The Omega Man (1971)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 68%
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Ranked #2,266
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Connections: I Am Legend

Due to an experimental vaccine, Dr. Robert Neville is the only survivor of an apocalyptic war waged with biological weapons. The plague caused by the war has killed everyone else except for a few hundred deformed, nocturnal people calling themselves "The Family". The plague has caused them to become sensitive to light, as well as homicidally psychotic. They believe science and technology to be the cause of the war and their punishment, and Neville, as the last symbol of science, the old world, and a "user of the wheel", must die. Neville, using electricity, machinery, and science attempts to hold them at bay. --IMDb
Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
Anthony Zerbe
Anthony Zerbe
Rosalind Cash
Rosalind Cash
Paul Koslo
Paul Koslo
Eric Laneuville
Eric Laneuville
Review by Chad
Added: December 02, 2007
With the upcoming third adaptation of the I am Legend novel just around the corner, I thought that it was about time that the best of the bunch made its way onto this site. The first adaptation, for those of you not in the know, was the Vincent Price classic The Last Man on Earth, and although I enjoyed the hell out of that one, there's just something about this seventies version starring Charlton Heston that puts a smile on my face each and every time I watch it. I seriously doubt that Will Smith will live up to the performances by either of these men, so I don't think that I'm being too bold in saying that of the three, this one will forever remain my favorite. Why? Well, let's take care of the plot first, shall we?

Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) is quite possibly the last man on earth. Wait, let me rephrase that: Robert Neville is quite possibly the last normal man on earth. You see, thanks to man's fascination with all things destructive, a biological weapon has been unleashed during a period of war, and this results in damned near everyone on the planet dying a horrible, painful death. There are a handful of other survivors, of course, with a band of people led by Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) being the largest group; however, these people were not entirely unaffected by the weapons, as they've now become almost vampiric in nature and have set out to destroy the remnants of the world that turned them into this. Anything dealing with science, technology, and modern weaponry must be destroyed, and I think that it goes without saying that the last full-blooded human from that era is at the top of the list of things that must be pulverized. It's a daily battle between our hero and these mutants, but things change when he meets Lisa (Rosalind Cash), another survivor who seems to be unaffected by the biological warfare.

Alright, so things were changed considerably in this adaptation of the story, and really, one could say that it's pretty much an entirely new storyline. Sure, the gist of Matheson's novel is included here, but when you get down to the details... well, let's just say that I judge a movie based on how entertaining it is, not how respectful it is to the source material. With that said, The Omega Man is one hell of an entertaining film, and it's also pretty much required viewing for any serious fan of horror - especially for those of you contemplating sitting down for Will Smith's upcoming version of the story.

The storyline for this one is, in my humble opinion, absolutely flawless. There have been many films over the years that attempted to place a lone hero in the "last man on earth" scenario, and although some of those films have been quite successful with their attempts, none can compare to the way that this was done in The Omega Man. It truly feels like the world has come to a screeching halt as we watch Mr. Neville go through the various twists and turns that confront him, and when you mix in the mutants, the film just gets downright awesome. There are also plenty of surprising twists along the way, and I assure you that you will not be able guess the ending and some of the key events during your debut watching.

Besides that, what makes the film work as well as it does is the flawless mixture of horror, tension, thrills, action, and of course, Charlton Heston. Say what you will about Heston and his dealings outside of films, but the man didn't become a household name by turning in lackluster performances, and his appearance here is no exception. The man absolutely exudes a mixture of class and testosterone, and this is exactly the type of man that needed to be used for a film like this. We've also got Matthias and his merry band of mutants, and that little group of people certainly doesn't slouch in their roles either; although Anthony Zerbe is really the only member of the group who gets a considerable amount of screen time, the group as a whole is presented as being extremely menacing and equally disturbing. When Heston is forced to do battle with these baddies time and time again, you simply can't help but get a smile on your face as the carnage plays out on your screen.

The Omega Man is definitely a classic, and honestly, the only fault that I can find in it is the fact that the musical score hasn't aged very well. They used some seventies dance-type music throughout the vast majority of the film, and although this was in style and "hip" at the time of its release, it comes across as rather cheesy today. I could overlook that to an extent, but it doesn't even really match the events taking place at any given time; dance music does not go well with an adrenaline-pumping chase scene or a horrific encounter with the monsters, and I fail to see how anyone could have thought that it did. Still, this is a very minor gripe when the film in question is as good as this one was, and for that, I'm going with a 9.5/10.
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