On the recommendations of film this week, FIRSTFRUITS provides a critique on ‘The last man on Earth’ and other films with elements of horror.
In a world ravaged by a pandemic that has turned most humans into vampires, a scientist struggling to survive and end the threat.
Already in 1964 there appeared the first film version of the novel by Richard Matheson published 10 years before. And in it all is lost: humanity has been reduced, the vampires rule the world, and a scientist, Robert Morgan, is the only one left standing.
It is supposed to.
And Morgan is not only immune to the disease that has destroyed the human race, but that he is called to face these creatures, as an act of cleaning.
Of atonement or guilt.
That perhaps is the strongest point of the film that did Sidney Salkow and Ubaldo Ragona, with the great Vincent Price in the starring role. Only with that presence on the screen, the key of terror is in the foreground.
But The last man on Earth -as titled – it is anything but a horror movie. This is a film about the decisions that are made, the faults and what is happening in the middle.
Perhaps that is why the figure overacted Vincent Price is accurate and necessary in the movie.
The drama of the character in solitude
This adaptation -you had your own Matheson one of his writers – is very faithful to the development of the actions in the original novel. And that is one of its strong points.
The story of Matheson focuses on the loneliness and the past generates in the main character.
Vincent Price is absolutely histrionic as the doctor Morgan and that served in many scenes. Especially when faced with vampires-one of them, a people close to him – who try to destroy him.
Morgan comes out of the day to finish off the vampires. They nailed stakes in the heart. In the evening, it locks in your home, to sink in to the depression and sadness that will not leave you in peace.
By the time they reach the flashbacks, the situation becomes more painful and dark. The disease kills at all, least of all to him.
What Morgan is a conviction, and Price makes that clear.
At management level, the work of Salkow and Ragona is poor. Perhaps the issue is the budget -the film was shot with cast and Italian team in Rome, in order to reduce costs-, but in summary, it’s about talent. Except for a few scenes, there is a real attempt conflictuar to the viewer.
When this happens -and it happens – it is a merit of Price, no doubt. That kind of grim elegance in his poise and in the way you move.
Eventuallywhen it reveals the full extent of the story -humanity has ended, but a new society of vampires “civilized” begins to grow- falls into account the precise rotation in the film.
Because Morgan is the legend that all other vampires fear. It is the type that kills and that may not turn out to be one of them.
The paradox is brutal especially because, as has happened in other versions of the film of this story as The Omega Man (1971) and I am Legend (2007), he has the cure to the virus that changed all.
And, as has happened in other opportunities, in this film, that it is not valuable. There is an ambiguity in the closing of the film that elevates it all.
Morgan feels that it is feared and can’t understand how. What about your cure? Maybe save or perhaps not. There is No need to investigate much more.
The Last Man on Earth
Dir: Sidney Salkow and Ubaldo Ragona
Script: Logan Swanson (Richard Matheson and William F. Leicester, based on the novel I am legend, Matheson.
Cast: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Emma Danieli.
20th Century Fox, 1964
Where are the limits?
‘Person’, of Ingmar Bergman
AB Svensk Filmindustri, 1966
A work that continues to generate stinging to 54 years of its premiere. Bergman gives the nail on the head in this work in which an actress (Liv Ullman) has lost the power of speech and must be cared for by a nurse (Bibi Andersson).
At some point the separation between the two women as two different characters starts to blur. And so comes the moment of tension that mark the experience of psychological thriller more strong in the film. Person it is wonderful. Not to say more. It can be seen by Mubi.
A superhero particular
‘The Toxic Avenger’, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz
Troma Entertainment, 1984
A classic of the production company Troma -the queen of B movies in the united States – in which a guy without much of a future and without importance becomes a superhero after falling into toxic waste.
In a sort of nod to the Quasimodo of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, The The Toxic Avenger decide to confront the corruption of the city, to stop the pollution and to do justice, in a film that has as much splatter as a very low budget, and comedy awkward. You can also see for Mubi.