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Richard Matheson ‘Duel’ Review


Written by: Matt Molgaard

I don’t know the history behind the term ‘road rage’, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the term surfaced in the wake of Duel’s release. This is a story that redefines road rage, while managing an eerie sense mystery. What’s the motive in this tale? Why are we experiencing such savage aggression on the road? Well, because Richard Matheson had a twisted mind that obviously seemed to toy with concepts that (at that time) weren’t necessarily the norm.

The story puts “Man” (that’s how our protagonist is referred to) against a deranged rig driver. Man is headed for a business meeting in San Francisco. He’s in a rush, and slow traffic isn’t going to aid him in arriving at his destination in timely fashion. When he finds himself behind a slow big rig he opts to pass, and that’s the beginning of one nightmarish commute. Whoever this mysterious man in the truck is, he’s taken offense at the man’s driving habits. How dare he pass me!

When things get that heated on the road, the only answer is homicide… right?


This is a case of extreme fury, and it works like an absolute charm.

The fact that Matheson is able to outline “Man” as a victim-to-be, who still has some gall is simply amazing. It also empowers him a convincingly likeable hero. No one favors the victim turned complete pushover. We need a lead with balls, and that’s what Matheson gives us, which keeps us completely focused on his horrific plight. This guy may be able to turn the tides! And, yes, he may very well be capable of creating a change in the momentum.

I’m not out to spoil the finale. That’s bogus business and I’m taking a detour. However, this is a gripping work from beginning to end. Inner demons battle furiously, instinct works as a figurative life vest, and a conclusion – particularly in this case – must be reached. The realism of the story is startlingly plausible, and that makes for a vexing connection between fiction and reader.

Amazing, A-Grade work that reminds us all that hideous, disfigured and otherworldly menaces aren’t the ones to really fear. Get your hands on this one as soon as possible. And while you’re at it, check out the 1971 feature of the same name. It’s not only enjoyable, it’s also one of Steven Spielberg’s earliest films.

Order it here, you’ll get plenty of additional goodies!

Rating: 4/5

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

2 Comments on Richard Matheson ‘Duel’ Review

  1. Wayne C. Rogers // July 28, 2013 at 1:04 am // Reply

    It was Steve Spielberg’s first film. He did it for television. I’m not sure, but I think Richard Matheson did the teleplay for it. The quality of this movie got Steve his next major gig, The Sugarland Express, which led to Jaws. The rest is history. With regards to the story, Matheson tapped into something primal in all of us. The country is now filled with various different types of rages. It’s like people are going crazy. Try limping across the intersection in the crosswalk with a cane. People don’t want to wait five seconds. They start beeping their horns and yelling at you to speed it up. Some even cut you off. Matheson was way ahead of his time.


  2. Cool to see this reviewed on the site. Spot on review, Matt.


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