It feels like I’ve been seeing movies scripted by – and/or adapted from books or stories written by – Richard Matheson all my life. Maybe because, well, I have. But that isn’t the only reason I find it difficult to imagine a world without him. While I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends, I strongly suspect that his death this week at age 87 will do little or nothing to end the ongoing flood of films and TV dramas that others adapt from his works.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (script and novel) and his oft-filmed novel I Am Legend arguably are his best-known works, followed by his classic teleplays for The Twilight Zone (including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” later recycled in Twilight Zone: The Movie) and Star Trek. But mention also must be made of his enduringly influential script for Steven Spielberg’s Duel, the lean and mean 1971 TV-movie (based on Matheson’s own story) that impacts you as simply and efficiently as a blunt instrument.