The Sci-Fi Chronicles book has been nothing short of immensely enjoyable so far, and I love working my way through different incarnations of stories, seeing the way series, ideas, and effects progressed through the ages. This time, I sat down to watch the second cinematic interpretation of Richard Matheson’s classic tale, I Am Legend, titled The Omega Man, this time out, and starring Charlton Heston as Robert Neville.
Neville is an army doctor, who is trying to find the cure to a plague that wiped out most of humanity, while turning the survivors into some pale-skinned, monk-robed, religious zealots. This time, the plague was caused by humanity itself!
This one, you can tell right from the film’s opening, has not aged well at all, while it’s predecessor starring Vincent Price can be seen as a classic, this one, is pretty close to actually embarrassing. It looks hokey, and has a post-60s swinging soundtrack that truly doesn’t do the film any favors at all. In fact, it almost seems to be the score for a completely different film.
Neville has set himself up in a rather cozy apartment with everything he needs, and seems to wander the city endlessly, battling his own encroaching madness. He drives about, sits in theatres to watch movies, and only locks himself away at night, when the fiendish monks come out, as they are adverse to the light. Leading this Family, is Anthony Zerbe, Matthias, who was a newscaster before the plague hit, but has now established himself as the head of the entire show.
The Family wants him dead, but despite knowing where he is, they don’t seem to be doing much about it, except trying to look menacing.
And despite the implication of the word, Omega, in the title, Neville very much is not the last man. In fact he meets a number of other survivors, including Lisa (Rosalind Cash) and Dutch (Paul Koslo) who are looking after a collection of children, all of who are infected, and may soon succumb to the plague and join the Family. But Neville may hold the key to saving the entire human race… he injected himself with a trial serum, that had been developed right before he was struck by the plague, and he is now immune. He could save everyone!
The Family doesn’t want anyone but them to survive, and slowly work to eliminate any and all humans left… Who will survive?
This one just doesn’t work. I’ve never been the biggest Heston fan, and this one certainly didn’t sway me of that opinion. This incarnation of the story was dull, and completely uninvolving. There was, at no point, a moment when I cared for any of the characters. If this is what humanity had become by the time the plague hit, cardboard and one-dimensional, then we didn’t deserve to survive. Right now, I’d say stick with the first film, and skip this one.
But there’s one more version coming up…