Your Stars, Today, 08.06.09

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Chalk another one up in my quest to see every film illustrated in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies.

From THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, a surprisingly faithful Italian-shot version of Richard Matheson’s classic novel of modern vampirism, I Am Legend. In terms of story and ideas, this would be the version the fans of the book want, except that Sidney Salkow directs with the dynamism of a dehydrated aspidistra, and Vincent Price is the universe’s least physical actor. The shots of him gangling about in the distance are pathetic in all the wrong senses of the word, and the montages of him staking vampires could be used in training films showing how not to swing a mallet. The survivalist protag needs to be played by someone able to suggest swagger and extremism: Shatner would’ve been a godsend.

Nevertheless, some interest is generated by the shambling nocturnal figures, so clearly a big influence on George Romero. He likes to claim it’s the novel that influenced him…

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5 Responses to “Your Stars, Today, 08.06.09”

  1. Uncle Vinnie may not be all that physical but he’s infinitely more engaging than Will Smith.

  2. And the most disturbing thing about The Omega Man is Chuck Heston running like a girl. The legs. The elbows. Or was it Soylent Green? I get them confused.

  3. Price is certainly an engaging actor but Last Man isn’t really his kind of thing. No possibility of humour. And no talent behind the camera to focus his seriousness as in Witchfinder General.

    I hadn’t noticed Chuck’s run. Eli Wallach in The Good the Bad and the Ugly has an amusingly feminine run though. There, I’ve just ruined the ending for you.

  4. I caught Last Men on Earth on retrovision and wondered how much better it would have been without the voiceover. Less dynamic obviously but the in the book the protagonist’s potterings always slightly smacked of a writer putting off writing, which I liked.

  5. The VO didn’t bother me fantastically, but Uncle Vinnie is just the wrong man to deliver it. I mean, they could probably have afforded Dana Andrews. Make him drink some coffee… it’ll be fine. But, while Price can and does adapt his schtick to suit the movie, he doesn’t bring any of the impassioned conservatism that it needs.

    Harry Secombe in The Bed Sitting Room makes a better survivalist — he really nails it.

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