Wednesday, October 13, 2021 9:07 pm
To understand, from the spectacular, the genealogical field of the aesthetics of the apocalypse, one should begin with the analysis of the work of Richard Matheson. He is by no means the founder of apocalyptic cinema, but his crossed sensitivity for gothic art, vampirism, science fiction, terror and surrealism positions him, at least, as an exemplary case of the genre (and of the surrounding genres) . Matheson is the original creator of the narratives on which some recent movies about the apocalypse and its boundaries are based. In addition, his imagination extends, as in the cases of Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Stephen King, even to video games.
For his vision that links the market with the media imagination, Matheson is the antecedent of the iconic presence of an omnipresent Steven Spielberg in Hollywood, who made one of his first shoots for television, Challenge to death (1971), based on one of Matheson’s most acclaimed screenplays. The writer, a native of New Jersey, adapted, wrote and directed horror and science fiction films such as The fall of the Husher house (1960), The pendulum of death (1961) or Somewhere in time (1983), in addition to participating in the television series Alfred Hitchcock Time
and The unknown dimension.
From 1950 to 1970 much of the science fiction and terror on celluloid or nitrate screens was the direct result of Matheson’s harvest; or indirect, inspired by the fertile abundance of his creations. Still from a period of fruitful production is his own metaphor of the zombie: the living history of American fiction in the media, when science fiction is already something else he knew. But this modification is due, to a large extent, to his work.
Encouraged in his acquaintance with the work of Edgar Allan Poe, of which he made adaptations for television series, Matheson’s sensibilities utilized the Symbolist philosophy of the decadent author of The Raven to incorporate it into the postmodernity of the 21st century, by transferring it from the symbolic printed paper to the mediatization of its popular discourse. Poe would not have imagined that his creative darkness would turn into a sensorium to nostalgically stimulate the senses through technology, one of the purposes of apocalypse cinema. This purism, constructed by Matheson, is key to understanding the ability to create verisimilitude in the most disparate horror scenes, to give greater relevance to the central characteristics of this cinematographic work: the irruption of abnormality in reality, the everyday life of fear and paranoia, in addition to anguish in the face of the facts of life, essential characteristics of the wonderful and the fantastic.
Whenever the apocalypse theme (and all the semantics to which it belongs) is reactivated, when trying to update it, Matheson’s aesthetic is used as a reference, either to confirm or to deny the links. His last script, for the film The diabolical box (The box, 2009), directed by Richard Kelly and starring Cameron Diaz and Frank Langella, was vilified by critics and played at night for audiences. After his boom period during the seventies and eighties, it seems that specialists and the public despise the aesthetic power of this creator who still summons spirits in his stories and novels, classics of horror literature. But the pop imagery of Halloween will always have a lit candle for Richard Matheson.
Carlos Ramirez Come back