The Last Man on Earth Reviews
Despite capturing the isolation of our protagonist's situation well, heightened by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter's excellent score, the film lacks tension as Morgan battles vampiric zombies and the lengthy flashback sequence doesn't achieve what it sets out to do - we simply don't care for these characters. This US/Italian co-production wasn't a box office success at the time of release, but has achieved a loyal following since. It influenced George A. Romero's classic 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968) and was remade in 1971 as 'The Omega Man' and as 'I Am Legend' in 2007.
This is the first adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel "I Am Legend", and I reckon itīs not that bad, even if itīs obviously more of a low budget vehicle. Vincent Price manages to communicate the hopelessness of believing he is the last man on earth. What is kind of funny is how "harmless" the vampires are more or less, they donīt really feel threatening or scary. That makes the film lose a bit in that department. However, my favourite adaptation of this story is by far the Charlton Heston version "The Omega Man". That is a great movie, despite its flaws. Still, it was nice to see this version.
Since The Last Man On Earth is a dated film so it's visual qualities are fairly rough, the story has to be tired together by a strong performance. Luckily, Vincent Price is the man to supply that performance which enhances the atmosphere due to his iconic voice and his talent as a leading screen actor. He manages to keep a grip on all the drama and give a strong line delivery which keeps the viewing experience stimulating, and he is surely the highlight of The Last Man On Earth. He makes the story stay interesting, even though within a timeframe of less than 90 minutes it tries to fit everything in and neglects explaining much of the importance in the latter half of the story which leaves things confusing.
But The Last Man on Earth is well scripted with a strong musical score and sense of intensity due to its visual style, even if it is dated and a very simple adaptation of the original story I Am Legend. It does explore important themes and ideas of humanity and is a strong character study of its figure Robert Neville, and what it is to be the final man on earth in such a haunting situation. It plays on Vincent Price's reputation for good horror films well and is entertaining throughout even if it could have used more money to explore its concept futher. Essentially, although The Last Man on Earth isn't as exploring of its concept as some of its later adaptations, but it's the one that's the most focused in horror and features the genial presence of Vincent Price in a fine performance.
The Last Man on Earth has great acting by Vincent Price, even if his acting is a little awkward at times, but for the most part, he did a great job at portraying a lonely man in a frightening, somber world. The atmosphere for this world great, and the first fifteen or so minutes set it up brilliantly, using chilling shots of an empty city. However, the greatness stops there, because once night hits and these infected vampire-like creatures swarm Dr. Morgan's house, the film becomes quite ridiculous and even laughably bad. It took me out of the film considering I was gripped for the first fifteen minutes, but although these creatures are supposed to be weak and unintelligent, the way they were shown was downright bad. The nature of these creatures are also a bit confusing, as they seem more like a mix of a vampire and a zombie. Thankfully, they don't have nearly as much screen time as Vincent Price, who is really the highlighting point of this film.
However, around the middle, a series of flashbacks show how Earth ended up in this current state through the events that led up to it, and unfortunately, supporting characters are introduced and are very unevenly acted, making Vincent Price oddly seem out of place. Lots of the emotional impact that this film could've had is unfortunately lost within the supporting cast's talents, but the flashbacks are interesting enough to forgive the faults. I also oddly feel like Vincent Price's character as Robert Morgan is both deep and one-dimensional, because although many of his scenes show his emptiness and isolation effectively as a person, he doesn't have too many layers to his character. At least he's acted well, and he's probably the best thing to come out of this film. Thankfully, the atmosphere throughout the movie still feels very grim, and there's always a sense that something isn't right. The ending is also great, and confirms that this film really isn't a feel-good one. The Last Man on Earth presents some very good ideas and is well-intentioned, and for the most part, it stays as an interesting, eerie film.
It sounds like I wasn't fond of The Last Man on Earth, but in reality, I did find myself enjoying this film more times than not. It could've been a lot better, yes, and the production isn't the best, but it deserves praise because it's effective, and it works as great entertainment. It's an overall uneven success, and sometimes its a nightmarish world but at other times it borders downright ridiculous, but I'm giving this a positive review because this is recommendable as both an eerie film and great entertainment, although this was close to a negative review. It doesn't dig deep all too far in its narrative, but its an effective and convincing portrayal of a scenario like this. Whether this review makes it sound bad or not, The Last Man on Earth is still worth at least checking out, and I'm glad I didn't dismiss it.
Key scenes include the burning pit to which Price takes his Vampire victims, Vincent Price trying to play it cool while being totally scared, reclined on his couch, and an end that includes an angry mob. Great flick!