Retro-Musings: ’s “The Omega Man”… – Musings of a Middle-Aged Geek
In the case of The Omega Man, I think its credentials should pretty much the mutants can't come out during the day, leaving Neville to prowl around trying . Her relationship with Neville - based loosely on a similar course of. The ending, wherein comes a startling conceptual reversal of the traditional relationship between vampire and hunter, is stunning. Unfortunately, The Omega Man is a ham-fisted adaptation of I Am Legend. For one, the. Retrograde FSM • The Omega Man —Unlimited • Liner Notes . cal material for Neville's romantic relationship with To this end, cues involving.
For one, the vampires have been eliminated and rewritten as mutants, as though vampires were considered too B-movie. They are now construed as a cult who want to destroy all remnants of technology. They certainly cut striking figures in black hoods, sunglasses and with white albinoid faces — but make no sense. The film keeps and expands on the idea from The Last Man on Earth that Neville is a biochemist who created a cure for the plague and inoculated himself.
The film also introduces the Ruth equivalent early in the show — only 30 minutes in — whereas if this were being faithful to the book, she would not appear until the last 30 minutes. Interestingly, it casts her with African-American actress Rosalind Cash — in so doing, making the relationship between her and Charlton Heston one of the first interracial ones seen in a mainstream US film.
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In the early sections of the film, director Boris Sagal does a reasonable job of creating images of isolation as Charlton Heston prowls an empty L. It is not a literal translation of what Richard Matheson wrote but could almost be something straight out of the book. During these scenes, the film gets the spirit of the original spot on. These scenes are modestly effective, although a film like The Quiet Earth does a far better job of portraying the psychological isolation and madness that being the last survivor of the human race would entail.
The film also casts Charlton Heston in square-jawed heroism mode. Instead, we get Heston dressing for dinner in a velvet frock coat and making wisecracks over a chess game with a bust of Caesar. To me, this a betrayal of the book where the last survivor was someone utterly haunted by loneliness.
We do get scenes of the mutants begging Neville to come out but still no corresponding sense of his utter isolation. Alas, The Omega Man loses itself after the introduction of the community of survivors. What we get is very much a fantasy of the hippie era — in particular, the image of Charlton Heston sitting in an abandoned cinema watching and reminiscing over Woodstock There is a certain irony in watching these scenes today — the images of anti-war protestors and hippies celebrating peace and love are almost the complete opposite of the views that Heston adopted in later life as an ardent spokesman for the NRA.
The film is also filled with resonance of Biblical imagery. The first film version of I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth, came a decade later with Vincent Price starring, but the low-budget, Italian-made production was not well received upon release.
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Which, of course, was the kick-off point for the entire zombie genre as we know it today. Hands grasping through boarded up windows are replicated almost to the exact shot, while the bleak ending of Night also tracks with the Price film. And without Night, there would be no Dawn of the Dead, or the scores of zombie films and comics and stories that followed… like The Walking Dead.
But The Omega Man, well… that was a different beast entirely.
Coming just seven years after Last Man on Earth, the film was a full-on Hollywood production, released by Warner Bros. The teeth-gritting star was going through his sci-fi phase at the time, having already done one and a half Planet of the Apes movies before making a stopover in desolate Los Angeles as the Omega Man, and then heading off to discover that Soylent Green is people in The first portion of the film features only Heston, as he tools around an abandoned LA, machine-gunning mutants and watching the same movie over and over and over again.
Retro-Musings: 1971’s “The Omega Man”…
At night, Neville must take refuge in his sweet townhouse, where he keeps an equal mix of weapons and priceless art on hand. That's all you'll need.
That was a concept for some that was perhaps even scarier than vampires at the time.