Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Last Man on Earth Review

The Last Man on Earth, is the first film adaptation of I Am Legend, and it follows the novel very closely, much more closely than the last two adaptations. Its Wikipedia page actually linked to where you can watch it for free on the web, so last night I got around to doing just that.

The film is presented in black and white, stars Vincent Price, and runs at just under an hour and a half. While I certainly admire how true to the book it was in terms of content, The Last Man on Earth sadly lacks the feeling of isolation and despair that the book has, or even the book's most recent adaptation: I Am Legend.

Not only that, but the vampires in The Last Man on Earth are simply laughable. Granted, it's a low budget film released in 1964, but still, they were really, really bad and completely unbelievable; more akin to really bad B-flick zombies than vampires.

The Last Man on Earth begins with Robert Morgan waking up to begin his daily routine, approximately 3 years after a deadly germ has swept through the world, infecting and turning the population into blood-thirsty vampires. Morgan, spends his days scavenging for supplies and hunting the vampires as they sleep, and his nights are spent barricaded in his home as the vampires constantly try to find a way in through his shoddy fortifications that couldn't even keep a 4-year-old girl scout out, but somehow works on the undead.

Seriously, Morgan's boarded-up windows have to be the single worst fortification I've ever seen, with large spaces and holes everywhere, but granted, since most of the vampires simply spend their time hucking small rocks at his house or standing out by the door lightly tapping wooden clubs ever so slowly against his door and walls, well, let's just say these vampires sure ain't trying anymore.

In fact, in once instance when Morgan is caught outside at night and surrounded, he simple pushes and shoves his way through the crowd of blood-sucking monsters unharmed. It was so bad it was hilarious. Granted, the vampires in I Am Legend weren't anything to jump and shout about either, and they were really a means to an end, the cause of Neville's isolationist self-loathing, sexual frustration, and alcoholism. Sadly, this depth and complexity is completely lost with Morgan.

His character is very generic, actually, and it was more interesting to watch his bland "I'm a professional scientist" performance magically switch to an over-the-top aggressive personality in the flashback sequence that shows the beginnings of the plague. Oh, and being a film from the '60's, men like to grab women by their shoulders and shake them violently a lot. It was apparently the style of the time needed to really drive a point home, 'cause you know, all women from the '60's have ADD or something.

If you are looking for a laugh, you can watch The Last Man on Earth for free here. If you're looking for a decent flick, you can go watch I Am Legend. If your looking for an excellent read that's both captivating and influential and better than both the above, go read I Am Legend, it's actually engaging instead of cheesy.

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