5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2007
This movie is one of the best in this genre. I imagine that the newest addition to the group, "I Am Legend," will outdo it in terms of special effects, but this is the original for me.
I watched "Omega Man" many years ago on TV and it was great! I'm quite the lover of horror and thriller-type movies. This pushed both buttons for me.
Before you go and see "I Am Legend," take a moment to view "Omega Man!" It's well worth it.
on August 10, 2006
Anyone who saw this growing up has a soft spot in their hearts for it; I've encountered enough people over the course of my 37 yrs who perk up at the mention of it to be aware of its place in a lot of our memories. This has been satirized on the Simpsons, which proves it has embedded itself in the national pop culture consciousness. Anyone who has read the book its based on, the incredible "I am Legend" by Richard Matheson, knows that this film has very little in common with it beyond its initial premise--and even that is not followed too closely. All of the criticisms of THE OMEGA MAN are valid: It is very dated and not at all scary or intense and some of the stunts and special effects are laughably, ludicrously cheesy; the villains--who should have been more terrifying than even Romero's zombies--are just crazed albino hippie Luddites and the last half of the film, once Chuck hooks up with Rosalind Cash and the kiddies, is really a let down. But the scenes that open the film of Heston hefting a cool-looking machine gun while decked out in Austin Powers-style finery (!) staring in angst at an old calendar or losing his mind for a moment hallucinating the sound of telephones ringing in the deserted city still pack a punch. This was the second movie, after 1959's THE WORLD,THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL, to successfully pull off the eerie effect of being the last living human being in a huge empty city. Both films established the visual motif of streets filled with blowing waves of newspapers and swirling trash.After years of seeing this on TV -- a guaranteed late September or early October event every year for a few years on the local TV station during my Pacific Northwest childhood in the old Dark Age before CABLE TV and the videocassette revolution, its nice to see this movie on DVD with a beautiful widescreen transfer. It looks and sounds great. As a child I always liked the music, particularly the "surprise party" theme that plays when the villains make their first appearance. It rocks here in all its xylophone and funky electric organ glory!
on July 3, 2004
Based on Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend", which was recommended to Charlton Heston by Orson Welles, and one that Heston was inspired to make into a film, is a truly creepy sci-fi/horror classic. Heston is marvelous as Colonel Robert Neville, a scientist who is immune to the plague that resulted from biological warfare, due to an experimental vaccine he injected himself with.
The survivors infected with the plague are hooded mutants that cannot see in the daylight, and are bent in destroying all the attributes of civilization that remain on earth, crying "burn, burn, burn !" as they pile books in a fiery heap. Their leader is a former news anchor played to the hilt by Anthony Zerbe, who warns the zombie "Family" of the evil created by the "users of the wheel".
It is all quite thought-provoking, and has several connotations to terrorism today, and also has symbolism relating to Christianity; at one point Heston is tied up in a crucifixion pose, and his blood, turned into a serum, can save the remnant of humanity. There are a few reminders from the Book of Revelation, where of course, Jesus said "I am the Alpha and Omega".
Rosalind Cash is lovely as Lisa, one of the remnant hiding in the hills, and her relationship with Heston is a rare instance of an interracial love affair from that era. Films from the 1970s fascinate me, with the hair and fashion styles, and 8-track tapes in the cars.
This film has fabulous cinematography by Russell Metty of a deserted, devastated Los Angeles, a good score by Ron Granier, and fast-paced, disquieting direction by Boris Segal that will occasionally make your heart skip a beat with fright.
Total running time is 98 minutes.
on March 11, 2004
This film would have had more dramatic impact if the kitsch of the early 70's had not been so intrusive--and the only redeeming thing about that was the cool muscle cars! Really, this is a good movie if you can get over the bad music, bad clothes, and occasionally painful "black slang" dialogue that is used by the main female character, and her brother Richie. Emmy-winner Zerbe seems to have a romping good time as the reporter-turned-prophet who leads the plague-deranged Family against Heston's gutsy Col. Neville. It takes some suspension of disbelief to buy the story that Neville has managed to hold off the Family all by himself for two years. Even with their strong social more against technology, and in spite of Neville's personal arsenal, the Family outnumbers Neville hundreds to one! And the two times the Family does get to Neville, Neville seems so utterly bumbling that it's hard to believe a man so easily captured has managed to avoid his fate for such a long time. But I am nit-picking. This is another one of those venerable Heston science fiction products, akin to Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green. It might be argued that Heston enjoys a sub-genre of film science fiction all to himself, between these three films, each of which exploits some of the great fears of the era in which they were made. You shouldn't see one without seeing the others. Especially Soylent Green, as it is almost the mirror image of Omega Man, in that Soylent Green studdies the impact of massive overpopulation whereas Omega tackles the mental experiment of a sudden, catastrophic population decline.
on February 20, 2004
If you haven't read it before, the short novel "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson is one of the classics of horror/science fiction. Grab a copy today (right here on Amazon, simple as can be!) and read it before watching this movie adaptation of the novel. (This is actually the second movie version of "I Am Legend." The first is the elusively unavailable Italian film staring Vincent Price, "The Last Man on Earth.")
"Omega Man" is a movie that, sadly, abandons most of what made its source novel great: the aching loneliness of the only human (or so he believes) left on a planet of bestial vampires. The movie version jettisons the vampires, replacing them with a wacky albino cult that wears sunglasses and glitter-rock robes and have launched themselves on an anti-technology crusade. In a short documentary featurette on the DVD, one of the two screenwriters (the same team responsible for the last and least entry in the "Planet of the Apes" series) explains that they thought vampires were overused, and so opted instead for these albinos. It was a huge mistake; eliminating the vampires literally bleeds (excuse the pun) the story of the fear that it needs to work. The screenwriters also altered Matheson's story in other ways, like having the hero discover a cadre of human survivors with whom he joins forces, and by the halfway point, all traces of the fantastic original story have been lost, including its strange twist of an ending.
To alter a novel for film, of course, is no crime in itself, but the end product in this case is poor, lacking tension, and pretty flat. The film has dated terribly in ways that go beyond the funky albino outfits: it has the kitschy look of a lot of 70s television shows, and director Boris Sagal (a TV veteran) is probably responsible for most of this. If you want to revel in the movie's funky 70s style, you'll probably get a kick out of it (the score is equally dated), but people looking for the serious science fiction film promised will tire of the music, the glam-rock bad guys in sunglasses and glittering robes, and the faux-blaxploitation dialogue. Heston, in the middle of his science-fiction period, appeals to people who enjoy the camp angle, but he is terribly miscast. He projects none of the isolation and despair that the character or Neville should, and it therefore becomes difficult to invest yourself in his situation.
"Omega Man" does have a few decent tense moments, and Anthony Zerbe is fun in a nutty way as the albino leader. The DVD has a couple of extras. There's a short vintage documentary with interviews with Heston where he talks about science fiction. Like most promotional featurettes, there's not much about the making of the film and a lot of hard sell, but it is enjoyable seeing vintage advertising, and Heston's a great character even when he isn't acting. There's also a short modern retrospective on the film, with an interview with two of the actors (not Heston), and one of the screenwriters. Not much information here either, and they predictably give the film more praise than it deserves. There are also a few screens of text describing the science fiction films that Heston appeared in during this period.
Yes, "Omega Man" has some charms, but only people with a love of cult 70s movies and their styles, or people who have read the novel, will really want to see it. If you are a science fiction or horror fan, there are a lot worse ways to kill 100 minutes -- but you should invest that time in Matheson's novel instead if you haven't read it, and then decide if you want to spend the extra time with this film. (Hopefully, the Vincent Price version, which is closer to the novel, will become available on DVD one day.)
on February 14, 2004
Of those reviewers that felt that this film fell short of Hestons other Sci Fi films--shame on them. We, who have seen this one know the plot...Charlton Heston plays a government scientist that holds the key to survival...the antidote to the biological weapon his government help create, a deadly plague that either kills or genetically mutates the survivors of the disease and drives them insane. He, Dr. Nevill, is Satan to the mutated survivors--activly pursuing and killing them (putting them out of their misery). Hey--it's them or him--I vote for survival. I think the only thing I would do different is move out of the city, away from those REALLY creepy half dead zombies.I understand Hestons caracter refused to give in to them and stay where he was..but......The real point is--even though this movie is based on the R. Mattheson book--I am Legend--and not really close to the original story..who cares? The movie is good on it's own. Put it this way...unless I am in bed and can pull the covers over my head--I still won't watch this film downstaires in the dark by myself...but then neither my wife or kids will watch this with me either....It is a bitter-sweet film and you almost feel releaved rather than sad when Heaston is killed in the end--he was the one who was truely tormented.
on December 29, 2003
I'm talking about those black-hooded albino people who do all the funny chanting. You might not _know_ they were supposed to be vampires unless you had either (a) read Richard Matheson's book _I Am Legend_ (the book on which the film is loosely based) or (b) seen Vincent Price in _The Last Man on Earth_ (based on the same book).
This is the middle member of Charlton Heston's SF 'last man' trio, and I'm afraid it's not as good as either _Planet of the Apes_ or _Soylent Green_.
For one thing, the music and the production values give it the feel of a lost episode of a 1970s cop show -- _Barnaby Jones_, say, or _The Mod Squad_. If you didn't know this had been a theatrical release, you'd never figure it out from the cinematographic texture.
For another, there are those not-quite-vampires. They're led by the ever-dependable Anthony Zerbe, who does well in spite of it all (and fans of the _Matrix_ films will want to pay careful attention to his human-vs.-machine speeches in this film; his role as Councillor Hamann takes on a little extra depth). But all the white face paint and fake eyeballs just don't quite come together into anything halfway menacing.
On the plus side, there's Heston, who is his usual magisterial self. He really tries hard to make us believe that he's the 'last man on earth', and he very nearly succeeds. Probably no other actor of the time could have carried this role, in this context, so close to believability.
But no cigar. This is a classic and SF film buffs will want to see it and own it. But it's much harder to watch than it should be.
on December 19, 2003
And I think Peg Bundy's dad violated most of them. The movie is pretty good overall but dated as heck and I think that is the director's fault. Boris Sagal did a lot of TV programs so what may have been ok for the one didn't translate to the big screen. Movies should have a relatively timeless quality about them and this doesn't. It's like watching an old Sanford and Son rerun.
The plot, of course, is loosely adapted from I Am Legend and is servicable and is satisfactory. Heston does sci-fi as only he could in that '68-'76 window of doom and gloom sci-fi (until Star Wars blew the lid back off and sci-fi returned to the adventurous serials of the 30's+40's).
I saw this movie as a kid and it simply stuck with me (and I couldn't tell it was dated). I still have nightmares based around this movie and I am for the most part in the Heston role. I suppose when life is getting me down and I'm a little paranoid about the world I have an Omega Man based dream. But the real thing has not aged well and Boris probably has more to do with that then any other aspect. Movie idea gets ***** and the direction gets * so overall ***.
on November 16, 2003
I remember seeing this movie as a child and reguarding it as a zombie film (along the lines of Night Of The Living Dead ). It wasn't until I tracked down a copy of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" (along with his some of his other works which included "Prey") in a used bookstore (obviously long before eBay appeared) in Texas that I realized that this was really a vampire story. Having recently discovered "The Last Man On Earth" (1964) with Vincent Price (on the same DVD as his excellent "House On Haunted Hill" ), I found that that film stayed closer to the original story. Be that as it may, this horror movie is an essential addition to my DVD collection and is obviously inspiration for the recent hit "28 Days Later". Having watched "28DL" a couple of nights ago, I was struck by the similarities of the long tracking shots of the protagonist roaming the deserted city streets (as well as other plot points). There's nothing like paying homage to a classic.
on September 19, 2003
The 60's and 70's saw science fiction cinema take a darker tone. Gone was the gee whiz fun factor of the serials of the 30's. In its place, cynicism and a darker tone, was put in its place. Since actor Charlton Heston made three such films, no other film star at time, embraced the genre, the way hid did.
A deadly plague has ravaged humanity. Government research scientist Robert Neville (Heston) helped develop the illness as biological weapon. As one of the planet's only survivors' Neviille leads a group of those who are immune. This group must confront a band of mauraders, led by Matthias(Anthony Zerbe), who are just trying to surrvive any way they can. Realizing his part in this nightmare, Neville tries to find a cure and insure humanity's future.
Following in the footsteps of Planet Of The Apes and Soylent Green, director Boris Segal's The Omega Man is a solid cautionary story that, at the time, fit Heston quite well. Although the film lands somewhere behind the aforementioned other two films, there's still plenty to take notice of. Aside from performaces by Heston and Zerbe, Rosalind Cash has quite a turn as Lisa--a smooth lady. The storyline, seems more timely, given the world in which we live in today.
The DVD extras include a video introduction by screenwriter Joyce H. Carrington, and cast members Paul Koslo, and Eric Laneuville that's pretty lame. I would have thought that a commentary would be here--It would have been preferred. Those who own the Soylent Green DVD will recognize the essay "Charlton Heston: Science Fiction Legend". The best extra on the disc is, as far as I'm concerned is, "The Last Man Alive: The Omega Man", a 10 minute vintage featurette. Cast and crew bios and the tearical trailer top off the disc. The film is presented in both Full Screen or Widescreen, depending on your preference.
The Omega Man DVD is recommended (despite some reservations).