Charlton Heston is the last man on Earth in this apocalyptic tale of viruses, vampires and alienation.
The second big screen outing for Richard Matheson’s seminal vampire novel ‘I Am Legend’, this Charlton Heston vehicle is really little more than an inferior remake of the L’Ultimo Uomo Della Terra (The Last Man On Earth, 1964). The latter was a low-ish budget Italian/US film that starred Vincent Price – in one of his least hammy roles – as the last living human, who is being besieged by vampires after a viral plague had depopulated the planet.
Updating the apocalyptic action of Matheson’s source novel to post-1960s LA, The Omega Man works best in its early sequences where Neville (Heston) wanders the city – armed with a submachine gun and a wardrobe full of proto-Nazi outfits – looking for survivors and supplies. (The opening scenes of downtown LA, empty of people, are particuarly powerful). Ensconced inside an apartment that would double in better times as the ultimate bachelor pad, Neville staves off madness by tirelessly screening footage from Woodstock (1970) on his personal cinema projector.
Realising that downtown Los Angeles was suitably deserted over the weekend, the producers decided to shoot the film’s external action in the city’s streets to save them having to build special sets.
Is this how it starts? A trip to the laughing academy? No you silly bastard it starts with you asking yourself silly questions. – With only himself to talk to, Neville (Charlton Heston) begins to crack up.
Charlton Heston as Robert Neville
Anthony Zerbe as Matthias
Rosalind Cash as Lisa
Paul Koslo as Dutch
Lincoln Kilpatrick as Zach
Brian Tochi as Tommy
Eric Laneuville as Richie
Jill Giraldi as Little Girl
Anna Aries as Woman in Cemetery Crypt
DeVeren Bookwalter as Family Member
John Dierkes as Family Member
Monika Henreid as Family Member
Linda Redfearn as Family Member
Forrest Wood as Family Member
Steve Goldstein as Last Boy
Director: Boris Sagal
Producer: Walter Seltzer
Writer: Richard Matheson
Photographer: Russell Metty
Composer: Ron Grainer
Screen Writers: John William Corrington, Joyce Hooper Corrington
USA | 98 minutes | 1971