The Last Man on Earth – USA, 1964

The Last Man on Earth (Italian: L’ultimo uomo della Terra) is a 1964 science fiction horror film based on the Richard Matheson 1954 novel I Am Legend. The film was directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow, and stars Vincent Price. The script was written in part by Matheson, but he was dissatisfied with the result and chose to be credited as “Logan Swanson”. William Leicester, Furio M. Monetti, and Ubaldo Ragona were the other writers.

Plot:

In the year 1968, every day is the same for Dr. Robert Morgan (Price): he wakes up, gathers his weapons and then goes hunting for vampires. Morgan lives in a world where everyone else has been infected by a plague that has turned them into undead, vampiric creatures that cannot stand sunlight, fear mirrors, and are repelled by garlic. They would kill Morgan if they could, but fortunately, they are weak and unintelligent. At night, Morgan locks himself inside his house; during the day, he kills as many vampires as he can, burning the bodies.

A flashback sequence explains that, three years before, Morgan’s wife and daughter had succumbed to the plague, before it was widely known by the public that the dead would return to life. Instead of taking his wife to the same public burn pit used to dispose of his daughter’s corpse, Morgan buried her without the knowledge of the authorities.

When his wife returned to his home and attacked him, Morgan became aware of the need to kill the plague victims with a wooden stake. Morgan hypothesises that he is immune to the bacteria because he was bitten by an infected vampire bat when he was stationed in Panama, which introduced a diluted form of the plague into his blood…

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Reviews:

“Franco Delli Colli’s eerie black and white photography is an asset in keeping the film very stark and atmospheric and even documentary-like at times. In particular, the opening scenes of a dead urban world are extremely chilling (especially the church sign: The End Has Come!). Also, the scenes with Vincent Price driving through the deserted streets are particularly well done.” DVD Drive-In

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