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Book Title: A Casa Infernal|
The author of the book: Richard Matheson
Edition: Editora Novo Século
Date of issue: 2009
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 959 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.3
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For years I have been a fan of Richard Matheson, without ever becoming a dedicated reader of his fiction. I learned early that he was one of the two best writers (not counting Rod Serling) for Twilight Zone—the other being Charles Beaumont—and this led me to look out for his short stories and novels and read them when they came my way. I particularly admired his chilling stories “Nightmare at 20,000 ft.” (Twilight Zone Shatner menaced by gremlin on plane), “Prey” (featuring a doll called “He Who Kills”), and the novels I am Legend and A Stir of Echoes, the first a tale of apocalyptic terror and the second a contemporary suburban ghost story. I also began to realize that Matheson was our finest writer of horror screenplays in the '60's: the best of the Corman Poe series, each of them different in tone (an atmospheric Usher, a Jacobean Pit and Pendulum, a sweetly comic Raven) and my two favorite Hammer films (Die! Die! My Darling! and The Devil Rides Out.)
So I was surprised to find that Hell House began to bore me about half way through, and—although the compulsively readable prose kept me going—exhausted and dismayed me at its end.
Part of this is because of the kind of reader I am, for I love terror but view horror with both interest and suspicion. Terror is implicit, a creation of metaphor and atmosphere; horror is explicit, a product of detail and effect. For me, terror is the meal, and horror is the salt and the spices. Use horror, certainly, for it keeps terror from becoming tasteless, but sprinkle it lightly or soon you will have an inedible concoction on your hands. Also, I believe that the short story is the most effective vehicle for terror because it compels the writer to concentrate on a single effect and use his horror judiciously. The novel, because of its length, tends to do the opposite.
Matheson is too good a craftsman to completely ruin his terror with horror, but I think in Hell House he comes close. The book begins well enough, with an atmospheric investigation of the old house and an absorbing narrative of its history, including the career of its owner, the evil Emeric Belasco, but then about a third of the way through poltergeist phenomena starts to occur. Soon the sexual attacks begin, first as tentative bitings and gropings (much of it prurient, inflicted on a medium who is described as a big-breasted, beautiful former movie star). And then there is of course the cat attack, the cache of pornographic polaroids, various superficial wounds, etc.
Still more than a hundred pages to go, and the reader is shocked and horrified already.
So what does Matheson do? He doubles down.
In writing, literal descriptions of horror operate much like the detailed relations of sexual or violent acts (both of which--come to think of it--they often contain). A little surprises and shocks us, more than a page or two bores us, and three pages or more makes us laugh even against our will, for an extensive delineation of horror inevitably becomes an unconscious parody of the effects the writer wishes to achieve.
The last third of Hell House often merited my involuntary laughter. And by the end of the book I was so thoroughly bored that I almost failed to register the fizzle of its ineffective ending. Still, there are some excellent thrills here. If you--unlike me--value horror above terror, you may find a lot here to like.
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Read information about the authorBorn in Allendale, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrant parents, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married in 1952 and has four children, three of whom (Chris, Richard Christian, and Ali Matheson) are writers of fiction and screenplays.
His first short story, "Born of Man and Woman," appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1950. The tale of a monstrous child chained in its parents' cellar, it was told in the first person as the creature's diary (in poignantly non-idiomatic English) and immediately made Matheson famous. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently blending elements of the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres.
Several of his stories, like "Third from the Sun" (1950), "Deadline" (1959) and "Button, Button" (1970) are simple sketches with twist endings; others, like "Trespass" (1953), "Being" (1954) and "Mute" (1962) explore their characters' dilemmas over twenty or thirty pages. Some tales, such as "The Funeral" (1955) and "The Doll that Does Everything" (1954) incorporate zany satirical humour at the expense of genre clichés, and are written in an hysterically overblown prose very different from Matheson's usual pared-down style. Others, like "The Test" (1954) and "Steel" (1956), portray the moral and physical struggles of ordinary people, rather than the then nearly ubiquitous scientists and superheroes, in situations which are at once futuristic and everyday. Still others, such as "Mad House" (1953), "The Curious Child" (1954) and perhaps most famously, "Duel" (1971) are tales of paranoia, in which the everyday environment of the present day becomes inexplicably alien or threatening.
He wrote a number of episodes for the American TV series The Twilight Zone, including "Steel," mentioned above and the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; adapted the works of Edgar Allan Poe for Roger Corman and Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out for Hammer Films; and scripted Steven Spielberg's first feature, the TV movie Duel, from his own short story. He also contributed a number of scripts to the Warner Brothers western series "The Lawman" between 1958 and 1962. In 1973, Matheson earned an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for The Night Stalker, one of two TV movies written by Matheson that preceded the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Matheson also wrote the screenplay for Fanatic (US title: Die! Die! My Darling!) starring Talullah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers.
Novels include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction vampire novel, I Am Legend, which has been filmed three times under the titles The Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth and once under the original title. Other Matheson novels turned into notable films include What Dreams May Come, Stir of Echoes, Bid Time Return (as Somewhere in Time), and Hell House (as The Legend of Hell House) and the aforementioned Duel, the last three adapted and scripted by Matheson himself. Three of his short stories were filmed together as Trilogy of Terror, including "Prey" with its famous Zuni warrior doll.
In 1960, Matheson published The Beardless Warriors, a nonfantastic, autobiographical novel about teenage American soldiers in World War II.
He died at his home on June 23, 2013, at the age of 87
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