Genre film lost one of its most influential forces last week when author and screenwriter Richard Matheson passed away. Whether writing originally for the screen, as with the STAR TREK episode, “The Enemy Within,” adapting his own work, which he did for such classic TWILIGHT ZONE episodes as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the archetypal 50’s horror film THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, or adapting others, including bringing Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife to the screen as BURN WITCH BURN (a.k.a. NIGHT OF THE EAGLE), Matheson was able to embue his scripts with a contemporary outlook and an incisive inquest into the human condition that helped define genre film for the latter half of the twentieth century, and on into the twenty-first.
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons sit down to discuss Matheson’s contribution to the world of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, weigh his overall influence on popular cinema, and discuss favorite examples of his work. Also in this show: Steve and Dan discuss the recent limited releases BYZANTIUM and 100 BLOODY ACRES. Plus: What’s coming to theaters next week.
Tricky situation this week: Two genre releases, but one, while good, is getting a very limited release to start; the other, while making it to more venues, doesn’t quite merit the attention. So we’re dipping into our 50th Anniversary archives to bring out a goody from 1962: BURN, WITCH, BURN (a.k.a. NIGHT OF THE EAGLE). The tale of college professor who comes to grief when he insists his wife quit employing supernatural forces to help him advance his career, the film boasts a script by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson — based on Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife — some impressive performances (particularly by Janet Blair as the conjuring spouse), an overall handsome production, and, in the American release, a Paul Frees-voiced prologue that has to be heard to be believed.
This week’s main topic was proposed by Cinefantastique Online managing editor Steve Biodrowski and he joins Lawrence French and Dan Persons to discuss what works and what’s just a little silly in this little-known but very satisfying exercise in modern-day horror. Then Steve weighs in on the week’s (semi-)major release, the claustrophobic thriller ATM, and Dan gives his opinion on Morgan Spurlock’s elaborate documentary, COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE.