Eunice does The Last Man on Earth

“Another day to live through. Better get started.”

The Scoop: 1964 NR, directed by Ubaldo Ragona and starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart

Tagline: By night they leave their graves, crawling, shambling, through empty streets, whimpering, pleading, begging for his blood!

Summary Capsule: A bazillion undead. One human taking it day by day.

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Eunice’s Rating: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…

Eunice’s Review: The first time I saw The Last Man on Earth, I was expecting a cheese-fest. A cheaply made Italian movie that hung on Vincent Price’s name, after he’d started his Roger Corman days, disowned by Matheson who was also a writer on the script, what would you think? But I was wrong, and I’m glad for it.

A strange disease has wiped out humanity, leaving behind blood drinking monsters that only look like people. Lone survivor Dr. Robert Morgan spends his days continuing to exist, driving through the abandoned cityscape for supplies, making weapons, and systematically killing the vampires/zombies building by building, block by block. The nights find him holed up in his house, barricaded against the howling clawing mobs, drowning in jazz, booze, and dark memories. After three years, he continues to try to find a cure and use his CB radio to look for other survivors more out of habit than hope.

Based on the story I Am Legend, this is probably the closest adaptation to Richard Matheson’s post-apocalyptic horror story, especially in tone. The main character goes through his routines grinding out an existence. A constantly burning pit of bodies puts off greasy smoke. When the character finds companionship, it blows up in his face. It’s almost 90 minutes of bleakness.

Price’s haggard dark Morgan is worth the watch. His velvety voice, seasoned with weary bitterness, is perfect for the long stretches of narration that are over a good chunk of the movie. He is the movie’s strength.

There are, however, problems. It -is- really cheaply made, and the ‘60s Italian factor means there’s bad, sometimes very bad, dubbing. Parts can be slow. If narration bothers you, well it has a lot of it.

But it has stuck with me a lot longer than the remakes, or even most other “undead” flicks. While it has vampire trappings, it’s the first of the modern zombie movies, and takes a turn towards scifi at the end. Not to mention a total must see for Vincent Price fans.

Intermission!

  • Richard Matheson was disappointed with the movie and had his script writing credit changed to Logan Swanson.
  • Was, along with the book, an inspiration for Night of the Living Dead.
  • For remakes see: Omega Man and I Am Legend.
  • Okay, the little girl’s “Mommy? Mommy, where are you?” is dubbed very well. Which makes it kinda terrible to listen to. *shivers*
  • But Ben’s scream at the end is really funny.

Groovy Quotes

Sign: Community Chuch – THE END HAS COME

Robert Morgan: Another day to live through. Better get started.

Robert Morgan: Is that all it’s been since I inherited the world? Only three years? Seems like a hundred million.

Robert Morgan: I can’t afford the luxury of anger. Anger can make me vulnerable. It can destroy my reason… and reason is the only advantage I have over them!

Ben Cortman: Morgan! We’re going to kill you! Morgan! Do you hear, Morgan? Morgan!

Robert Morgan: I want my daughter!
Officer: Mister, a lot of daughters are in there! …Including my own.

Robert Morgan: There was a time when I shopped for a car, now I’m looking for a hearse.

Ruth: But you lived through all this, do you know why?
Robert Morgan: Perhaps I was chosen. Huh, that’s a laugh.

Robert Morgan: And I was going to cure you. Does that amuse you?

Ruth: You’re a legend in the city, living by day instead of night.

Ruth: The beginning of any society is never charming, or gentle.

Robert Morgan: You’re freaks! I’m a man! The last man.

Robert Morgan: They were afraid of me… They were afraid of me…

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6 Comments

  1. Good review. I also enjoyed this movie, and was surprised to read that Matheson was disappointed. Goofball. This was the closest version to his story, in my opinion.

    I think the funniest aspect of the film is Vinnie’s running. Clearly jogging was not among the hobbies of Mr. Price.

  2. I, too, have long been surprised at Matheson’s negative reaction to the film (in spite of its weaknesses), especially when you look at it now that two significantly less faithful versions have been made. But since I have no idea what changes William F. Leicester made when he rewrote Matheson’s script, it’s tough to tell how legitimate his grievances were at the time. It should be noted that Ragona was credited only in Italy, presumably for domestic satisfaction, while the film’s true director was Sidney Salkow, whose brother Lester was Price’s agent at the time. For further information, see my book RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN (http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-4216-4), now on sale.

  3. Ah! You beat me to it, lady. This is a fantastic movie. I think it holds up very well to the test of time, and makes a heck of a lot more sense and emotional impact than the Will Smith attempt.

    Granted, no Mr. Holland’s Opus, but still a very good watch.

  4. Pingback: Great Voice Actors Past and Present: Halloween Edition! « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  5. Pingback: The Last Man on Earth (1964) | Old Old Films

  6. Pingback: Movie Review: The Last Man on Earth - Eradicator Reviews

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