Last Man On Earth, The (1964)

zombie vampires!
Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Vampires! What more do you need? Seriously!

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Sci-fi Vampire Zombie Horror! (USA, Italy)

Starring: Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands; "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein"), Giacomo Rossi-Stuart

Directed By: Ubaldo Ragona

Overview: Years ago, a plague swept through the land, leaving Dr. Robert Morgan the only one free from a disease that turns its victims into bloodthirsty walking dead.


Compared to Charlton Heston, Vincent Price is a better actor, yet a poorer stuntman. Had I had the opportunity to spend some time with him I'd have trained him to be a little more like his character, a man who for the last three years has been stalking the living dead and staking them to death. He was just a smidgeon awkward running around with that hammer.
Rating: 8


Middle budget fare. No high art but no boom mikes either.
Rating: 7


Standard explanatory without too much literary depth.
Rating: 7


Based on the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend (which I am now very eager to read), this story has been adapted into many a film: there was a "Masters of Horror" episode called "Bliss", where the disease is in fact a bio-terror weapon. Will Smith is working on the self-titled film set for release in 2007. Most notably, you may have heard of the more famous Charlton Heston monstrosity The Omega Man. What's interesting about each of these adaptations is that the approach to the plot is always very unique. I would hazard that The Last Man On Earth version is truest to the original story since it was made 10 years after the novel was written and seems unsullied by too much alternate vision. Besides a nice backstory and a very enjoyable conclusion, I'd say it's my favourite so far.
Rating: 8


Personally, I always found that sci-fi and post-apocalyptic tales to be the easiest plots to write features films for. What I mean is, right at the start of the writer's endeavour, the setting's backstory has to be explained, hence more has to be told to set us in the now than with a modern day drama, for example. Questions exists about why the world is the way it is and who is responsible and what has happened since and by the time you've covered that, you could easily be 40 minutes in and never have even touched upon the actual plot. Stephen King's 1000-page novel The Stand, for example, took a third of the book to finally get the characters together to begin the actual storyline.

All this to say that when you start off with a story that invites a long series of questions that need to be answered, answer them properly. There was a valiant attempt to answer the questions, but somewhere along the way, the screenwriter forgot that the last ten minutes was not the point of the story. The script should have included atmosphere enhancing things like a home better defended from nightly assaults, a character with a context that was hint deeper.
Rating: 8

whakka whakka!
Whakka whakka!

Overall Rating: 76% (Not Quite Larger Than Life)

What we're given is quite enjoyable. Fans of the genre will see how this film has influenced many that came after it including Night of The Living Dead, which is no small feat. What hurt most was the pain caused by a film underbudgeted. Apparent was the lack of extra cash to beef up scenes that could have used some additional consultation. A moment here should have been reshot, a scripted scene there should have been rewritten from someone more skilled. Most of all the logic of a man who has survived day and day out for three years, as a hunter no less... well a 'legend' like that should have known better far too many times.

Still there's such great potential that I'm sure to jump on that Will Smith bandwagon.

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