Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Omega Man (1971) Review

The Omega Man 1971 poster
Director: Boris Sagal
Stars: Charlton Heston
Genre: Science Fiction

The Omega Man is the second film adaptation of Richard Matheson's horror novel I Am Legend. The first was The Last Man on Earth (1964) which starred Vincent Price and a third one was later released in 2007 (I Am Legend) starring Will Smith.

The film loosely follows the novel's plot. It takes the concept but changes the details. A scientist played by Charlton Heston believes he is the last man on earth after a disease spread and turned everyone into vampire-like creatures of the night. He holds off against the creatures in his Los Angeles home until his plans are changed when he discovers that he's not the only survivor.

The film starts out well enough, with an eerily barren L.A. and a cool as ever Heston driving around its empty streets. The film does a good job convincing you that Charlton Heston really is the last man on earth. And seeing Heston watch Woodstock in a theatre is completely hilarious and ironic, and admittedly effective.

The vampire creatures look hilarious. I'm sorry but they do. They're just guys wearing hooded robes with faces painted white and, wait for it, sunglasses! It's ridiculously cheesy. The creature design alone prevented me from taking this film at all seriously as a science fiction or horror movie. 

Films don't easily become outdated for me. Many of my favorite films date back to the 1920s. The Omega Man is dated. The cool Charlton Heston looks silly by today's standards, there's the stereotypical blaxploitation afro girl, the camp-ridden monsters. It's definitely a hard film to take seriously. As far as camp value goes, you'll get your unintentional laughs here and there, but it's not too hilarious.

The Omega Man 1971 vampires

I definitely enjoyed the first half of the film but things went a bit downhill for me in the second. More survivors are introduced and the romance starts. There is a noteworthy interracial kiss between Charlton Heston and Rosalind Cash that sparked a bit of controversy in the day. Whoopi Goldberg called it one of the first interracial kisses in film. Anyway, the second half is boring.

The Omega Man 1971

It's not a terrible movie, Charlton Heston does a great acting job and delivers some awesome one-liners, but in the end time did not work in The Omega Man's favor. There's enough camp to prevent you from taking the film seriously, but there's not enough camp to make the film enjoyable simply for that. So in the end it was, to me, a bit disappointing. 

Recommended for: fans of any cast/crew (especially Heston fans), any one interested in I Am Legend adaptations

2/5 stars

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