April 17th, 2011: The Omega Man

Cast and Crew: Paul Koslo, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Eric Laneuville

What It’s About: Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) is the last man on Earth, or so he thinks.  Each day he gathers the supplies that will allow him to survive another night of siege by the Family-the remaining inhabitants of Los Angeles, turned into nocturnal albinos by a biological weapon, and lead by the technology hating Jonathan Matthias (Anthony Zerbe).  Neville is not as alone as he thinks he is, however, and soon he’ll be racing against time to save humanity’s last hope.

Why Watch it Today?: Today is World Hemophilia Day and it wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that blood plays a fairly large role in Neville’s attempt to save humanity.  It’s a bit of stretch, but it is a fun (if not by any measure great) film, one of Heston’s late 1960s/early 1970s dystopian sci-fi films, and the second adaptation of Richard Matheson’s groundbreaking, highly influential novella I Am Legend.  In many ways this is the least faithful, most outlandish, and cheesiest adaptation of the book. The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price was the most literally faithful (but also the most cheaply made and dullest) while the most recent adaptation with Will Smith is the loudest and most conventional (and thus it has the happiest ending).  Each adaptation chose to keep different elements of Matheson’s novella according to the fashion at the time and who was making it. 

Omega Man is a full-bore Heston teeth clenching actiony science fiction dystopia film crossbred with a little of the then en vogue counter-culture and blaxploitation exploitation films and some then-current references to Charles Manson (a “Family” lead by a charismatic madman with a vision for the end times).  The mix doesn’t always work, Heston’s Neville is a bit too Messianic and the sex scenes between him and a much younger Rosalind Cash are downright creepy, but the film is a must see to get certain culture references and for fans of Heston at his Hestoniest, not to mention some high quality goofiness in the form of the albino make up, hooded cloaks and primitive weaponry the family arrays against Heston’s machine guns.

Where to Get ItLibraries, Netflix (Rental Only), iTunes or  Amazon.com

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2 comments on “April 17th, 2011: The Omega Man

  1. Truly Conner says:

    This movie was not a bore then and is not a bore now , And to the so called critics that said it was your a drip of the slowest kind. The only reason you rated it the way you did is because Black people Co- stared in the movie then it became Blackplotation!!!!. This movie was bak in the 70’s so anybody that was a Black actor/actress.you put down as a low budget film. those were the best movies and they still are!!!.

    • professormortis says:

      Boring? That is definitely not something I’d say (or did say) about this film. To be fair, I should not have called this blaxploitation….you are right that the film merely features black actors. I do think that the Heston/Cash scenes are a little creepy-mainly because he is so much older than her, and, well, he’s Heston, I always find his romantic side a little off-putting. Pretty sure I didn’t call this low budget, either, though it was certainly in a period when the studios were in rough shape and cutting corners-and trying new things, or else this likely wouldn’t get made. I do prefer the novel, but I feel like all the adaptations have their own weaknesses. I admit that I find this less compelling and more cheesy than Heston’s other sci-fi dystopia films of the era-Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green, but I’d watch this over I Am Legend any day of the week.

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