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The Omega Man (1971)

Cast: Charlton Heston, Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, more...
Director: Boris Sagal, Boris Sagal
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Science Fiction , Disaster Action, Post-Apocalypse, Zombies
Running Time: 98 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

This second film adaptation of Richard Matheson's science-fiction novel I Am Legend (the first version being The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price) unfolds in a post-apocalyptic 1976. Charlton Heston is Robert Neville, the sole recipient of a serum that enabled him to survive an onslaught of germ warfare between Russia and China - which seemingly rendered him the last (normal) human alive. Neville lives in a garish, antique-strewn L.A. penthouse. During the day, he roams through the vacant city. At night, he fends off a bloodthirsty horde of mutant scavengers garbed in Spanish inquisition robes and sunglasses, led by Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), a former television newscaster in his good ol' pre-mutant days. Matthias and his half-human vampires want to kill Neville. Neville's last man on earth status is shattered when he comes across a group of young people, presided over by the sexy and cynical Lisa (Rosalind Cash). Neville begins to form an interest in her, as the two try to keep Matthias and his minions at bay. The Omega Man was filmed in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday afternoons, an area that consists almost exclusively of office buildings, and therefore was suitably vacant at the the time of production. In 2007, Matheson's novel received yet another incarnation - this one with Will Smith in the Heston role. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Introduction by co-stars Eric Laneuville and paul Koslo, and Screenwriter Joyce H. Corrington
  • Vintage Documentary The Last Man Alive - The Omega Man
  • Charlton Heston Sci-Fi Movies Essay
  • Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

Leaving Well-meaning Enough Alone by RJones3 August 21, 2008 - 1:30 PM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
A century of psychoanalysis, whatever intrinsic merit it may have, has taught us at least that no cultural artifact is without significance, even science fiction. In my formative years I was very much taken with the genre, till I came to realize that it was as culturally shallow as I was myself. Which brings me to this tour de force starring Charlton Heston as the latter-day savior of mankind. For those who do not care to think much about it, the movie has its share of thrilling moments. I offer only one observation as a starting point for analysis. After wandering about a remarkably empty Los Angeles in the opening shots, our hero decides to amuse himself with a movie at a local theater. The movie is Woodstock, documenting an event that occurred only two or three years before the release of Omega Man. The scene sets the stage for the bad guys of the movie in question. They are victims not of the cold war, but of biological warfare between two Communist nations, which has left them scarred both physically and mentally. Self-professed barbarians, they urge the values of community ("the family") against the highbrow culture of the good doctor in the splendid isolation of his penthouse. The problem of communication is insurmountable.

In the Wake of the Sixties by ABetterton September 10, 2003 - 10:44 AM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I'd argue that Omega Man is, in a peculiar sense, one of the most significant and representative Hollywood films of its decade. Not because it's a good film, by any conventional measure, but because it's a fascinating allegory of American society after the various social changes of the 1960s. In fact, it opens with a wistful Charlton Heston watching Woodstock in an abandonded movie theater. (An odd juxtaposition, indeed!) It seems that Heston is the last man on Earth who hasn't been killed or turned into a zombie by bio-chemical warfare. More particularly, he's the last white male authority figure, a fact that isn't lost on the cult of Luddite zombies that gather outside his apartment every night to attack him with catapults as he plays chess and listens to classical music. But Heston isn't just an authority figure; he's also an individualist and, therefore, a hip counterculture rebel, in his own stilted way. To prove it he helps out a group of scruffy kids who've also escaped the zombie plague, even going so far to as to sleep with a tough-talking Angela Davis lookalike. Working with and through our society's contradictory ideas about authority, rebellion, and conformity, the film ends with some corny symbolism suggesting that, even once he's gone, there will always be a little bit of Charlton Heston in all of us. Watch it with Billy Jack for a truly perverse and confused counterculture double feature.

Read I Am Legend instead by ColonelKong August 10, 2003 - 6:56 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
The Omega Man is an ok 70s tv movie-style apocalypse movie with a sometimes-amusing Chuck Heston performance, some nice shots of deserted LA streets, and some catchy (albeit wildly inappropriate) 70s music, but it's really pretty mediocre stuff compared to any of George Romero's Dead films (ok, to be fair, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead hadn't been made yet in 1972) or to 28 Days Later. It's pretty loosely based on Richard Matheson's much better novel I Am Legend, and this is one of many cases in which you're better off reading the book. It might have been a better film if they had gotten Matheson to write the script, as he's done for several other films based on his books. I've yet to see the other I Am Legend film adaptation, 1964's The Last Man on Earth, but from reading about it, it sounds like it's a lot more faithful to I Am Legend than The Omega Man is. Fidelity to a novel doesn't necessarily make for a good film, but I was disappointed that The Omega Man took about 95% of what made I Am Legend a great book and threw it out the window. (Since I Am Legend was written in 1954, it obviously doesn't have scene where Neville is watching Woodstock in a deserted theater!)

It might have been a more interesting film if there had been some kind of signifigant conflict between Neville and the human survivors he meets, and if the zombielike bad guys weren't pontificating buffoons, compared to George Romero's zombies or to the vampires in I Am Legend, they came across like villians out of an Ed Wood movie.

I can think of much worse ways to spend about 90 minutes, but there's much better apocalypse and zombie movies out there.

PS, I wouldn't hold my breath for that Ridley Scott-directed I Am Legend movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. :)

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.37)
153 Votes
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