Welcome to Psycho Drive-In’s 31 Days of Schlocktober celebration! This year we’ve decided to present the ABCs of Horror, with entries every day this month providing Director information, Best-of lists, Genre overviews, and Reviews of films and franchises, all in alphabetical order! Today brings us L is for Last Man on Earth! It all began with a book written by Richard Matheson in 1954 titled I Am Legend. Although featuring vampires that are active during the night and repelled by garlic, mirrors, and crosses, I Am Legend is credited as the first book to popularize what would become the zombie genre and the concept of a worldwide apocalypse. Just like people can argue that marijuana is the gateway to drugs, the 1964 horror film The Last Man on Earth, the first adaptation of I Am Legend, could arguably be called the gateway to modern horror movies. Compared to other horror movies, The Last Man on Earth falls short on the “scare factor” that we are used to today. The movie has a slow beginning — we see the main character, Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price), go about his normal day trying to find the hiding places of the vampires and collecting supplies — and a quarter of the film is dedicated to flashbacks of Morgan and his family before the bacteria turned all those infected into vampires. Some of the slowness could be a factor of the script used. Richard Matheson himself originally wrote the screenplay, but the script was deemed “too horrible” for motion pictures. The script was rewritten by Furio M. Monetti, Ubaldo Ragona, and William F. Leicester, but Matheson complained the new script wasn’t faithful to the book. Matheson did end up crediting his name on the script, but under his pen name Logan Swanson. The blood and gore fight scenes we’re used to today come much later in the film. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD After the three-quarter mark in the movie, we are suddenly introduced to a woman named Ruth (Franca Bettoia). Morgan takes her in, and she doesn’t appear to be infected, but after thrusting garlic in her face, to which she violently recoils, and walking in on her attempting to inject herself with something, Morgan discovers she is in fact infected. Ruth explains that she is part of a group of infected vampires that have learned to suppress the bacteria for short periods of time. She warns Morgan that her group is coming to kill him. Morgan injects Ruth with some of his blood and discovers that his blood acts as the cure to the bacteria. But it’s too late; the vampires have come to kill Morgan. Morgan flees to a nearby church where he attains a gun and teargas to fend off the vampires. He is wounded by a gunshot, however, and is surrounded by the vampires at the altar. He is impaled with a spear and with his dying breath, declares he is truly “the last man on Earth.” In the book, however, Morgan (Robert Neville in the book) realizes that to this new species, he is as much of a legend to them as they were once to him, and thinks “[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.” George A. Romero, director of a little film called Night of the Living Dead, admitted that he “basically ripped [it] off from a Richard Matheson novel called I Am Legend.” The Last Man on Earth had such a lasting impact on the film industry that it has been remade, not once, not twice, but THREE times. The first remake was in 1971, titled The Omega Man and starred Charleton Heston. The second remake, I Am Legend, starring Will Smith and released in 2007. The third, I Am Omega, was also released in 2007 as a direct to video release by the infamous production company, The Asylum. If you’re looking for a gory and violent horror film, this one won’t be for you. But if you want to watch the movie that inspired half a century of other movies, check out The Last Man on Earth. In fact, here’s the entire film, so you can do just that. Enjoy! See larger image The Vincent Price Collection II [House on Haunted Hill, The Return of the Fly, The Comedy of Terrors, The Raven, The Last Man on Earth, Tomb of Ligeia & Dr. Phibes Rises Again) [Blu-ray] New From: $48.29 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses ABCs of Horror Day 31: Z is for Zombies - Psycho Drive-In November 10, 2014 […] to be mentioned: Ubaldo Ragona’s The Last Man on Earth (1964) — which we already covered here — and John Gilling’s The Plague of the Zombies (1966) — covered here. Both feature […] Log in to Reply ABCs of Horror Day 22: R is for Romero - Psycho Drive-In March 30, 2015 […] coming back from the dead to eat the living. Inspired thematically and visually by the classic Last Man on Earth, Night of the Living Dead was released on October 1, 1968 and signaled a seismic shift in the […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.