Cast and Crew: Samuel Z. Arkoff (Executive Producer)
What It’s About: Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the sole survivor of a plague that killed most of humanity and turned the “survivors” into blood thirsty vampires…but is he really alone?
Why Watch it Today?: Author Richard Matheson, whose novella I Am Legend formed the basis of not only today’s movie, but also The Omega Man, I Am Legend, and arguably Night of the Living Dead, and thus the entire modern zombie mythology, turns 86 today. Each of the various adaptations of Matheson’s novella builds on the last, and each diverges wildly from its source, but in many ways this first adaptation is closest to the book. It also happens to be the one that terrified me as a kid, and it gives Vincent Price a chance to play something besides the overblown madmen that made up the bulk of his film roles.
The spoiler heavy (but magnificently narrated) trailer:
Other Choices: You could watch The Legend of Hell House, the excellent haunting movie based on a novel by Matheson.
Still my favorite adaption of the novel, more for being closer to the book in tone than any specifics of plot or location (these days, whenever I show it to people, I have to remind them that, yes, white folks still lived in Compton back in the early 60s). The best part of the story, for me, was always the creeping dread of perfect isolation, and watching the effects of that on our poor protagonist’s remains of a mind. It’s a cautionary tale about the atomized self for a post-Man in the Grey Flannel Suit world. With vampires/zombies/ghouls/whatever-the-heck you want to call them. They certainly give most modern representations of the Night Creature a run for their money.
Reading the novel ruined this one for me a bit, I think, but the fact that ti’s the only one I own probably says all you need to know about it’s standing as far as the adaptations go. Though for pure camp/comedy value it’s hard to beat The Omega Man.