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The Last Man On Earth

A 1964 horror/science fiction film, which based on a novel by Richard Matheson, starring Vincent Price.

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IT MAY BE OLD BUT ITS STILL GOT BITE

  • Apr 30, 2009
Rating:
+5
So,I AM LEGEND has finally come out, with its big name star and its big budget and its big computer generated special effects, but when the smoke and hype cleared the fact remains that THE LAST MAN ON EARTH with Vincent Price filmed back in the 1960's in black and white with no virtually no budget and no special effects at all is still the best available adaptation of Richard Matheson's classic Horror/SciFi novel. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is the story of a single human being and his day to day struggle to survive in a world devastated by a plague that has turned all other living creatures into vampires, while at the same time he tries to understand the nature of virus that caused the plague and perhaps bring about a cure. It's far deeper and more complex than the newer film, but like the newer film it deviates from Matheson's novel in its ending by giving its ending  a Christian slant.

Matheson disapproved of LAST MAN. He felt that Vincent Price was wrong for the role, that it called for a more rugged man, someone along the lines of Charlton Heston who later did play the role in THE OMEGA MAN which was the second (and extremely dismal) attempt to bring Matheson's novel to the big screen. I'm sure he also disapproved of the ending to OMEGA MAN as well since it made the same mistake that the earlier version had.  ****MAJOR SPOILER*** Both LAST MAN and OMEGA MAN end in scenes that blatantly re-enact the crucifixion of Christ. In Heston's case its almost impossible for the modern audience to stifle a laugh considering his past roles in Biblical films and his public persona.The SMITH film version ends in a manner not dissimilar when you think about it. Sure there isn't any actual crucifixion per se but Neville is still offering up his  life and his own blood so that the world may live. So this ending  isn't merely  at odds with the Matheson's book, it simply has nothing at all to do with it.

We may never see a perfect adaptation of this landmark novella which is a brilliant blend of both horror and science fiction. Why? Because Matheson has written an ending that is cinematically unsatisfying--virtually unfilmable. So do yourself a favor and see THE LAST MAN ON EARTH and then read I AM LEGEND then you can decide for yourself. I think you might agree with me.
IT MAY BE OLD BUT ITS STILL GOT BITE IT MAY BE OLD BUT ITS STILL GOT BITE IT MAY BE OLD BUT ITS STILL GOT BITE IT MAY BE OLD BUT ITS STILL GOT BITE

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July 20, 2011
Lawrence's adaptation confirms so many awful contemporary trends especial (though hardly exclusive) to American cinema: clumsy pacing, ugly tinted photography, conspicuously artificial CG and with the exception of Smith, impossibly bland performances. Despite his unbearable hokiness and penchant for roles in the worst genre dreck, Smith actually an actor of some notable talent who turns out a good performance on the rare occasions when he has a good script to work with. No such luck there, as he's hopelessly underutilized.

Similarly, The Omega Man also embodies so many of the worst qualities of its period's mainstream fare: cheap sets, ostentatious dialogue and a narrative with more ambition than coherence...in spite of myself, that's why I can't help but enjoy it. As in Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green, Heston thrived in huge, hammy roles of the larger-than-life persecuted Übermensch, happily subsumed by that Cold War hysteria and paranoid machismo in which Kirk Douglas and even Burt Lancaster contributed. That era means so much to me - obviously not always as a qualifier of taste, as these selections are concerned - but there's a kitch to it that's as nearly so dear to me as that of exploitation films and rock bands circa '65-'84.
July 21, 2011
I hated THE OMEGA MAN...primarily because of Heston. Sadly Matheson had wanted Heston for the part in LAST MAN. The thought turns my stomach. Chuckie was the one man on earth who could out ham Vinnie Price. (Not that I don't love Price. His type of ham wasn't such an arrogant schmuck.) Did you ever see the Mark Dacascos version, I AM OMEGA?
July 21, 2011
As arrogant schmucks come, Heston was but a Marquess to John Wayne's douche king. That said, his curious appeal wasn't merely a result of the age in which he flourished. Note Welles' intentional miscasting of C. Heston in Touch of Evil, perhaps the most subversive Anglophone production of his age - as absurd as casting me as a Viking, and a brilliant way to fuel that moral ambiguity that Welles so expertly cultivated!

Your mention is the first I've read or heard of I Am Omega. Is it parodic, and worth viewing? I'm only familiar with Dacascos by his role in Brotherhood of the Wolf.
July 21, 2011
It's impossible to top casting Wayne as Genghis Khan though! But of course that production wasn't on the same level as Welles' film. =) I think I caught I AM OMEGA on SyFy. I wish I could say that it was parodic, but sadly it was not. I'm a completist and I think it ws worth seeing only for that reason. Dacascos has made at least one other film that is other seeing--DRIVE by special effects guy Steve Wang who also wrote, produced, directed, choeographed, starred in, and did the special fx for KUNG FU RASCALS, a flick I reviewed here. To be sure neither DRIVE nor KUNG FU RASCALS is on the same level as BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, but there is fun to be dad. Wanf also did THE GUYVER and its sequel.
July 21, 2011
But of course that production wasn't on the same level as Welles' film.

Yeah. Nor Wiseau's The Room to any of Rohmer's.

A glance at I Am Omega on IMDB reveals that it's a Global Asylum production - among the most certain guarantors of bad taste, so I will see it sooner or later! Expect my Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus review sometime this week.
July 21, 2011
Gotta love the scenes in MS Vs GO where the MS launches itself out of the water and takes out a jet passenger plane in flight! Classic.
July 22, 2011
That's the scene by which the picture is apparently best advertised by word of mouth...but I expected more (though not better).
July 23, 2011
When it comes to a movie like that I always know that they've given us everything they've got in the promo ads--that's all there is, there isn't any more. Still, I watch 'em anyhow just to see if they've bothered to give us a context for he scene...which they rarely bother to do. =)
 
May 02, 2009
I don't think there will ever be a definitive version of I Am Legend. This version is way better than the two remakes that followed. Heston has too much of A Christ complex a la Mel Gibson in Omega Man.
May 02, 2009
That's for sure! That's why I can't help but laugh when he's virtually crucified in that fountain. You just don't get the same response when it's Price.
 
April 30, 2009
Great review -- I have the book and will start reading it... I liked the best the Heston version of all three.
May 01, 2009
Obviously I didn't, but that's what makes horse races. OMEGA MAN just had nothing at all to do with the book. In fact it referenced LAST MAN ON EARTH more than it referenced Matherson's book! That's kind of odd.
 
April 30, 2009
great write up. It has been many years since I saw this last. "I am Legend" (with Will Smith) was ok for me, but it could've been so much better. Have you heard that sci-fi channel is also doing its own take on this premise with an original flick with Mark Dacsacos? Maybe it was already out but I missed it, it has been real hectic for me. I think it was called "Legend of the Omega man" or something like that. Love the pic.
April 30, 2009
No I didn't. Wouldn't do me any good though until it comes out on dvd because we don't get that channel on my cable. Its still going to have problems with that unfilmable ending. Dacascos is more in the rugged vein that Matheson had in mind, but I doubt that the movie will have any substance to it. I don't know why they call them "their" originals, they're made by outside companies unaffiliated with the channel. Take NIGHT FEEDERS for instance, totally independent but it now has that stigma attached to it because it aired as a Sci-Fi Channel Original. I wish you could hear this, my cat is dreaming--and apparently he's dreaming about his happy kitten days because he's making little sucking noises like a kitten nursing.  He does this a lot and it just breaks me up.
April 30, 2009
Guys/Gals: I did a bit of research and found the film 'Pak mentions. The link is a review of the 2007 film -- pretty bad, worse than Wil Smith's: http://www.dreadcentral.com/reviews/i-am-omega-2007
May 01, 2009
Thanks! I just checked it out and it seemed to me that they were riffing more on the OMEGA MAN than on the book, but it goes off in such a weird direction that it hasn't nothing to do with any of the films or the book really.
May 01, 2009
yeh. sci fi makes sucky flicks but I did enjoy some of them. "Hell on earth" and "Splinter" were pretty ok.
May 01, 2009
Like I said, I don't think they really make them. They weren't responsible for NIGHT FEEDERS but it was still shown as a "SciFi Channel Original".
 
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More The Last Man On Earth reviews
review by . October 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) gets up every morning and marks each day on his current calendar with a little "X". I presume that means to symbolize each day he has successfully lived through. Then, he checks the garlic and mirrors that are placed on his door. If he needs more; then he makes a trip to town/city in his car. He goes for a ride; but not to sightsee. He has important business. Sometimes, he needs gas, sometimes he needs more garlic and another mirror …
review by . July 20, 2011
Post-apocalyptic angst galore
Of the three film adaptations of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, this is definitely my favorite. Last Man treads lightly on the social implications of Matheson's story to concentrate on heartbreaking personal themes, but there's no denying the incalculable influence that both the book and the film have asserted on filmic realizations of vampires and zombies alike.      Although the performances of the small cast are of mixed quality, Vincent Price is - as always - …
Quick Tip by . May 24, 2010
Vincent Price
Just re-watched this for the first time in many years and it's still incredible. Character-driven, eerie, & one of Vincent Price's best roles! Not only is the film a seminal horror and science fiction film, but it is also an essential film in the history of the vampire and zombie sub-genres. Of all the films based on Richard Matheson's classic novel, this is certainly the best, whether Matheson acknowledges it or not.  
review by . May 13, 2009
I Am Legend receives the silver screen treatment in "Last man on Earth"(1964). For once Vincent Price is actually acting for once (instead of playing himself and hamming up the joint like his Corman/A.I.P. films). The black and white cinematography adds to the films eeriness. Many of the film's elements were later taken and used in Night of the living Dead (1968). I wish this film would one day get the credit it deserves. If you want a good scare and are a huge fan of post-apocalyptic films (such …
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karen ()
Ranked #21
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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About this movie

Wiki

An Italian movie based upon the Richard Matheson novel I am Legend.  The film was originally going to be a Hammer Films production but trouble with the censors and financial backing fell through.  Was picked up by an Italian production company
Matheson wasn't pleased with the changes made to the script and the film's low production values so he gave his screen credit the pseudonym of Logan Swanson.

One of the inspirations for Night of the Living Dead.
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Details

Director: Sidney Salkow
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 1964.3.8 (USA), 1964.8.19 (Italy)
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Richard Matheson
DVD Release Date: 2005
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: Produzioni La Regina, Associated Producers (API)
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