Today I’m rating the 1964 film The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, and practically nobody else. I say that because Price’s character, Dr. Robert Morgan, is the sole survivor of a sort of apocalypse that has turned everybody else on Earth into vampires, leaving him as the only human.
Everyday, Dr. Morgan has to go out in the daylight hours to collect the things he needs to live–gasoline, canned food, as well as objects to keep away the vampires at night, such as garlic and mirrors. He’s also systematically searching the area around him for where the vampires hide during the day, hoping to find them and burn their bodies when they’re helpless. At night, he has trouble sleeping as the vampires assault his home (weakly–they’re actually rather zombie-like vampires, with little bodily strength, and dangerous only in their massed numbers). It’s been three years since the apocalypse began, and life for Dr. Morgan has become rather tedious, until one day he discovers a sign that there may be other humans still alive….
Unfortunately, this was not a very good movie. In fact, it was terrible. It was based on the 1954 novel I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the script but was so disenchanted with the final project he insisted the script be credited to a pseudonym. (The novel was also the basis for the Omega Man (1971) and I am Legend (2007) movies–not sure why what by all accounts is a good book should result in so many awful films.)
Let’s do the rating:
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964)
Story/Plot/Characters–The main problem is the poor pacing. It’s so slow-paced, and not in a way that builds up tension, just boring. I suppose Vincent Price’s acting is good, but since he hardly interacts with anybody else it’s not put to much use. Flashbacks are placed awkwardly. (1 point)
Special Effects–Low-budget, but doesn’t even take advantage of what it might have done well. A film full of vampires, but with little more than a smear of make-up to indicate that. Hardly any effort put into it. (0 points)
Scariness–Not at all. (0 points)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–The one thing the movie manages to even approach doing correctly. There are some fairly effective scenes with abandoned housing estates, shopping areas, and churches, establishing just how isolated and lonely Dr. Morgan’s world is. (1 point)
Oh my, the lowest-rated movie I’ve covered yet.