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The Omega Man (1971)

The Omega Man (1971)

It's another take on The Last Man on Earth (1964), though now the vampires are a cult of regular humans, who reject the ways of the new (which led to the fall of civilization) and refuse to use modern weapons. Charlton Heston plays the last man on Earth in this one - as the former army doctor Robert Neville (it was Robert Morgan in the previous), until one day he finds a living, breathing girl - who's not part of the cult, and takes her back to his place. It's the seventies now, so you know that's bound to go a little different than it did last time.

Charlton Heston is a way better actor than Vincent Price was in the last movie, though of course our perceptions of 'good' change with time. He's not only more modern though, but much more macho, and charismatic. Like an old, white version of Will Smith. The similarities between this movie and the newer I Am Legend are much more notable too, not to mention the world's in color now, and instead of stakes the last man drives around with machine guns, and shoots at whomever he sees. Unlike his predecessor he lives in a top-floor apartment, plays chess against a statue of Napoleon, enjoys fine drinks, and tries to shut out the nighttime noise of the cult who thrashes about outside his window and seeks to kill him. The sense of paranoia and loneliness is closer here, and you'll find plenty of elements used in the newer version, like the mannequins, and the fast cars. No dog, though.

Eventually, he meets up with a group of survivors too, and talk of a cure comes about. The action's a bit more frantic than last time, there's a couple intimate moments, a little humor, a little desperacy - it's grimy and trashy and the city seems considerably more abandoned than it did in the last. In just seven years it seems a whole lot has improved, and changed, and the most notable news is it's now in full color. Of that grimy, saturated type that the seventies are remembered by, and most of it filmed in the gritty inner-city, which is surprisingly empty considering the vocation of location.

The twists aren't all that unexpected, and the cult's attempts to tackle Robert still seem somewhat tame, but it did have a ferocious finale in somewhat Scarface-like style. With the water, I mean. Somewhat similar. These movies never end happily, do they?

The blood may be a bit too punk, the actors not all that engaging (the Cult especially), and the camera bounces around a bit much sometimes, but everything else is great. You don't watch a movie like this for realism, but for the grit, and that Gung-ho style the seventies came with, and movie stars like Heston that really fit the role. Fresh blood. It's definitely the best version yet.

 rated 3/5: not bad

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The Omega Man (1971)


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