My next piece of work, or at least the piece I am working on at the moment is a non-fiction piece called ‘A Brief History of Horror’. Some time ago I offered in a letter an excerpt from Part 1 of the book ‘The Carpathian & Adam’ about the success of the characters of Dracula and Frankenstein’s Creature. So here as brief excerpt from Part 3: The End of the World.
A common trope used by horror writers and movie makers is that of Isolation. As the reader or the viewer we would find ourselves being introduced a group of people and then made to follow the terror of an individual who has been Isolated from the group.
The ultimate isolation trope could be seen in the realm of Apocalyptic Fiction, that of ‘The Last Man’. One of the most adapted stories is the 1954 Richard Matheson penned I Am Legend which follows the character of Doctor Robert Neville seemingly the lone survivor of an apocalyptic virus. He is not the last survivor but the man who is left behind in the city to find a cure.
The most well known adaptation was 2007’s I AM LEGEND (imdb) starring Will Smith but this was far from being the first. For the first movie adaptation of the book we need to go back to 1964 and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (imdb) starring Horror Legend Vincent Price, before 1971’s THE OMEGA MAN (imdb) starring Charlton Heston, which perhaps due to it being more focused on the SciFi elements rather than the Horror often is not recognized as an adaptation of Matheson’s novel.
One of the earliest uses of ‘The Last Man’ trope was in a novel by a little known author named M. P. Shiel in a book called ‘The Purple Cloud’ published in 1901. The Purple Cloud follows the journey of Adam Jeffson, Shiel chose the name Adam specifically as almost a book end, with Adam being the 1st Man and now in the book, Adam being the Last Man.
Adam Jeffson is an Arctic Explorer, on returning to England from an Expedition he discovers that there has been a mass influx of refugees fleeing from under a spreading poisonous Purple Cloud. But despite these refugees having made it to England the cloud had followed them and Adam finds them all dead.
Left alone in the world Adam goes made and starts a journey around the world visiting cities such as Paris, Bordeaux, London and New York and burning the cities. He declares himself King of the World and attempts to reach the site of Constantinople and build himself a golden temple. In Constantinople he discover a naked twenty-one year old girl, his very own Eve.
In 1959 there was a film adaptation named The World, the Flesh and the Devil starring singer Harry Belafonte, whose powerful baritone voice is perfect booming out from rooftops over empty cities crying out asking ‘Hello, is there anybody there?!’.
Well there you go a small taster of what is to come hopefully soon.