Charlton Heston plays humankind's last hope, the last survivor of a hellish, germ-warfare doomsday, fighting off fiendish subhuman mutants that stalk by night. Bonus featurette - The Last Man Alive. Starring: Charlton Hest... more »on, Rosalind Cash, Anthony Zerbe Year: 1971 Sound: ENG, FR; Subtitles: ENG, FR Screen Format: Side A: Standard; Side B: Wiedescreen« less
Jeffrey Ellis | Richardson, Texas United States | 04/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Omega Man is based loosely (and by that, I mean very loosely) on Richard Matheson's classic end-of-the-world novel I am Legend. Taking place in the near future, the Omegan Man imagines a world where the majority of the population has been wiped out by biological warfare. Those that have survived have become albinos who can only come out at night. In a clever touch that has never really been given its due, their leader is a former TV news commentator named Mathias (well-played by Anthony Zerbe who is both sympathetic and threatening). Mathias has declared that the only way to purify the world is to destroy all reminders of their former life and that includes anyone who may not have been infected with the plague. At the beginning of the movie, that would appear to be all of one man -- a former military scientist played by Charlton Heston who spends his days driving through a deserted Los Angeles is search of both a cure and more humans. At night, he hides in his well-lit apartment while Mathias's mob angrily tries to force him out. The Omega Man is at its strongest in the beginning. The scenes of Heston driving across a deserted Los Angeles (scenes that were shot on actual L.A. street) continue to haunt thirty years after they were first filmed and, for all its inherent camp value, there's something undeniably powerful about seeing the half-mad Heston passing the time by sitting in an empty music theater and watching Woodstock. As well, Mathias' siege on Heston's apartment is also well handled. After this, the film loses its way slightly with Heston predictability getting trapped outside after dark and much of the film's action falls flat. However, uneven as it may be, it all builds up to a truly powerful ending that will shock those raised on the sci-fi films of the '80s and '90s and the final visual image of Heston still packs an incredible amount of power. Despite the fact that Charlton Heston's performance here (and Soylent Green) provided the inspiration for many impressionists, he actually gives an excellent performance. While he spends much of the film gritting his teeth NRA-style, he also brings a very believable sense of fear to the night scenes. Heston doesn't make his hero an obvious hero -- instead of being a standard good guy, mankind's last hope is instead presented as having been driven almost mad by his responsibility. When it was initially released, the Omega Man got mixed reviews and unfortunately, it has retained some of that negative stigma. When I was a kid and this movie used to play nearly every Sunday afternoon, I thought it was the scariest film ever made. The images of Mathias and his followers with their black robes and pasty faces used to give me nightmares. Now that I'm older, the movie no longer terrifies me but it still carries an undeniable and admirable power. Instead, it is an uneven film that, like many so-called B films of the 1970s, sticks admirably true to its darker than dark designs. For all the critical sniping that the Omega Man has suffered over the years, it is still a film that could teach today's Hollywood directors a thing or two about making an effective movie."
Charlton Heston plays "The Last Man on Earth" in deliciously
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 11/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Boris Sagal's film "The Omega Man" was the second attempt to make Richard Matheson's classic novel (the third is with Will Smith) into a film. Matheson wrote a screen version that starred Vincent Price (entitled "The Last Man on Earth")that captured some of the qualities of his novel but suffered from being shot in post-War Italy on a low budget (Matheson substituted his name in the credits with a pseudonym). It's moody, low budget cinematography added to the film but it fails to live up to Matheson's original novel."The Omega Man" likewise fails to live up to Matheson's novel but is still an enjoyable if dated science fiction film. Charlton Heston and the supporting cast do a fine job with the material that they are given even if the screenplay guts some of the best elements of the novel in favor of more topical material from the time. The opening sequence where Heston drives down a deserted street in Los Angeles and then screens "Woodstock" in an empty theater continues to be eerie and quite effective even 35 years later.
In Matheson's original novel the result of viral warfare (in the film this is due to chemical warfare. Joyce Carrington takes credit for coming up with this concept) changes humans into vampire-like (ghouls in this film with a sensitivity to sunlight)creatures. Neville appears to be the last human. In the film the creatures are led by a former news anchor (played by Anthony Zerbe)who taunts Neville hunting him just as he hunts them, Neville meets other humans after a long period of isolation awakening his sense of humanity.
Any science fiction film is truly about the decade it was made in. The film ends up being about the last vestiages of the 60's and 70's (and cults like the Manson Family which is really what the "Family" of ghouls represent)and the conflict between the status quo and youth culture. Neville represents technology, reason and the past while the "Family" represents a rejection of the very things that made them into monsters and changed the world.
Although it's a bit heavy handed and departs signficantly from Matheson's novel, "The Omega Man" carries over some of Matheson's themes and the sense of loss, lonliness and how we can lose our own sense of humanity when surrounded by "monsters". There are some very effective scenes in the film and Heston does an excellent job of portraying Neville's fragile hold on sanity. Although not as good as "Planet of the Apes" or even "Soylent Green", "The Omega Man" is a dated but enjoyable science fiction film that has become a bit campy with the passage of time.
The DVD features a very good transfer of the film. An "introduction" (it's more of a brief featurette on the film) by screenwriter Joyce H. Corrington, actors Paul Koslo and Eric Laneuville who appear in the film Unfortunately Heston wasn't interviewed for this reissue of the film. We do, however, get a vintage featurette where Heston talks about the film and his character with an anthropologist that influenced his take on Neville. We also get a text extra "Charlton Heston-Science Fiction Legend". Although this isn't the best film of the four science fiction films Heston made during the 70's (the ending of this film with its heavy handed Christ-like death of a major character is a bit much), it's still enjoyable due to the action sequences and the performances of the veteran cast."
Hippie Science Fiction.
Jeffrey Ellis | 02/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is the height of irony that Chuck Heston, who has recently raised the ire of numerous liberal do-gooders for his arch-conservative stances on issues such as gun control, was the star of counter culture sci-fi flicks of the late 60's and early 70's: Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and this classic, The Omega Man."The Man" has screwed up and destroyed mankind with his weapons of mass destruction. All that remains is a scientist (Heston) who discovered a vaccine against the deadly virus that has either killed people or turned them into mutant psychopaths. Also alive are a handful of children and a couple of adult free spirits; but unless they are vaccinated they will turn into mutants with time. ("Don't trust anyone over 30!") Can the Omega Man use his blood as a vaccine to save what is left of mankind? Can the Omega Man survive the night when all the mutants come out to try and kill him?This is a fun movie! Sure "The Omega Man" is dated; but that is part of its charm: the music, the clothes, and those afros. Some parts are priceless such as sight of Chuck Heston watching the movie "Woodstock" and knowing all the dialogue by heart. Or a black mutant trying to convince the head mutant, Anthony Zerbe, to allow him to use artillery to blast Heston out of his "honky paradise." (On a serious note: This movie did feature one of the first interracial movie romances in which race is considered inconsequential.) Heston is at his hammy best here, and he does utter his trademark line: "Oh, my God!" The ending is a hoot with Chuck as Christ- "The blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.""I was like Charleton Heston in "The Omega Man." Beauty movie, eh?"- Strange Brew"
One of my Favorite Charlton Heston Films!
Archie Mercer | Yorba Linda, CA | 09/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
With a nod to some of the previous reviewers, yes this movie is quite dated. Especially if you are watching this for the very first time. It's a film that was released in 1971 and is about events 4 years into the future. So of course it's dated. But I had the pleasure of seeing this in the theater when it was first released and to this day, no film EVER grabbed my attention as quickly as "The Omega Man." The opening scene, done pre-opening credits, is and probably will always be my all-time favorite scene, if only for the surprise factor.
The plot is the "end-of-civillzation-and-beyond" kind. Here, a border war between Russia and China turns into germ warfare, releasing a nasty bug into the atmosphere. Most people die almost instantaniously. However, a small percentage live on for a short while but are turned into an almost albino state where any type of direct light causes them emmense pain. Heston plays Robert Neville, a government researcher who discovered a cure for the virus only to have his helicopter crash on the way to deliver the vaccine. As a last resort he injects himself with what's left of the vaccine and thus becomes the only human on the planet immune.
Now to clarify some of the mis-information stated in other reviews. The group of albino survivors are not vampires/nombies/whatever. As the virus takes hold of them they go insane. Led by Mathias (Anthony Zerbe) they have decided the disease is God's punishment for man's overuse of techology and have decided it is their mission to burn all forms of knowledge. By night we see book burnings as they sack the deserted Los Angeles. To them Neville is like Satan because he refuses to denounce the old ways. This leads to basically two stubborn men bent on the destruction of the other. By day Neville hunts down "the Family and by night the family lays siege to his fortress-like home.
Yes, there are some scenes that really push the envelope of believability. But then again, this is science fiction, and any good sci-fi story will do that. There are also many scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. One in particular, after being captured, Neville is taken to Dodger Stadium where the Family plans to burn him along with a huge pile of books. To the family, it's their crowning moment. But at the last minute both the family and Neville get a surprise when the stadium lights are suddenly turned on, sending the family to the ground in pain. I can't go further into the scene without spoiling it so lets just say the escape is one of the many surprises that keep popping up.
To sum up, I would recommend this film to any sci-fi fan. Again, it is dated but the plot is great and of course Heston and Zerbe are absolutely great as adversaries. Don't miss it."
MY GOD ITS ALMOST DARK, THEY'LL BE WAKING UP SOON
VLADIMIR J. GOYKOW, AAS | Greenpoint and Oak | 08/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is such a classic, I don't think a thousand words can do it justice, but I will try though! If youre antisocial like me, you'll appreciate the fantasy of "being alone". There have been times when I cut class and went to the movies at about 11am on a weekday and made believe I was Charleston Heston in the early "Woodstock" scene, which is just a priceless sequence.The movie does have its political commentaries about how the lack of world peace can turn everyone into light-sensitive Zombies ( Anthony Zerbe, Lincoln Kilpatrick) and interracial loving (Heston and Rosalind Cash). Richard Matheson (through Boris Sagal)has made the ultimate social commentaries with this masterpiece. I don't know about you? But I can't wait for them to unearth an extra hour or two of deleted scenes and bonus footage.Omege Man is a movie that can be watched for 3 hours."