The first adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, this
low-budget "spagetti horror" film is a forerunner to George Romero's
NIGHT OF THE
LIVING DEAD. Vincent Price plays Dr. Robert
a scientist who has survived a mysterious plague that has felled
everyone around him. Those who were infected are either dead
have become vampires. Slow moving, slow-witted vampires, but vampires
just the same.
For a low-budget, dubbed Robert L. Lippert quickie*, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is often effective scary. The establishing shots of a world without people may even be more convincing than similar ones in Boris Sagal's THE OMEGA MAN, the 1971 take on Matheson's novel. The vampires that come out at night are so much like Romero's slow-moving zombies, it seems highly likely that Romero took his inspiration not only from the book but also from this film. Take the planks of wood out of their hands and remove their power of speech and they are Romero zombies.
Vincent Price, with his debonair ways,
was not an
action hero, as he proves in this film any time he needs to do anything
more strenuous beyond changing the jazz records on his turntable.
Aside from that, he is rather good as our
hope for humanity.
Consider this: THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is a film where Vincent Price plays the only normal person in the cast. That's gotta be worth a look. - JB
* Robert L. Lippert was one of Hollywood's most prolific producers, known, like Roger Corman, for pumping out cheap movies quickly. A man whose name is known to most fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Lippert made a great deal of bad movies, but also many highly entertaining ones.