The Omega Man (1971)
Director: Boris Sagal
Screenplay by: John William Corrington, Joyce H. Corrington based on I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson
Starring: Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash, Paul Koslo, Eric Laneuville, Lincoln Kilpatrick, John Dierkes, Monika Henreid, Linda Redfearn and Stewart East.
Tagline: The last man alive… is not alone!
Two years after a World War where biological weapons were used, U.S. Army Col. Robert Neville, M.D. (Heston) believes himself to be the only living human. Neville spends his days looking for signs of other humans and killing any mutants that he finds. The mutants rest during the day and come out at night.
To protect himself, Neville has fortified an apartment building. He lives on the top floor. The lower floors are booby trapped. He has floodlights to brighten the area since bright lights blind the mutants. Neville also has dozens of automatic weapons and bombs to keep them at bay. Each night the mutants show up to taunt and attempt to breach Neville’s home.
When Neville learns that their is a small band of humans living somewhere near, he makes it his mission to find and help them. But the mutants are also looking. It’s all going to come to a head and sometimes there are no happy endings.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
I saw The Omega Man when it was first released. I was 12, and the perfect age for sci-fi/horror. I loved Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur and more importantly The Planet of the Apes. So I was excited to see his next adventure. I wasn’t disappointed. Re-visiting The Omega Man in the years (decades) that followed I found it to be less thrilling. There are scenes (particularly those with the motorcycle) that the Neville is obviously not Heston. There’s a 70s vibe that permeates the film. The clothes, the language, the attitude are all hip. At least they’re supposed to be.
Heston spends a lot of time shirtless. He was in great shape for his age, so perhaps he put it in his contract. ; )
Director Boris Sagal mostly worked as a director of television shows and made-for-tv movies. At times The Omega Man feels like one.
Rosalind Cash plays Heston’s love interest. In 1971, this was controversial. I guess it still is with some folks. Look for a young Eric Laneuville of Room 222 and St. Elsewhere fame as one of the kids. Laneuville went on to a career both acting and directing!
The Omega Man isn’t great cinema, But it does qualify as a fun “drive-in” movie.