THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Tony
1964, 86 Minutes, Directed by: Sidney Salkow
British horror movie legend Vincent Price is the last
human survivor of a mysterious and unexplained plague that left most of
humanity either dead or turned them into brainless vampires in this 1960s
Black & White movie.
The vampires only come out at night
so during the day Price systematically kills them off one by one; while in
the evenings a mob of vampires —
who are allergic to the things normal movie vampires are allergic to, namely
garlic and mirrors —
unsuccessfully try to break into his boarded-down house (foreshadowing
Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead a
few years later).
Sadly one of the vampires
futilely trying to break into Price’s house used to be his best friend . . .
If the story seems
familiar: it is of course based on SF author Richard (Incredible
Shrinking Man, Twilight Zone) Matheson’s story I Am Legend,
and it was filmed again in the mid-1970s as The Omega
Man with a post-Planet of the Apes
Charlton Heston as the title character.
At the time of writing, another
version of the story has been filmed in 2007, this time under its original title of
Legend and starring Will Smith as the hero, so one can just imagine what
sort of movie it is going to be. (And the idea of Will Smith being the sole
human specimen left is kind of depressing when one thinks about it.)
More than just a hint of
sadness and loss hangs over a huge part of The Last Man on Earth,
particularly in an extended flashback scene that recounts how the plague
spread and Price lost his wife and daughter in the process.
Needless to say, the ending
is a downer too as the film doesn’t even end on the hopeful note that the
Charlton Heston movie did. (Price himself comes over as a kindly albeit
chronically depressed uncle you might have instead of one of his usual
campy, the movie is too much of a downer for Mystery
Science Theater 3000 types hoping to poke fun at a late night cheesy
horror flick. In fact, Last Man on Earth deserves a critical
re-evaluation when it comes to cheap (for make no mistake, it is quite a low
budget effort) horror movies of the era.
Worth seeing for fans of
older genre movies, even though the film’s pacing is often a bit too languid
for its own good.