Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND is a remarkable book. Do a straw poll of a hundred horror authors and ask them to name the single piece of fiction which most influenced them, and I’ll wager that a good number will cite I AM LEGEND. It’s not just authors – the same is probably true of film-makers too. You can’t read the book without having scenes from George Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD play out in your head.
There’s no question, therefore, that this is an hugely influential novel, and the fact it’s been filmed on no less than three occasions is further proof of that. Interestingly, though, it’s also a remarkably slight book, coming in at less than 200 pages. So how does Matheson cram so much into so little? I decided to try and find out. There will unavoidably be spoilers ahead.
As I type I’ve literally just finished re-reading the book for the umpteenth time. I thought it would be interesting to give you my thoughts on the novel and then, over the next few weeks, to look at each of the film adaptations in turn (and if you’re not aware of the movies, they are as follows: LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE OMEGA MAN and I AM LEGEND).
I’m sure you know the basic plot by now but, just in case, here’s the back cover blurb: Robert Neville may well be the only survivor of an incurable plague that has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.
By day, he scavenges for food and supplies, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But all the while the infected lurk in the shadows, watching his every move, waiting for him to make a mistake…
You might remember me waxing lyrical about a superb indie zombie film from a couple of years back called THE BATTERY. It was an excellent example of how low budgets and limited resources are no obstacle to success if you’ve got a strong vision and are dedicated to your project. THE BATTERY was an extremely original movie, and it looks like the film-makers’ next release – TEX MONTANA WILL SURVIVE! – is going to be equally inventive.
By the way, I’ve been beavering away behind the scenes here, and I missed an anniversary. It’s five years last month since Thomas Dunne Books released AUTUMN. The picture above was taken by me in Barnes & Noble on E 17th Street, New York, on the day of release back in 2010. I still find it hard to believe that my little zombie story – which started out as a free pdf I used to email to folks in the pre-ebook days of the turn of the century – turned into such a monster. Five novels, a short story collection, a movie, a radio adaptation… there’s clearly still a lot of love for the undead.
Back in January I wrote a piece about 28 DAYS LATER. The film went down reasonably well with my kids and we soon settled down together to watch the sequel, 2007’s 28 WEEKS LATER.
Interestingly, if you look back at my earlier piece, you’ll see that I enjoyed 28DL more than I had previously. I felt like it had improved with age. 28WL had the opposite effect, however, and I didn’t warm to it as I had the earlier film. As always, a synopsis and trailer follows, and my thoughts are after the jump.
Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.
As a responsible father, I think it’s important to ensure my kids have a solid all round education. As such, I see it as my duty to introduce them to cultural milestones. Last night I did just that (I am being sarcastic here, by the way), sitting down with the girls for a family viewing of Danny Boyle‘s seminal 28 DAYS LATER. It had been many years since I’d seen the film, and I was interested to see how it stood up today: what was considered ground-breaking in 2002 might have appeared cliched today. To my surprise, I think I enjoyed the movie more than I ever have done.
A quick glance at my Recommendations page revealed that I’ve never written about this hugely influential movie for this site, so I thought I’d remedy that right now. As usual, a brief synopsis and trailer follows. Click on the link for my thoughts.
An infirmary patient awakens from a coma to an empty room…in a vacant hospital…in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland. Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come…
Joe is anything but an ordinary eight year old. His father’s a stay-at-home dad and his mom’s going to save the world.
Forced to live in cramped quarters after the military pull funding on his mother’s research, Joe is thrown into the midst of a race against the clock to save mankind. As tensions rise and the family disintegrates, they must face an uncomfortable ultimatum.
Do they save each other or humanity?
We’ll be following up this release early in 2015 with a unique LIVE This is Horror podcast. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer on air, please email them to Michael@thisishorror.co.uk.
Finally, as this will probably be my last post here for a while, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and enthusiasm over the past year, and to wish you and your families all the best for the holiday season.
I’m excited to announce the release of a free JOE & ME audiobook. A joint production between This is Horror and Infected Books, and narrated by yours truly, it’ll be free to download from 2pm GMT on Tuesday 23 December. Happy Christmas!
JOE & ME is a story I’m extremely proud of. It’s a great little tale that offers a very personal glimpse into the early hours of the world-wide chaos which unfolds throughout the AUTUMN series. I’ll tell you more about it on Tuesday…