The Omega Man (1971)

As Earth is on the verge of another world war between China and Russia, an accidental missile firing unleashes a potent chemical weapon agent across the globe.  People start succumbing to this deadly diease minutes after contracting the virus; it is a new world plague.  Army doctor Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) is working on a cure and thinks he has found it, but as he is taking the vaccine to the lab to be tested, his helicopter pilot crokes and the chopper crashes.  If that wasn’t bad enough, now he has been exposed to the virus and takes a chance and injects himself with his test vaccine.

He must have know what he was doing, because it is three years later and he is still upright.  He’s the last human left in Los Angeles, and maybe the world.  What do you do with all that free time?  He spends his days foraging for food, watching some flicks, playing chess with a bronze bust and trying to kill a group of infected crazies!  While he is the last human left alive, he isn’t the only one around; there is a group of nocturnal freaks calling themselves The Family, who are hell-bent on destroying the symbols of the old world that lead to the demise of the planet… and Robert Neville is the last thing standing in their way.  They set traps for him and try to break into his well fortified townhouse, but to no avail; old Moses is too slick for these fools.

One day while looking for some new threads and macking on a nice-looking mannequin, he stumbles upon a fine soul sister, but she gives him the slip.  He isn’t sure if she exists or if he is just loosing his shit.  He continues to look for The Family’s nest, and gets shanghaied in a wine cellar and captured.  He is brought before Matthias, the leader of The Family, and sentenced to death.  They take him to a stadium to set him ablaze, but the lights come on and the light-sensitive freaks scatter.  Robert is cut loose of his bonds by a nice bare-chested lad and lead to the chick he saw before.  They escape, and he is taken to a building outside of the city where there are more survivors, mostly children.  While the group is infected with the virus, they have not yet died or been turned into the mutated crazies.  His new lady friend, Lisa, has a brother,Richie, who is not well off and is getting ready to turn into a freak at any moment.  Neville takes the two of them back to his place to try to create a vaccine from his own blood.  Lisa is grateful, and while Neville doesn’t have the virus, he does have a fever. JUNGLE FEVER!  He puts it to his new Nubian princess and now they are all boyfriend/ girlfriend, and are already making plans to leave the city together.

Lisa’s little bro eventually heals up and Neville plans to use the vaccine on the rest of the group, but not offer it to The Family, on account of them always trying to murder him and all.  Richie doesn’t approve, and sneaks off to see if Matthias would be willing to treat and save his followers.  The short answer to that is ‘no’, and Neville finds out when he goes to look for Richie and finds him with a mild case of death.  He returns home to find that Lisa has turned into a freak and has invited the rest of The Family in for a party.  As Neville escapes to the street with Lisa in-tow, Matthias chucks a spear into Neville tender parts leaving him to bleed to death.  The next morning the survivors show up, and a dying Neville gives them a bottle of the vaccine and tells them to help his traitor bitch of a girlfriend.  With no explanation of how much of the drug to administer, we assume things did not go well for them.

Alex’s Thoughts:  This flick was based on the book I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson;  and while it’s a lot closer to the events of the book than that piece of crap Will Smith movie of the same name, the plot is still pretty far off.  The events of this movie were switched to be more in-line with the events of the early 1970’s, so it is very much a product of its time.  Young viewers might not appreciate it for what it is, as it appears to be dated and really shows its 40-year-old age.  If you can try to ignore the effects and the awful jive lingo obviously written by a well-off white person, it’s message still comes through today.  If you like Matheson’s story (which I don’t know anyone who has read it and doesn’t), you should find his message loud and clear in this movie.  Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: This movie, while well acted (for the most part) and not poorly shot, is not very good. The villains are hokey monsters in bad sunglasses and crappy contacts, and the character Lisa is such a sad attempt at a female black panther it’s offensive. It does manage to capture a few of the elements of the original story, but the appearance of the “monsters” quickly shatters any illusions that you are watching anything good. Heston’s performance while he’s alone is really well done, and reminds you that he was actually a really good actor, but these moments are brief, and completely lacking in the last half of the movie.  Now that I think about it, it’s very similar to Will Smith’s I am Legend, in the way that the strength of the movie is the main character’s struggle with being alone, and once other elements are introduced the movie spirals into garbage very quickly. Skip all other imitators and watch Last Man On Earth starring the late great Vincent Price. Matheson hated the script (he helped write), and hated the directing, but this is the closest you will get to a true representation of the original story. Plus it also shows off how talented Price was, not to mention it spares us the stupid Christ reference at the end of Omega Man. Barf. Tim Rates This Movie 3/10

“Is this how it starts? A trip to the laughing academy? No, you silly bastard, it starts with you asking yourself silly questions”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue