Last Man on Earth (1964) Movie Reviews
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By John Chard February 1, 2017
They are coming to get you Morgan.
Vincent Price stars as Dr. Robert Morgan, the apparent sole survivor on Earth after a lethal virus has wiped out mankind. His only company is a plague of vampire like zombies thirsting for his blood each and every night. Tiring of the constant fights and desperate in his loneliness, Morgan is at the end of his tether, until...
The source story from which this film is adapted, "I Am Legend" written by Richard Matheson, is rightly or wrongly considered to be something of a sci-fi classic. This explains why in three different decades the film has been adapted to the big screen. Following on from this first attempt we have been offered up The Omega Man in 1971 and I Am Legend in 2007, all three big screen outings are of differing quality and separated by their respective approaches to the subject.
The Last Man On Earth is to me the best of the three films to date. Having horror legend Vincent Price play the main character automatically lends people to think that this picture is primarily a horror film. Something that may explain why it's been largely ignored outside of those who have a penchant for Matheson and Price's respective work. Tho proudly containing (justly) horror elements (George Romero was clearly watching with interest) Ubaldo Ragona's film perfectly portrays the agony of Morgan's solitude, it's not merely about his battle with virally challenged zombies. Morgan's battle is chiefly with himself (wonderfully realised by an undervalued Price performance) he may have inherited the Earth, but his function has been reduced to being nothing more than an assassin of the night creatures. His existence is growing grim by the year, until he makes an amazing discovery, and it's one that swerves the film into its final quarter. Where to me at least, the film achieves what the other adaptations failed to do, namely no swagger involved, no cop outs and pandering to the norm, it's a highly fitting finale that is in keeping with the story's heart.
Tho based as if in an American city, it's actually shot on location in Rome, Italy. With the whole cast other than Price himself, being Italian. Low on budget, The Last Man On Earth is unable to break free of its B movie sheen, yet this aids the structure of the picture. Grainy black and white shots of derelict streets are boosting the apocalyptic essence, this is a depressing time, not only for Morgan, but for us the viewers as well. We are not meant to jump out of our seats with fright, or to whoop and holler as Morgan lays waste to another creature of the night. We are asked to imagine what it would be like to be the last human on Earth, and if indeed we could quite simply cope with the isolation and dreams of a life long since past.
Fine and intelligent picture 7.5/10