THE LAST MAN ON EARTH—-first version of science-fiction writer Richard Matheson’s 1954 book “I Am Legend”, shot over in Italy, released in 1964. There is a sole survivor of a planet-wide plague. Those who were infected have become blood-hungry zombies, and they make the loners life more miserable than it was already. At least he stays busy.
“You’re freaks, all of you! All of you, freaks, mutations!”
Directed by Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow, running a brief 86 minutes, it has a great premise, and there are some eerie sequences, but for the most part it’s jumpy, poorly dubbed and cheesy-looking and Vincent Price doesn’t make a very convincing hero. Matheson co-wrote the script, under a pseudonym, but was unhappy with the result, citing the direction and the miscast Price.
The 1971 remake, The Omega Man was not exactly Shakespeare, with Charlton Heston as the hero,zapping mutants in L.A. (a full-time job if there ever was one). Chuck’s take on the Price version: “…incredibly botched, totally unfrightening, ill-acted, sloppily written and photographed.” Considering how bad a job they did on The Omega Man, that’s a Moses mouthful. They finally did it up right in 2007, with Will Smith, using the original title and a big-scale production.
With Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. This one landed on 89th place in ’64, managing to gross $2,700,000.