The Last Woman on Earth (1960)

Rating: D

Dir: Roger Corman
Star: Anthony Carbone, Betsy Jones-Moreland, Robert Towne

While writer/star Towne would go on to script Chinatown, that was still a long way in the future when he knocked out this Corman quickie, appearing as Edward Wain. Filmed in the gaps during the 1960 shooting in Puerto Rico of Creature from the Haunted Sea, it’s an apocalyptic love-triangle, with the rest of the world apparently dead after a temporary removal of all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Our happy trio – dodgy real-estate mogul Harold, wife Evelyn and his lawyer Martin – were scuba-diving at the time, and so escaped the same fate. However, it’s not long before Evelyn’s eyes are wandering, and the line “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the last man on Earth!” starts to loom nearby, with increasing relevance.

It’s the kind of half-interesting idea that gets hamstrung partly because of the lack of budget – there’s much more talk about dead bodies than are actually shown – and partly because there are facets with far greater potential than the jealousy and adultery on which Corman chooses to focus. Instead of trying to find out what happened, the protagonists here are happier sitting around drinking martinis and bitching about each other, behaviour eventually escalating into the use of freshly-caught fish as a weapon. No, really. When you have to resort to this, in a film that’s only 71 minutes, you should fire your writer. Especially when he’s also 1/3 of the cast.