The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Rating: C-

Dir: Sidney Salkow
Star: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart

Four years later, George Romero would make the over-rated Night of the Living Dead, whose place in movie history is largely based on its supposed originality. Let’s see: a b&w film about a hero trapped in a house? Facing slow-moving corpses brought back from the grave by a mysterious sickness? Downbeat ending in which the zombies prove not to be the worst threat? Looks uncomfortably like all Romero brought to the party was some fake blood, since this adaption of Richard Matheson’s I am Legend brings more to the screen. In particular, the spooky world inhabited by Price, where he must survive alone, venturing out in the day to stock up on supplies to thwart the zombies – who are more like vampires in some ways, being repelled by garlic and killed by staking.

It’s mostly told in voice-over, with 30 minutes before we get any meaningful dialogue, but it’s these flashback scenes that kill the film (though I confess to liking the Monkey’s Paw homage). With a family like this one, the mass extermination of the human race doesn’t seem such a bad idea, though they are hampered either by their unfamiliarity with English, or very poor dubbing, I’m not sure which. My interest gurgled away like water down a drain at this point, and – like most of the population – was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.