The Last Man on Earth

Year: 1964
Production Co: Associated Producers
Director: Ubaldo B Ragona
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Vincent Price
The first major iteration of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend appears to have been financed and produced - certainly majority crewed - by Italians.

Matheson actually contributed to the script as well, but invented the name 'Logan Swanson' to attach as screenwriter because he was dissatisfied with the final result.

Watching the film - and with no idea how old the book was - I would have guessed it was shot in the mid 1930s except for star Vincent Price's age. The film stock, focus, picture and sound quality are all very shoddy even by mid sixties standards, and while the premise is strong, the aesthetic and script aren't much better.

Price is Robert Morgan (in place of Robert Neville), the apparent sole survivor of a plague that's wiped out the majority of humanity and left the remainder insane killers - actual vampires, in this case, which Morgan keeps away from his door with crosses and garlic.

He's gradually searching for their hive or nest so he can finally be at peace, systematically killing them and throwing them in an enormous pit outside town he keeps continually alight for corpse disposal.

But when he comes across survivor Ruth, he learns of the final enclave of survivors who are succumbing to the plague unusually slowly, and for which he himself may be the cure.

This is an I Am Legend idea with a Zombie Flesh Eaters budget, without even the grandiosity of The Omega Man. Price does his best but he's cut from the Hammer cloth that doesn't really suit the story, and while it's essential viewing if you love the book, it's near the bottom of the heap of products it inspired.

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