The Last Man On Earth (1964)

DVD Cover (American International Pictures)
Genres / Traits: Horror, Sci-Fi Disaster Film, Science Fiction, Vampire Film, Post Apocalyptic
It is three years since a plague either killed everyone on earth or turned them into zombies. Dr. Robert Morgan is the sole survivor and lives a perilous existence where at night the zombies attack his house and during the day he seeks out zombies and kills them. The monotony and isolation of his existence is getting to him - is there any point to all this? --IMDb
Ubaldo Ragona Ubaldo Ragona
Sidney Salkow Sidney Salkow
Vincent Price Vincent Price
Franca Bettoia Franca Bettoia
Emma Danieli Emma Danieli
Giacomo Rossi Stuart Giacomo Rossi Stuart
Umberto Raho Umberto Raho
Movie Connections:
I Am Legend
> The Last Man On Earth (1964)
> The Omega Man (1971)
> I Am Omega (2007)
> I Am Legend (2007)
User Lists:
> Public Domain Films

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 10, 2007
Richard Matheson's I Am Legend is one of the most influential novels when it comes to the history of cinema - period. The book inspired the obvious films which were based on the story - The Omega Man, the upcoming Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend (shudder), and of course, tonight's film - but it also indirectly inspired Romero's Night of the Living Dead. How, you ask? Well, just take a look at the vampires found within this film, and then take a look at how Romero had his zombies behave on screen: save for the vampires here being able to speak, the resemblance is indisputable. Obviously, Romero's original zombie film would set the whole zombie subgenre into motion, the zombie subgenre inspired the Italian cannibal subgenre, and so on and so forth down the line - and things could have been radically different had Matheson's novel not inspired this film.

The title of this film sums up the storyline nicely: Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the last man on earth thanks to a deadly virus wiping out the entire population. As if being alone on the planet wasn't bad enough, Morgan also has to contend with hordes of vampires that come out at night in an attempt to find humans to dine on... and since Robert is the only person on earth, it should go without saying that the man is in high demand amongst the bloodsuckers.

The movie is basically told in three chapters: the first shows how Robert spends his days fighting the vampire threat and killing them off one by one while they sleep in the daytime, the second is a series of flashbacks which show how this virus wiped out the earth's population, and the third is the grand finale which relies on a surprise event which I won't spoil here. Each of these chapters is presented in a campy style that is heavily reminiscent of the horror and sci-fi offerings from the fifties, but regardless of that, they're still quite effective and entertaining.

Although these vampires are the main protagonists of the film, they're not the stars and nor are they the focal point of the story. The emphasis of the film is Robert and how he handles this situation, trying desperately to find any other survivors while whittling down the numbers of the walking undead during the day. Most of the running time is spent either inside Robert's house or - in the case of the flashbacks in the second "chapter" - inside a laboratory. A fast-paced horror film it isn't, but those of you looking for a smart take on the vampire idea would be well advised to take a look at one of the best films the genre has to offer.

Viewers should know going in that they're in for a damned fine performance from the leading man; after all, has Vincent Price ever turned in anything less that stellar? Not in any of the films that I've seen, and this one is no different. Watching a lesser actor sit on a couch and drink coffee while we listen to a voice-over narration could have been painful to sit through, but Price makes it work in each and every last one of the scenes. His supporting cast is nothing to brag about, but save for his wife's (Emma Danieli) anti-feminism performance in the flashbacks, nobody warrants criticism either.

Quite simply, The Last Man on Earth is yet another classic that has finally gotten some attention on the ol' M&V. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed The Omega Man just a little bit more, there's no denying that this version of the story is the most faithful to the original novel. It's also a great way to spend the evening in front of the tube for fans of classic horror, and for that, I'm going with a 9/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 07/26/2007, 02:06 PM
Good to see there's a reviewer out there who enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Honestly, I like "The Omega Man" better, also. However this movie felt, I dunno, more palatable. It's slower than "The Omega Man" and, quite frankly, there I few actors I have more fun watching than Vincent Price... he sorta made this one for me. 8.5/10
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