Saturday, May 7, 2016


The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Incredible Shrinking Man is the story of a man named Scott Carey who is exposed to an unknown force and begins to slowly get smaller.  This film could have easily  fallen into the category of one of those 50's science fiction movies that is remembered more as camp, such as Attack of the 50 foot Woman or The Amazing Colossal Man, but always manages to rise above that level.

I love the special effects for this film. I mean this in the fact that there really was not much of a budget for special effects and the filmmakers had to get creative in making oversize household items or shrinking clothes or a giant book of matches or putting Scott in his daughter's dollhouse to be terrorized by the family cat! And don't get me started on that spider! This movie also was clearly an inspiration for one of the favorite shows of my childhood, Land of the Giants.

The Incredible Shrinking Man is based on a story by Richard Matheson. Matheson is one of my favorite writers, not only of science fiction stories, but other genres as well. His story collection Steel and other Stories is a fine short story collection, and reminiscent of Stephen King, who credits Matheson as being a major influence. I also enjoyed one of Matheson's last books, The Legend of the Gun, which was a straight up Western!

I looked up Matheson's IMDB writing resume, and it was impressive in how wide ranging it was. His credits are two numerous to mention, but I did go back and look at his Twilight Zone episode of Steel. (His most famous TZ is probably Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.) An altered version of the Steel story was made into the big budget movie Real Steel with Hugh Jackman.

The Twilight Zone: Lee Marvin in Steel

I also wanted to see Matheson's Duel, a  1971 TV movie about a man driving home that is terrorized by a truck (and presumably a driver) that relentlessly chases him down. Duel may be best remembered as the feature length debut of Stephen Spielberg. Glad I finally got around to seeing it! It's got lots of drama and action and has the fine Matheson story that Spielberg uses as a blueprint for what I think should still be in the director's top ten.

Dennis Weaver in Duel

I Am Legend is another famous Matheson book about dealing with vampires, zombies, the Apocalypse and the last man on earth. Despite the way it sounds, it's a largely introspective piece that if followed doesn't seem to lend itself to cinematic interpretation. But it has been brought to the screen several times. I have a friend that I asked about it and said he said they've made movies based on this book five times, none of them any good! The version I saw was the relatively recent one with Will Smith. I liked the movie okay and Smith is good, but I found myself wondering if the filmmakers had even read the book at all!

Will Smith and friend in I Am Legend

I finished my Mathesonfest with another TV movie from the early 70's, Trilogy of Terror, something I hadn't seen if forty years! The three Matheson stories all starring Karen Black are of varying quality, with the most famous of the trio having Black terrorized by a Zuni warrior doll. Many who saw this segment had nightmare about it for years to come.

That scary Zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror


  1. It is funny that you should post a review of the incredible shrinking man just minutes after I posted my review of this movie. It is a surprisingly good movie with visual effects impressive for its time and, yes, it rises far above the average sci-fi of the age.
    I liked I Am Legend as a movie, but I have no idea how it relates to the book.

  2. I think I would have liked I Am Legend the movie more if I hadn't just listened to the audiobook and realized the obvious differences (setting not in New York City, female character being very different, embellished zombie-like creatures, etc. ). Reading a book before you see a film can be a good thing-but not always.

  3. Mattheson wrote some truly great stuff, and unlike some very heady sci-fi authors, his stuff is really accessible and easy to follow. I need to catch up with Trilogy of Terror and it's been too long since I've seen Duel.

    Not one of the three adaptations of I am Legend has gotten the ending right. I honestly don't know why. For my money, The Omega Man is the best of them.

  4. Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth were two adaptations of I Am Legend that I haven't seen yet but plan to get back to.