Public Domain Movie: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Horror Movie Review

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The Last Man on Earth is based on the Richard Matheson novel, I am Legend. Vincent Price stars as Dr. Robert Morgan and he is, as the title suggests, the last man on earth. The last man he may be, but Dr Morgan is not completely alone on the planet. He shares it with hoards of hungry vampires. They are all out for his blood so he has to stay home at night. He spends his evenings listening to records and nursing a glass of wine while the vampires try and break into the house, gatecrash his party, and try to get a free drink out of him.

Morgan is reasonably safe from the bloodthirsty vampires though. He has turned his home into a fortress with mirrors on the doors, boards on the windows, and garlic on both.

During the daylight hours, the vampires sleep and Morgan goes hunting—armed with a bag of wooden stakes and a mallet. When Morgan starts knock-knock-knocking on wood it’s bad luck for the vampires on the receiving end.

The vampires in The Last Man on Earth are unusually slow-moving for blood-suckers and appear to have the same level of get-up-and-go as the average zombie. This is just one of many ways The Last Man on Earth differs from the majority of vampire movies and it may be a little hard for some viewers to get used to such unconventional vampires.

The movie begins by showing the viewer scenes of empty city streets where bodies lie sprawled in the sun. Then the camera zooms in through a window and finds Morgan sleeping. His alarm clock wakes him up and the last man on earth begins his daily routine—checking the garlic hasn’t lost its smell, that the boards remain in place over the windows, the mirrors are intact, and the generator in the garage has enough fuel. To add a little extra variety to his routine he turns on his lathe and knocks out a few wooden stakes ready to distribute among the vampire population later in the day.

Towards the middle of the movie, there is a flashback sequence that serves to explain to the viewer the reasons behind Morgan’s present situation and what became of his family.

Later still, there is a sequence where Morgan finds a dog that also appears to have escaped being infected with the vampire-creating virus. Then, towards the end of the movie, it seems that Morgan might not be entirely alone after all when he encounters a young woman swinging her arms as she enjoys a stroll in the noon-day sun. Things are not as they seem.

Viewers, who have already read Matheson’s classic story won’t fail to notice The Last Man on Earth doesn’t follow the original storyline very closely. It is still a good movie in its own right though, and well worth watching.

Additional Information

Directed by Ubaldo Ragona

Cast

Vincent Price … Dr. Robert Morgan
Franca Bettoia … Ruth Collins
Emma Danieli … Virginia Morgan
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart … Ben Cortman
Umberto Raho … Dr. Mercer
Christi Courtland … Kathy Morgan
Antonio Corevi … Governor
Ettore Ribotta … TV Reporter

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