Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Am The Last Omega Man On Earth Legend

Lo-budge ways to mark Int'l Zombie History Week w/o leaving your secure undisclosed zombie-resistant location except perhaps to open the door to pick up the groceries you ordered on the internet
--particularly well-suited for the rainy season--

I recently got the dvd for I Am Legend. No choice really. I like zombie films, science-fiction, apocalyptic scenarios, and Will Smith (though I am not sure he is really an actor, he is at least a person who people readily identify with, an everyman wise-guy).

I killed some time watching the animation on the disk while waiting for my son. Then I couldn't navigate back to where I thought the feature was. Ejected, re-inserted. It's back to a menu for the animation. Wrong disk? I popped in the other disk of the 2-disk set.

I hadn't really noticed the large lettering in Japanese that said this 2-disk set had the alternate ending. I just thought it was another bloated 2-disk set to try to justify the price. The second disk had no English subtitles, just subtitles for Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and a long list of Asian languages. I thought that was odd since Japan shares a dvd region code with the UK, not Asia. Whatever, though. Turn on Japanese subtitles. Play. At the end, my significant other, who wasn't really watching, having seen it on a plane, was shocked and said it was nothing like the ending she had seen on the plane. I eventually realized I had watched the alternate, (=original) ending, so we watched the theatrical (movie-house) ending after that. I appreciate having them both. My head was already confused by the fact that the scripts I read online had nothing in common with the newest movie. It's just a big branching tree of alternate versions in my head now. I think I prefer the alternate ending (on dvd to the theatrical version on dvd).

Like every known human, I agree that the CG hemacytes (or mutants or infecteds or vampires or zombies or whatever) were pretty badly done. Use human actors! Do the CG special effects in post-production later the way, for example, Haley Joel Osment's blinks were entirely removed for A.I. (Hey, HJO is 20!). I don't like the way I Am Legend has been reduced to a twitchy gotcha kind of horror thriller.

Unfortunately, I haven't read the original book by Richard Matheson, (82 and living in NJ), preferring to feed on the brains of the free online media over the costly cellulosic carbon versions (no known free e-text version of it yet), so I can't evaluate it in terms of being true to the original form. Obviously these versions have not been.

Prior to seeing the film, I had googled for the scripts one day and read quickly through them (though I haven't read The Omega Man version yet).

Script for The Omega Man, when it was still titled I Am Legend.
Draft: 6/26/70 - 7/18/70

1997 script by John Logan (set in Los Angeles)

Mark Protosevich script (set in San Francisco)

I was surprised and pleased to find the first movie version of I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth, is in the public domain.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Based on the chilling Richard Matheson science fiction Classic "I am Legend" and later remade as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston. This classic features Vincent Price as scientist Robert Morgan in a post apocalyptic nightmare world. The world has been consumed by a ravenous plague that has transformed humanity into a race of bloodthirsty vampires. Only Morgan proves immune, and becomes the solitary vampire slayer.
Downloads and streams

According to IMDB and most reviewers, The Last Man on Earth was better than The Omega Man. However, I have to agree that (what one reviewer called) the "fruity, overwrought" Vincent Price was horribly miscast for the role (although his voice in particular is uniquely suited for other roles), and Charlton Heston or Will Smith are both better choices for Robert Neville aka Robert Morgan.

Omega Man trailer

See this, too:

I found what seems to be an illegal upload of the movie on a site with lots of small discretely annoying ads at --findable via google-video. Having just watched some of that, I think it may be the best of the three film adaptations. I've mentioned Vincent Price and should also say the S-L-O-W "vampire" aspects seem a throwback to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The Omega Man downplays vampirism, blaming the outbreak on germ warfare between Russia and China. Charlton Heston is given an automatic weapon (of course), rather than making wooden stakes on his home workshop lathe. The colors and 1970s look are somehow light years ahead of The Last Man on Earth. Charlton Heston picks through trash and finds lots of dessicated bodies as he searches for the infected. It wouldn't have to be that way. I mean, Night of the Living Dead from 1968 and Dawn of the Dead, from 1978 were both well-done for their times despite the changes in film production values and budgets.

Classic Cinema Online and Flick By Flick have nice collections of copyright-free movies. Laurel and Hardy, Felix the Cat, Popeye, and various other sci-fi, horror, cartoon, drama, and films of assorted genres are there. Some of these are simply streamed off of Google video, but they are more organized and easier to find than the anarchic free-for-all at Google-video/YouTube.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Soylent Green
I think it's time to watch this again.

I watched Carnival of Souls. It's very much from a midwestern Twilight Zone kind of psychological place.
Carnival of Souls (1962)

This is by Herk Harvey, the Centron Productions actor, director, and producer from Lawrence, Kansas. Many of his educational and industrial films are in the Prelinger Archive. BTW I've noticed that Rick Prelinger has a blog: BLACKOYSTERCATCHER. Might be worth checking out.

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