The Last Man On Earth is a B & W classic starring Vincent Price. It is a dark and depressing movie based on Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. This film has to be the basis for dozens of zombie movies, including the classic Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I debated even watching this movie, much less reviewing it considering the current situation. Yes, it is about a pandemic caused by a devastating and highly contagious microorganism. One that decimates the entire human species.
Dr. Robert Morgan, played brilliantly by the horror movie master Vincent Price, is the last man standing, unaffected by the deadly bacteria that killed all humans save those who have come back as vampires and mutants. He has an immunity because he was bitten by a bat as a child. This movie really hits home when you consider what happened in China late last year and the role that bats continue to play in this current pandemic.
Morgan is alone in a boarded-up house, a house which he only leaves during daylight hours to perform his grisly daily routines. He stakes sleeping vampires, burns their corpses, and collects supplies, like garlic and mirrors, to ward off the others that come at night for him. He is on the edge of madness, having seen all his family and acquaintances succumb to the deadly pandemic. He is lonely and desperate when he discovers an attractive lady wandering around in the daylight, apparently not infected by terrible sickness.
The Last Man On Earth is certainly no masterpiece, and by today’s standards of horror films, is quite tame, and almost silly at times. The monsters were slow, clumsy and inept, and appeared to be more annoying than anything else. What this film really did well was to capture the desolation and hopelessness of the situation. As you might imagine, Vincent Price carried the film and the other actors and actresses just had minor roles.
This film was made on a small budget, and visually it really shows. It is never remotely scary and the ending can easily be characterized and cheesy and unconvincing. The Last Man On Earth is in the public domain and included in things like the Amazon Horror Movie 50 pack, as well as being available to watch at places like YouTube. If you are not depressed enough by the current world pandemic, or just want to see a cult classic that helped start the whole living dead zombie movie genre, give it a watch.
7.0/10.0 for Vincent Price if nothing else.