The Omega Man, Charlton Heston in a film based on the novel I Am Legend. Yes, the same I Am Legend which was adapted into the Will Smith movie (it was also previously adapted into a movie called The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price).
This movie was… well… weak. There are quite a few spoilers here, because I have no qualms about ruining this movie for anyone. Read on at your own risk.
Let’s see, where to begin. Well, for one, the USA wasn’t in any way responsible for the in-film catastrophe that wiped out human existence as we know it. It was, for some inexplicable reason, the Soviet Union fighting against the People’s Republic of China. The movie came out in 1971, and with all of the terrifyingly likely scenarios for humans to attack one another with germ warfare in the early 70’s, they come up with an absurdly unlikely one, just to absolve poor little America of any shred of guilt. WTF?
Anyway, the germ warfare impacts the US, and kills almost the entire population. Everyone else is turned into a bunch of pale assholes who burn shit all the time. Why did everyone who didn’t die turn into a bunch of pale assholes? Meh, that’s never really explained, the plague just did that. It’s just the way things go in a world where Communists abandon thier war against the free market to wage an inexplicable war against each other.
Robert Neville is alone as an uninfected man living in Los Angeles. He’s a doctor who was able to inoculate himself just in time to save his own life. The pale assholes, who are also a cult known as “The Family,” REALLY hate Neville. They keep trying to kill him and/or burn his house down.
At one point, they catch him and try to burn him at Dodger Stadium, only to be thwarted when it turns out Neville isn’t the last living non-asshole around. Well, actually Neville is kind of an asshole too. So, it turns out he isn’t the only non-pale living person in LA. I like Dodger Stadium, so, it had that going for it.
Heston has to do an awful lot of acting on his own, carrying whole scenes with no supporting cast, talking to himself as he attempts to retain his sanity. Will Smith had to do the same thing in I Am Legend, but Smith is a much more capable actor than Heston was. And, speaking of the Will Smith movie, it’s pretty fascinating reading the plots of the various versions on wikipedia. They are so loosely based on the original novel. Each film changes so much in the adaptation process, much more than normal.
The very worst part of the film was the atrocious Christ imagery that seemed to come out of nowhere at the end. He dies, because the leader of the pale assholes throws a spear from a two story window on the other side of the street and lands a perfect shot to our boy Neville. Neville survives the night and his new friends arrive in time to take a jar of his blood, which is the only cure for the plague, as Heston slumps down into a Christ pose and dies. I was literally unable to stop myself from audibly complaining, “Oh my God! You’ve got to be shitting me.”
Lazy writing, attempts at grandiosity that wind up absurd, confused attempts to make points about humanity; this movie is a cocktail of all the worst parts of bad science fiction.