewhat dog-eared, hard bound first edition on regular loan and (and!) it was located at the closest branch to my house (Fraser Street). Of course it was "in". I borrowed it, read it, enjoyed it, appreciated the differences with the Price film and the Hollywood "adaptation" that was Omega Man, and returned it. Three years later I went back to re-read it but it had disappeared. Swiped. Of course. These days I suppose they're abundant, but the thrill is gone.

Oh, and The Last Man on Earth (Price) is in the Public Domain. So you can legally acquire it via those means usually reserved for the acquisition of that which is illegally obtained, if you take my meaning. Also, the Internet Archive have a not so good print for download.

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