Before Will Smith's I Am Legend (2007) and Charlton Heston's The Omega Man (1971), there was Vincent Price's The Last Man On Earth (1964). While latter screen adaptations of Richard Matheson's novel featured bigger budgets, this Sidney Salkow/Ubaldo Ragona film stays closer to the source. Although its limited budget, its dated horror conventions, and the rewriting of Matheson's original script prevented it from attaining “classic” status, the film is still quite watchable, mainly on the strength of Price's acting. In retaining the existential features of I Am Legend (the lone survivor narrative, disease-induced zombie apocolypse, etc.) The Last Man On Earth sets the blueprint for future horror and sci-fi films (the opening scene, where the vampire/zombies attempt to break into Morgan's home is cinematically copied in Night of the Living Dead).
In the Library:
- Matheson, Richard. 1954. I am legend. Cutchogue, N.Y.: Buccaneer Books. [link: WorldCat]
- Morgan, Jack. 2002. The biology of horror: Gothic literature and film. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. [link: NetLibrary]
- Price, Vincent. 1959. I like what I know; a visual autobiography. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.[link: WorldCat]
On the Web: