The Last Man on Earth

Year: 1964

Production: La Regina / Alta Vista

Director: Sidney Salkow

Starring: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Tony Cerevi

Screenwriter: Richard Matheson

Based on I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson

86 minutes; B/W

This Italian/US co-production was the first film version of Matheson's novel about the lone survivor of a plague whose victims become vampires, a metamorphosis for which the novel, unlike the film, provides an ingenious medical explanation. Each night the survivor is besieged in his house by "vampires", and each day he kills as many as he can while they sleep. Finally, however, they succeed in trapping and killing him. The film has a reputation as being dreadful, but arguably it captures the brutalization of its hero in the human world's last gasp better than the remake, The Omega Man (1971), and it is certainly truer to the novel. The film truest to the novel's spirit, though with a different plot, is Night of the Living Dead (1968).

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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