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The Legacy of Richard Matheson’s ‘I Am Legend’

Date/Time
Date(s) - Thu. Mar. 15, 2018
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Location
The Horse Hospital

Instructor
Stacey Abbott

Admission
£10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs (students/seniors with ID) |

Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend (1954) is a recognized classic of  science fiction and horror. It has been adapted many times in films such as  The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007). In 1958, Matheson wrote a script adapting  the novel for Hammer Studios, but it was never filmed. The script was rejected by both the MPAA and the BBFC. In 1968, George Romero directed Night of the Living Dead, a film he admitted was inspired by Matheson’s novel, and this was the film that Matheson felt was most faithful to the themes of his book.

Through an analysis of a selection of official and unofficial adaptations of the novel, including Matheson’s own script, this lecture by Stacey Abbott considers how this text marks a key transformative moment within the evolution of the horror genre on film. It will consider how the novel reimagined the vampire film through the lens of science fiction and how Matheson’s adaptation for Hammer offered a new, more brutal and modern approach to horror than the studio’s Gothic adaptations of The Cure of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). Abbott will discuss how the script confounded the censors in its approach to horror, signaling a cultural resistance to the modernization of the genre and a growing tension between filmmakers and arbiters of cinematic taste.  Finally, in this lecture Abbott will demonstrate not only how I Am Legend influenced Romero’s work, representing a key bridge between classic and new horror, but also continues to influence twenty-first century filmmakers, particularly in the development of the vampire and zombie genres.

 

MISKATONIC LONDON “I AM LEGEND” TRAILER March 2018 from Miskatonic Institute on Vimeo.

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