Finding himself the last known human on Earth, Charlton Heston explores a gutted Los Angeles during the day but at night concentrates on not becoming a midnight snack for the mutants roaming the city.
That startling what-if sci-fi proposition — the last man alive — is given atmospheric punch by novelist Richard Matheison (with I Am Legend), and adapting director TV veteran Boris Sagal. But the concept has a snag, once beyond the evocative stillness of a lone wolf in an empty city, where’s the plot? The answer, here, is a disappointing variation on the zombie flick: the survivors (turns out Charlton Heston is not so lonely after all) face up to lurching hoards of albino killing machines made light averse by the bio-destruction.
In adapting Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, the film loses the original's quiet paranoia and rethink of the vampire theme, but it has quite a lot of gritty flair, even in the latter sections when a group of uncontaminated hippy drop-outs turn up to spoil the gun-toting fun. The early scenes, as Heston feuds with the mutants, are exciting and eerie, and there's a wonderfully overwrought bit of Christ imagery at the end as Chuck does his self-sacrificing messiah act again.
The film does have some interesting undercurrents, especially with the presences of big social stickler Chuck — as anti counterculture. The zombie-vampires are referred to as “The Family” a barely veiled reference to the murderous cult of Charles Manson. But the film has run out of petrol, its evocative, alien vision of the first half, Heston alone in the sprawling city, sputter into anarchic horror movie clichés, with a bleak ending just around the corner.
Now with added mutants, the Omega Man has changed somewhat in its transition to the big screen, but it's not the plot that disappoints, it's the poor dialogue between action sequences. Sadly another film to file under 'not as good as the book.'