Thursday, June 05, 2003


Video Reviews of "The Last Man on Earth" and "The Omega Man"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Both movies are based on Richard Matheson’s brilliant "I Am Legend." The Last Man on Earth is from 1964 and stars Vincent Price in one of his better performances. The Omega Man is painfully from groovy 1971 with Charlton Heston who in hindsight appears to have walked through the movie. One wonders how Arnold Schwartzeneggar will handle the role if he ever makes his take; he has acquired the rights.

It is the story of a man alone in a world full of vampires (or victims of a disease similar to vampirism) who want him dead. They stalk him by night and he thwarts them by day. Same story but the movies are miles apart in execution.

There are striking differences that hit you right away. The black and white Vincent Price entry has a more horror movie feel and the enemy is presented immediately as vampires who are reminiscent of the zombies from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead due to the lack of color. Price spends his days cleaning up after and prepping for battle with his nocturnal enemies while Heston cruises the city in a convertible, seeing free movies and general just chillin’ out looking cool.

The Last Man on Earth spends quite a bit more time exploring Price’s character. His narration guides us through his world. We learn the whys and wherefors through his memories and flashbacks, a technique that would have lent more to its remake had they used it. The Last Man on Earth is the superior of the two and is a must-see for sci-fi and horror fans alike.

As for The Omega Man, Heston made a number of these slick sci-fi flicks with bizarre soundtracks and beware-the-future themes for the Woodstock generation including the classics Soylent Green and the original Planet of the Apes. They don’t hold up well today because of the injection of flower power sensitivities. The excellent performance of Rosalind Cash doing her Pam Grier best is a prime example of this approach. It’s a shame, they could have been good as the simple true approach of The Last Man on Earth from only a few years earlier proves that.

The title role in The Omega Man could have been played by any action hero of the era. David Jannsen, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, heck, even O.J. Simpson could have done it. Heston strides through this one with no frills or skills whatsoever save his machismo. He’s one of the few guys who can do this and he looks cool doing it.

Your turn, Arnold.

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