I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

It’s almost Halloween, so it’s the perfect time to revisit our favorite creepy classics.  I Am Legend was written in 1954 and set in (what was then) the futuristic Los Angeles of the 1970’s.  It has twice been adapted to film, first in 1964 starring Vincent Price as The Last Man on Earth, and again in 1971 as The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston.  It will soon be released for a third time with Will Smith taking the starring roll of Robert Neville, the only man left living in a world full of vampires.  Much of the book revolves around his struggle to secure his home against the nightly visits of the vampires.  Every day he makes repairs to his plywood covered windows and doors, strings fresh garlands of garlic around the house, and spends the afternoon making wooden stakes.  Every night the vampires arrive, throwing rocks and calling for Neville to come outside and join them.  Every day, when the vampires are sleeping, Neville moves around, driving stakes into the hearts of his former friends and neighbors, becoming legend in the minds of the vampires. 

The book is rather short, almost a short story really, but the atmosphere of loneliness, isolation and despair is almost palpable, and the terror that arrives every night when the sun sets is gripping.  Get a copy of I Am Legend and a copy of The Haunting of Hill House and you are set for Halloween. 

My rating: 

5 thoughts on “I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  1. What a great book. I read this one a year ago, and it has really stayed with me, not just because of the horrific situation that Neville finds himself in, but because of the plausibility of the event. It could happen . . . it could even be happening somewhere right now . . .

    . . . well, maybe not, but hey, you never know.

  2. Dragonnnnnnnn….oh Book Dragonnnnn…..(throws rock at her window)….come out and play! ;)…..’scuse me I think I have something caught in my fang…

  3. Shhh, I’m reading up on vampires and their strange lore so I can better arm myself to destroy them! I Am Legend was so good, it made me want more, so I checked out The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, edited by Alan Ryan. What a cool book! Did you know that Lord Byron even penned a brief vampire story entitled “Fragment of a Novel”? Oh, how I wish he could have completed it . . . Another favorite author of mine Tanith Lee, penned the lyrical “Bite-Me-Not or, Fleur De Feu,” which is included in this anthology.

    And if you loved I Am Legend, my ghoulish Booklove, you should know that even Richard Matheson has a vampire short story in this anthology entitled “Drink My Blood.” Matheson also penned one of my personal favorite horror stories “Born of Man and Woman,” which isn’t in this anthology, but should you ever come across the story, don’t pass up a chance to read it.

    I didn’t know that The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man were based on I Am Legend. Cool facts and now that I’ve read the book, I’m going to have to check those movies out again.

    By the way, Booklove, you’ve something green caught in your fang . . . going veggie on us?

  4. So I finally saw the new movie based on this book this weekend. All I can say is…..Bleh! If I didn’t know it was based on this book I would never have guessed it. Why give the movie the title I Am Legend and then make it almost unrecognizable? Loved the book. Hated the movie.

  5. I wish I knew why they did things like that. I haven’t even watched the movie, because of reviews that stated the movie and the story were so different. I believe it is rare when a good book or story translates perfectly to film. Even as good of a film as No Country for Old Men was, the movie was unable to adequately capture the nuance of McCarthy’s novel at the end. I’ll take the written word and make the movies in my head, thank you very much!

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