Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson's classic novel from 1954 that combines the horror & science fiction genres, I Am Legend , has been adapted for the third time by filmmakers. The new IAL, starring Will Smith, comes out next week. The production made news earlier this year with tales of it's on-location shooting in New York City.

Previously adapted for film in 1964 (the Italian black & white Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price), and again, in Hollywood, seven years later (The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, this time in color), IAL is basically the horrifying saga of Robert Neville, a man who survives a world wide plague that tranforms survivors (if you can call them that) into blood sucking vampires who come out only at night. (Matheson gives a reasonably convincing pseudo-scientific explaination for this.) Neville spends his days hunting down the creatures' resting spaces to destroy them and his nights barricading himselve from their attacks on his home. Then one day... But that would be telling.

I have no idea if the new film will improve upon the previous movie versions, but even if it doesn't, at least new audiences (as well as those who remenber Matheson's work on movies like Duel and the original Twilight Zone tv series) will be exposed to a timeless thriller classic that's guranteed to keep you up nights. Check it out if you get a chance. (In addition to several copies of the novel, the library also carries the '64 movie version as part of the public domain "Horror Classics" DVD set.)

A few years back, I had recommended the book for members of the now-defunct library Science Fiction Book Club. It's nice to feel ahead of the pack on this. -Ed

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