The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Directed by: Ubaldo B. Ragona & Sidney Salkow. Written by: Ubaldo B. Ragona, Furio M. Monetti, William F. Leicester & Logan Swanson based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
Plot: A crazy virus wipes out all of humanity, turning them into bloodsucking zombies. One man (Vincent Price) survives and spends all of his daylight hours trying to destroy as many zombies as possible. Remember now, this was made before Night of the Living Dead.
Review: I’ve seen all three versions of I Am Legend and like this one best probably because it is closest to the novel. I liked the novel. Both the other versions are more action movies whereas this one is basically a spooky zombie movie.
However, it is a zombie movie with some interesting moral dilemmas. Most of the zombies are nothing more than bloodsucking animals, however, some of them are actually conscious, intelligent people who have learned to control their craving for blood, but the main character is unable to tell the difference in the daytime. Think about it.
That always freaked the hell out of me. Ordinarily the zombies are just targets but in this one, they could very well be people. Disturbing. I always thought that this movie was sort of underrated or, more often, not rated at all. Especially when people start talking about zombie movies and how George Romero invented the flesh-eating-zombie genre (actually, some of the people I discuss this with think he invented the zombie genre period and haven’t heard of White Zombie and I have to explain to them that the monsters traditionally referred to as ‘zombies’ are actually ‘ghouls’. I‘m kind of an asshole). Many of them don’t know that Night of the Living Dead lifted a lot of stuff from this movie (as well as Carnival of Souls).
Anyway, this movie, though low budget and slightly crappy, manages to capture a sort of creepy, apocalyptic atmosphere, which is reflected in the opening scenes of 28 Days Later (which also lifted a lot of stuff from this movie, according to me - the opening scene of this looks a lot like the scene in which Cillian Murphy is sort of wandering around... that felt like Quiet Earth also).
And it’s got Vincent Price in it. He overacts like a mofo in this movie, but always in his discreet way (don’t ask me how someone can overact discreetly - he does it). I know, the other versions had Charlton Heston and Will Smith in them, and I dig Charlton Heston and Will Smith in a pretty major way but… Vincent Price. Come on. He’s cool, in an uncool sort of way. Creepy and yet so charming.
So yeah, I doubt there are many people out there who agree with me on this one, but I think this flick is fuckin a and everyone should watch it. It's not as fast paced or exciting as the other versions but as far as I'm concerned, it's way more interesting.
Favourite Part: Vincent Price’s wife (Emma Danieli) gets the virus and slowly dies. Instead of taking her to the huge pits where the bodies are being burned en masse, he sneaks off and buries her out in the countryside somewhere. Bad idea. She turns into a zombie/vampire and comes back to their house and scratches at the door, whispering, “Bob, let me in, let me in, let me in, let me in”. That is one of the freakiest thing ever. Also, it has inspired me to stand outside of peoples windows and doors at night whispering "Bob, let me in". They always know it's me though. Every time anything like that happens... it's always me.
Other Versions: Omega Man (Charlton Heston factor) and I Am Legend (pretty good).
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