Review by: Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I’ve always been a little hesitant to check out Charlton Heston’s post-Planet of the Apes flicks, but after reading an interview with techno don Robert Hood, who declared The Omega Man as life changing and who even created an imagined soundtrack for the movie, I just had to check it out. Despite Heston’s rather suspect political views in the 70s and 80s, I now realize I’d been missing out on a great movie.
The plot of The Omega Man should be familiar to present-day viewers, as it’s the second adaption of the novel, I Am Legend, with the third and most recent adaptation being the Will Smith vehicle of the same name, which was released in 2007. The first film adaptation of the novel was The Last Man on Earth (1964), starring horror great Vincent Price. There are slight differences between the films and the novel, so I guess it’s best to check out all three (I haven’t done so myself, but certainly intend to).
In The Omega Man though, Heston plays Neville, an ex-army colonel who believes he’s the last man alive in a post-apocalyptic world driven to extinction by a plague-like disease unleashed by a biological war between the Soviet Union and China.
As a science researcher in the army, Neville and his team develops a vaccine against the plague, and manages to inject himself with the vaccine just before getting infected. The rest of the human population is not so lucky, and as the “last man standing”, Neville spends the next three years in a very dead Los Angeles, taking whatever he needs from deserted shopping malls, and occasionally watching re-runs of the Woodstock concert in a moldy old cinema.
At sundown though, Neville makes for his heavily-fortified house, as there are half-dead mutants roaming around the city. Calling themselves The Family, these albinos have been mutated by the plague and are determined to rid the world of Neville, who they view as the last vestige everything that went wrong with the old world. Neville battles against The Family, and soon meets other survivors…
The star of The Omega Man is of course, Heston, but the supporting cast, particularly his badass lover/partner Lisa (Rosalind Cash) and the head of The Family, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), are equally great. Director Boris Sagal, worked on The Omega Man before moving into television, and producer Walter Seltzer once again worked with Heston in the classic sci-fi freakout Soylent Green (1973), which is highly recommended (and a very disturbing movie).
The Omega Man is available on Blu-ray. For soundtrack lovers, do note that the OST Ron Grainer was recently repressed — grab a copy before they disappear. And if you’re into electronic music, do yourself a favour and buy a copy of Robert Hood’s version.