Monday, November 2, 2009

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

I've seen a lot of zombie movies recently. On Halloween AMC ran The Night of the Living Dead and I ended up seeing most of it, again. Apparently the inspiration for Night was The Last Man on Earth, and the book it was based on, I Am Legend. Last Man was in my collection, so I popped it in.

Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) lives in a world where everybody else is infected by a virus. The virus kills the host, then they rise from the dead to kill the living. Delightful. Price plays a scientist who spends the last few years searching for a cure. We follow his regular routine, make coffee, run to the super market, burn corpses, look around town for zombie/vampires to drive stakes into their hearts. Regular stuff.

The monsters fear their own reflection, avoid garlic, can talk, hide in daylight, and are killed by the stake thing. Totally vampires. They are slow moving, dimwitted, and resemble rotting corpses. Sounds like zombies. I'll call them Zompires. No, wait, Vampies! Lemme work on it and I'll get back to you.

In flashback we see a little bit of Morgan's life and how the epidemic started spreading. His wife and child were taken. Three years dealing with the dead and missing his family have driven him to the brink of despair, or insanity. So sad.

Last Man is in the public domain and the quality was fairly poor. It was made in Italy and the dubbing was terrible. Worse still, this wasn't the perfect role for Price. He plays better as the smug villain, not the heroic protagonist. And what can you say about a movie where you sit and think of all sorts of ways to make it better, while you are watching it? Oh, and the poster is way sexier than the movie. Still, it boasts a legacy of Night, The Omega Man, and I am Legend, so it was interesting to see how it all began. Classic "Glad I saw it, don't need to see it again" deal. Totally AMRU 3.

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