Countdown to Halloween Day 30: Last Man on Earth (1964)

Countdown to Halloween – Day 30: Last Man on Earth (1964)
Cast:
      Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan
Franca Bettoia as Ruth Collins
Giacomo Rossi Stuart as Ben Cortman

Based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Screenplay by Ubaldo Ragona & Furio M. Monetti
Directed by Ubaldo Ragona

Plot: A plague has devastated Earth, leaving the survivors as zombie-like vampires lurking in the darkness. Dr. Robert Morgan is the last man on Earth who hasn’t been contaminated but when he meets some other infected survivors, he may have the last chance to find a cure.

Personal Thoughts: The Omega Man is one of my all-time favorite films, partly because I love that era of Charlton Heston. So, it’s hard for me to watch this film without immediately comparing Price to Heston. I think Price is miscast here as I’m never quite convinced that he has been alone for some three years, struggling to survive and hunting down the zombie vampires (or whatever we wish to call them, who greatly resemble the Romero some four years later). For me, Price is best when he’s in a gothic setting, so he seems out of place here. The movie is well made and there are some fun segments, including the chase scene towards the end. That said, something has always seemed a little off with this one.

Trivia:
  • Richard Matheson wrote the original script in 1957 with the intent it would be produced by Hammer Films and directed by Fritz Lang.
  • Remade in 1971 as The Omega Man with Charlton Heston and 2007 as I Am Legend with Will Smith.
  • The main character’s name is Robert Neville in the book and other two films.
  • Richard Matheson was dissatisfied with the final script and opted to be credited as Logan Swanson in the US prints.
  • Charlton Heston was not a fan of this version, which he viewed prior to making The Omega Man.

Availability: Available on Blu-ray in The Vincent Price Collection II from Shout! Factory. It’s also available in the public domain but the Blu-ray version is the best way to go.

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