Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories by Richard Matheson
by Richard Matheson

This is a marvelous collection of 20 short horror stories by a master of the form. Fans of this genre will recognize the title piece as the story about an airline passenger having a psychotic breakdown as he sees a bizarre creature ripping apart the wing of plane he's flying on. That was turned into a 1963 episode of the classic Twilight Zone TV series, starring William Shatner, and was later included in the Twilight Zone: The Movie, which starred John Lithgow in the same role. For me, that story is arguably the best in the collection, but there are many others here worth recommending. Matheson does a great job of finding horror in the ordinary. His protagonists are typical "everymen". The settings are not gothic and spooky, but rather are the house next door, or your typical office complex. Of the stories in this collection, I would highly recommend "Mad House", "Legion of Plotters", "The Children of Noah", and "First Anniversary". The final story, "Prey" will also be recognizable to long-time TV and horror fans -- it was the basis one of the tales included in 1975's Trilogy of Terror, in which a Zuni doll comes to life and terrorizes Karen Black in her apartment. Note: Oddly, although the back cover of this book says the collection includes the story "Duel", which was turned into a creepy TV-movie starring Dennis Weaver and a semi, and ws the first feature film directed by Steven Spielberg, that story does NOT actually appear in the collection! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much anything else by Richard Matheson, including: I Am Legend, Richard Matheson's Off-Beat Uncollected Stories, Hell House, and Hunted Past Reason.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Wikipedia page for Rickard Matheson ]

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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