Monday, 11 May 2015

The Last Man On Earth 1964

As I mentioned on Friday, the novel I am Legend spawned three major movie adaptions. 

Seeing the movies span four decades, is interesting to review these in terms of how this story of mass plague and monsters has changed over time. So grab the popcorn and let's start with the first movie!

 The Last Man on Earth 1964 – starring Vincent Price

Being over 50 years old this movie is in black and white and the special effects leave a lot to be desired. Still it has it's own charm. To save money the movie was filmed in Italy so the city does not look much like Los Angeles. Vince Price, with his distinctive voice, plays Dr Robert Morgan (rather than Robert Neville) and unlike the book, he a scientist working on a cure for the disease. It is also set in 1967 rather than 1976. 

This movie still sticks close the original book with Richard Matheson having worked on the screenplay until he had a falling out with the producers. Many of the novel's elements are there, like Robert losing his family to the disease, his wife becoming a vampire and his immunity the result of a vampire bat bite he got while working in Panama. 

There is also the vampire Ben who taunts Robert every night. The creatures are called vampires and we see the three groups portrayed in the book, Robert the only human with immunity, the infected living and the vampire dead. As in the novel, Neville is the only human alive and is killed by a new social order of infected humans. Mankind dies with him - maybe. He does a blood transfusion with Ruth to cure her so maybe she can save mankind.

What is of interest is that the vampires move slowly, zombie like. If it was not for the garlic, mirrors and stakes used in the film you could easily think is was a zombie movie. Looking at the scene above you can see the parallels with George A. Ramero’s Night of the Living Dead 1968 a scene of which is below. It looks like Ramero was inspired by both the book and this movie.

I gather Last Man on Earth has entered into the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright. The Internet Archive has a copy for free. 

Bite off more garlic than you can chew.

Mr Rimsky


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