Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Last Man On Earth

Vincent Price stars as the titular character, last man standing now that a strange virus has left the entire world either dead or turned into weird vampire/zombie creatures. Price has to strive hard every day to stay alive, stay sane, and do what he can to kill as many of the monsters as possible.

Although not quite the classic its reputation had lead me to believe it would be, The Last Man On Earth is a reasonably entertaining horror flick that, if nothing else, is a lot more bleak than I was expecting, given the star and the era. The high points of the film for me were an extended flashback of how the world came to an end that captures an appropriately fatalistic tone, and the abrupt, violent, unexpected final scene.

The other real plus is that, against all odds, it makes Price into something of a badass. He's still a little feminine and mincing, but he gets to show his dark side, and also gets to kick a reasonable amount of ass (even getting to chuck a bunch of pipe bombs around during the finale).

The main problem with the film is that I was unimpressed with its direction. I wasn't taking notes or anything while watching it, so forgive me if I'm not sufficiently descriptive here, but the staging is often dull and ineffective. Price is constantly fighting off hoards of monsters, trying to keep them out of his house, and the filmmakers present it with all the enthusiasm of a sleepwalker. I've seen slap fights between preschoolers that were more exciting, desperate life-or-death struggles than the action scenes in this film. (Apparently I watch preschoolers a lot?)

I have not seen the Charlton Heston version of this story, The Omega Man, but I did see and greatly enjoy the Will Smith I Am Legend a few years back, and I'm going to say that it's the superior adaptation.

Grade: B-

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