Friends, I come before you to discuss the vampire; a minority element if there ever was one, and there was one.
But to concision: I will sketch out the basis for my thesis, which thesis is this: Vampires are prejudiced against….
But are his needs any more shocking than the needs of other animals and men? Are his deeds more outrageous than the deeds of the parent who drained the spirit from his child? The vampire may foster quickened heartbeats and levitated hair. But is he worse than the parent who gave to society a neurotic child who became a politician? Is he worse than the manufacturer who set up belated foundations with the money he made by handing bombs and guns to suicidal nationalists? Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain juice to stultify further the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of a progressive thought? (Nay, I apologize for this calumny; I nip the brew that feeds me.) Is he worse, then, than the publisher who filled ubiquitous racks with lust and death wishes? Really, now, search your soul, lovie—is the vampire so bad?
All he does is drink blood.
Why, then, this unkind prejudice, this thoughtless bias? Why cannot the vampire live where he chooses? Why must he seek out hiding places where none can find him out? Why do you wish him destroyed? Ah, see, you have turned the poor guileless innocent into a haunted animal. He has no means of support, no measures for proper education, he has not the voting franchise. No wonder he is compelled to seek out a predatory nocturnal existence.
Robert Neville grunted a surly grunt. Sure, sure, he thought, but would you let your sister marry one?
He shrugged. You got me there, buddy, you got me there.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson is a master of the Horror genre. He was my favorite horror author before I even realized who he was. Most of you, even if you don’t know his name, have read or seen his work. For instance, do you remember Nightmare at 20,000 Feet? It was made into one of the most famous of the Twilight Zone episodes in 1963 that starred a very young William Shatner. In 1983, it was one of four stories included in Twilight Zone: The Movie and starred John Lithgow (who was acting under the name John Valentine). If you liked it – READ THE SHORT STORY! It is even better.
The quote above is from Matheson’s book I Am Legend. Again, if you have seen the movie but not read the book, take the opportunity to delve into its richness. There are MAJOR differences. Like:
- Neville isn’t a scientist
- The vampires know where he is from the beginning
- He doesn’t have a dog yet at the beginning
I feel comfortable giving that much away since you know it at the very beginning. Imagine now how that changes the story. Several movies have been based on I Am Legend. The Last Man on Earth was made in 1964, The Omega Man came out in 1971, and Will Smith starred in I Am Legend in 2007. However, Matheson felt that the movie that most closely represented the spirit of I Am Legend was Night of the Living Dead (1968). The twist is that it wasn’t based on his book – at least not intentionally.
Here is a list of some of his works for your enjoyment:
|Backteria||A Stir of Echoes|
|Dress of White Silk||Duel (with Ray Bradbury)|
|Getting Together||Fury on Sunday|
|The Splendid Source||I am Legend|
|To Fit the Crime||Journal of the Gun Years|
|Nightmare at 20,000 Feet||Other Kingdoms|
|Ride the Nightmare|
|Shadow on the Sun|
|Someone Is Bleeding|
|Somewhere in Time|
|The Incredible Shrinking Man|
|What Dreams May Come|
Matheson doesn’t leave me grossed out because of the gore – that isn’t his magic. He leaves me breathless and shocked and thinking. What more can you possibly ask? Stephen King lists Richard Matheson as one of his favorite authors. After reading his work, it is easy to see why.
I tried to get an interview with Mr. Matheson but he is now 87 and working on a project. I received a very nice note from his agent stating that he just isn’t up to an interview. I certainly wish him the very best and hope he keeps producing masterly works for us to enjoy for many years yet.
Please visit the below link for more information on this treasure of the Horror Genre.