THE LAST MAN ON EARTH – The Dungeon Review!

last man on earthI’ve seen both ‘I Am Legend’ with Will Smith and ‘Omega Man’ with Charleton Heston. Until just a few days ago, I had no idea there was a 1964 version starring Vincent Price! It’s a great story, and I think Vincent Price is the cats ass so I had to check it out.

Based on the Richard Matheson book “I Am Legend”. ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is the story of one man’s survival in a world where everyone is dead or has been transformed into a blood-thirsty monster.

It takes only one sentence to describe the bleak premise of ‘The Last Man On Earth’. Can you imagine waking up day after day without contact with another human being? Or trying to sleep through the night with blood-thirsty predators at your door? This is the life of Robert Morgan. Formerly a scientist, happy husband and proud father. We watch as Morgan awakes to another day. Three years in to his solitary existence, driven solely by the instinct to survive. Morgan’s day-to-day existence involves discovering where the creatures lie during the day, staking them, and transporting their bodies to a pit to be burned. Occasionally there is a need to pick up supplies; food, fuel, mirrors, wood for stakes. As he goes through his daily rituals, we also see flashbacks of his personal experience, and the unsettling circumstances involving his family’s demise. This black and white gem is dripping with atmosphere. Desolation as far as the eye can see. Roads littered with dead bodies and abandoned cars. In one extremely effective scene Morgan sees a dog, and his stoic demeanour is replaced by unadulterated joy. He is suddenly filled with hope upon seeing another living being.

still from last man on earth

I don’t want to give away any of the story, but I will tell you that all three film versions offer a different spin to the subject matter. Unfortunately I have never read the book so I have no idea which version is truest to the original. But the twist in this particular version is truly brilliant, and Morgan’s hopeless situation becomes decidedly worse. Morgan stakes vampires during the day while they sleep but generally avoids contact with the creatures when they are awake. He has garlic and mirrors on his door to help keep them away. They come in droves each night. They mindlessly bang on his boarded up windows moaning for hours on end. They slowly amble, staring ahead, pail and dirty. The film insists they are vampires but they have more zombie qualities. They are undead, and Morgan disposes of them with the classic stake to the heart method, but they had no other vampire characteristics. Regardless, the vampire-zombie creatures are not ineffective. In fact, they are featured in some impressively eerie scenes outside of Morgan’s house that work extremely well. You can’t deny the similarities to Romero’s ‘The Night of The Living Dead’, which came out four years after. Vincent Price gives a nicely understated performance as Robert Morgan. ‘The Last Man On Earth’ had a relatively slow-pace, but it compliments the tediousness and redundant nature of Morgan’s existence. There is a single scene towards the end that I thought was a bit clumsy and should have been left on the cutting room floor. There’s not a whole lot to criticize here otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Last Man On Earth’. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Review: 4.5/5

Directed By: Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow

Starring: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho, Christi Courtland

5 Responses to “THE LAST MAN ON EARTH – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Nathan Bartlebaugh Says:

    Easily the best filmed version of this story IMO. I think Price really nails the character of Neville. It’s funny because I honestly thought Smith’s portrayal in the first half was strong too, but ultimately the movie was just a throw away–like it didn’t really care to be anything more than a quick action job.

    Omega Man is well intended but falls into that gap in the 70s where a few other pictures also languished–the all too culture-centric films that were dated only a year or so later. It has moments I like but I have a hard time watchingit these days without cringing.

    Last Man on Earth feels more relevant and timeless than either of them put together. They really took the story seriously and its implications. By far the best final scene of the three too.

    Loved the review.

    • I agree with you completely on the Will Smith version, it does start out great and fizzles to nothing. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Omega Man, but I recall it being more violent than this or the Will Smith version. Heston was quite militant as I recall. All guns ablazing, grenades etc. I’m a Vincent Price fan anyway, but I’ll tell you, the more black and white horror I see the more I appreciate it.

      I really should read that book one of these days! Shamelessly, I have not read a single book since I started this blog at the end of January!

  2. Nathan Bartlebaugh Says:

    Neville I said? hehe..I meant ‘Morgan’.

  3. Nathan Bartlebaugh Says:

    this ending is the one closest to the novel’s end.

    ***SPOILER****
    Neville is the bogeyman to the newest generations of humans who sometimes lapse back into vampiric tendencies and are indistiguishable from the fully-turned monsters Neville kills. He’s the bedtime story of fear that they tell their kids. They don’t want a world where something like him is still prowling about, and obsolete, it is agreed that he must die and the legend of humanity along with him.

  4. I like this version the best as well,with one of my favorite Vincent Price performances(although I love them all!),and Giacomo Rossi Stuart very memorable,too. “Morgan,come out!”

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