Friday, September 01, 2006

What's on the iPod? - The Last Man on Earth

I've always thought The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price must have provided a bit of inspiration for George A. Romero as he prepped Night of the Living Dead.

The two came out only a few years apart then went on to extensive late-night TV re-runs.

The Price film, the first movie adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, features scenes of shambling vampires menacing Price in a boarded up house, and they look a lot like the ghouls converging on the farmhouse in NOTLD.

The films diverge from there and NOTLD probably has a higher scare quotient, but I've always had a bit of affection for Last Man's moodiness.

I like it better than the other adaptation, The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, even though its take on the vampires is interesting, especially with Anthony Zerbe as their leader.

I'm looking forward to the next adaptation allegedly due in 2007. I've lost track of who it's allegedly starring now.

Free - Vampires - Free
Last Man is an essentially Italian film. Apparently it was going to be a Hammer Film and would have been shot, no doubt, in lurid color, but they passed. It is for one reason or another in the public domain and is thus available for free download at Archive.org. They have iPod ready versions . By the way, if you run an Mpeg4 through Videora, it really screws up the soundtrack. I don't recommend it.

Vincent the Vampire Slayer
As mentioned, the film involves Vincent Price as Robert Morgan--marginally an action hero!?- being menanced by vampires. He's the lone survivor of a plague that's turned everyone into bloodsucking freaks.

He hides out in his bachelor pad at night and spends his days staking vampires. He just can't seem to find his old friend who's turned and keeps coming back to get annoy him. He's that kind of friend.

There's a long, somewhat slow flashback at the center detailing the disease's course and Morgan's hopeless efforts to protect his family, but the beginning and the action-adventure ending make up for that.

After the flasshback, he befriends a poodle, meets a woman--not a swinging '70s African American woman like Charlton Heston--but a woman who's not a vampire yet.

There are visually interesting scenes of black clad pursuers--fortunate that they color-cooridnated--tracking Vincent/Morgan through a church as the climax arrives right along with the thematic meditations on morality in a world turned upside down.

It's made darker and thus scarier by its black-and-white stock.

Check it out if you have a few gigabytes free. It's got its scares, and it's got Vincent Price.

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2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've only seen the Omega Man version, which I liked pretty well. I've read the book, too, which is by Richard Matheson. It's very good. Since this one is free I may have to download it. I still don't have an Ipod, though. Man the world is passing me by.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Last summer I went through a Vincent Price phase and watched: "The Abominable Dr. Phibes", "Theater of Death", "The House on Haunted Hill", and "The Pit and the Pendulum". At the time I had never seen "The Last Man on Earth".

Released in 1964, it had to serve as inspiration for Romero. Anyone who loves the Romero work owes it to himself or herself to check this one out. You'll be amazed at the camerawork, the story elements, and the feel of the picture that Romero would later parallel. Remember, 1964, there weren't that many films being produced in black and white. Perhaps the choice was budgetary, but I prefer to believe the decision to go that route, for both Romero and for the director of Price's film, was instead dictate by style.

Thanks for recalling this Sid.

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