The Omega Man (1971) – reviewed by George

Alpha to Omega – The Last Man. Only he isn’t – not quite.
The film begins with Neville (Charlton Heston) motoring around a big deserted city in a convertible, just enjoying the sun and the breeze. At least it’s good until he sees a street littered with broken stuff and pieces of a bed. He stops, looks up, and sees the silhouette of a man in hat and coat. He whips out his machine gun and opens fire. No further signs, so he drives away, once again enjoying the day. He whips around a corner and there’s a wreck too far back from the intersection to have seen and too close to avoid. He roars over the curb and destroys one of his tires.
So he collects a gas can (can’t leave that behind) and starts walking (yes. he remembers the gun). He comes to a used car dealership and steps through a broken window. He sees a wall calendar marked March 1975 (so just four years in the future for the original audiences in movie houses). He selects a white convertible and drives through the rest of the window to reach the street.
He stops at a movie theater advertising “Woodstock” and sarcastically says, “Great show – held over for a third year.” He goes in,.and upstairs in the projection room he starts the projector, then goes back down to sit in the 5th or 6th row and watch the movie. When he comes out it’s dangerous;ty close to dark and he says, “They’ll be coming out soon.”
He jumps in the white car and speeds away. At his apartment, protected as well as it can be, there are already people waiting. They are dressed in black garments reminiscent of a priest’s cassock and are wearing black head coverings that jut out protecting the sides of the face. From what? From light. And they are screaming, “Die, Neville, die!”
They set off previously spilled gasoline, but his garage door works on a remote, so he opens it and speeds on through. AND he has the machine gun. But now he’s inside and only one of them has lived to report back to their leader Matthias (Anthony Zerbe).
These folks really hate him, and he just asks, “Why can’t they leave me alone?”
Well, they’re just about the last people alive in California, after a world-wide pandemic which was the result of biological weapons being used in a war between China and Russia. And the great majority of the world’s population has been wiped out.
So that’s the setup: isolated scientist and doctor hated and hunted by sick people who can’t stand light. And they’re still contagious.
Neville does find a small group of well people who are living up in the mountains outside of town. Their leaders are Lisa (Rosalind Cash) and Dutch (Paul Koslo). Well, one of them is sick: Lisa’s little brother Richie (Eric Laneuville)
So Neville starts working on a serum.
With the horde of black-cloaked sickies (both physical and mental), this is a real suspense film. But it still has that pandemic framework around it. And it is Recommended.
Based on the Novel “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson, Screenplay by John William and Joyce H. Corrington, Directed by Boris Sagal.

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