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Omega Man, The - DVD - Warner Home Video Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 27 June 2014
Severed Cinema DVD Reviews

The Omega Man DVD Cover Art from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema


AKA: De overlevende, A Ultima Esperanca da Terra, Le survivant, Sidste mand I live, El ultimo, Den sista mannen, Viimeinen mies, o anthropos pou antikryse tin Kolasi, az omega ember,1975: occhi bianchi sul pianeta Terra, La ultima esperanza, Tek adam, Czlowiek Omega, Der Omega-Mann

Directed by:
Boris Sagal
Written by:
John & Joyce Carrington, Richard Matheson, William Peter Blatty
Produced by:
Walter Seltzer
Cinematography by:
Russell Metty
Editing by:
William H. Zieglar
Special Effects by:
Gordon Bau, A Paul Pollard
Charlton Heston, Rosalind Cash, Anthony Zerbe, Paul Koslo, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Eric Laneuville
1h 34min

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Robert Neville, the protagonist of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, is a hard character to capture in motion pictures. A man driven insane by loneliness, stress and sometimes boredom. A human alone amongst many who have become monsters. A man who hunts and kills them, each one, that's his mission. A man who finds along the way that he has unwittingly become the monster in a new society where he doesn't belong.


Vincent Price, Charlton Heston and Will Smith, have all had a go at fleshing out the character, in all different ways. For what it's worth, I think Will Smith went in the right direction regarding the loneliness and descending madness.... but then the CGI What the Hell Are They Meant to Be? Creatures came along and that was that really.


In 1971, Charlton Heston bared his teeth and dramatically delivered every line in the script, and he had fun doing it! He briefly touched upon the elements in the novel, choosing instead to shoot everything he could, and to be a big last man on earth. The Omega Man decides to replace the original vampires in the book with plague victims who have started a new religion, almost Quaker like, knowing they are dying but refusing to use items from what they claim is “the old world.” To be brutally honest the change is a brilliant one, giving a far more realistic slant to the proceedings.


Robert Neville drives around a corpse ridden world. Accompanied by one of the best soundtracks of that era, he swerves, he grins, he crashes. “There's never a cop around when you need one.” No problem, off to a car dealers he goes. Jolted by a calendar showing the date the world went to pieces, he composes himself to converse with a decomposed corpse at the desk. “So, how much for a trade-in on my Ford? Oh really? Thanks a lot you cheating bastard!” and off he drives. This is Robert's inherited world and he can do what he jolly well likes. The world has been dead so long, he knows each and every word to Woodstock, the last film playing in the local theatre which he has clearly watched over and over again. Afterwards in the street he hears a telephone ringing. Baring his teeth he spins around. More phones ring. From windows everywhere until he covers his ears; “There are no phones ringing, damnit!” Looking into the sky he panics. “My god, it's nearly dark. They'll be waking up soon!”


Driving as fast as he possibly can through the derelict streets (incidentally, apart from one or two spotted moving cars in the distance, these early scenes are incredible, compared easily to the first scenes in Day of the Dead decades later) he reaches home to have hooded figures swoop onto him. One pours petrol out in front of his garage, lighting up the darkness, whilst another dives into the car. Robert drives inside, others run through the flames desperate to kill him. It's a short fight, Charlton Heston is a very tough man.


“They nearly got me tonight,” he tells a bust of Caesar which sits at a chess board. He lives in an apartment high up in a tenement building, strengthened against the huge mob of cloaked figures outside who spend all night screaming and shouting his name. “What day is it anyway? Is it monday? The hell it is, it's Sunday. Sunday I always dress for dinner.”


The mob outside are the survivors, slowly dying of a plague unleashed years ago. Robert Neville was a scientist back in the olden days before the manmade biological disaster. He was a scientist who developed an experimental batch which would hopefully make people immune. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, for whilst in a chopper, the pilot died from the plague and they crashed. Bleeding and broken, Robert felt the first symptoms so used a syringe on himself. Of course the rest is history, it worked, he's immune, all alone.


The survivors have called themselves The Family, and have totally disregarded all technology and what they take as 'relics' from the old ways. Living a more simple life as they slowly die they keep busy burning museums and the odd library, and tormenting Neville. Lead by Matthias, who was a news reader in times long gone, they see Robert Neville as a constant reminder of the people which succeeded in destroying the world. For his part, Robert sees them as parasites, and each day as they sleep (they are sensitive to light) he hunts building to building, gun ready, determined to find the main nest.


The illness has turned them into creamy eyed grey faced albino creatures who hide under cloaks and wear sunglasses. Matthias later in the film pretty much sums up their feelings and their scars to Neville as he and other members remove their glasses. “These are the marks, Mr Neville, the punishment which you and others like you brought onto us.” Matthias decided they were all chosen to clean and to bury what was dead in their new society.


One day whilst out hunting The Family, Robert chances upon another survivor, a young lady with a large afro who runs from him almost in fear. He loses her in the maze of decayed streets, but later on she rescues him from The Family with help from a man called Dutch. Away from the city there's a small settlement full of children.  Lisa and Dutch look after them and salvage whatever they can. They explain the situation, at night there's The Family, in the day there's him running around shooting anything that moves. “What are you, some sort of exterminator?” asks Dutch.


Lisa's brother, Richie, is slowly transforming into an albino, and apparently Lisa will follow soon. So Robert has a plan, to take Lisa and Richie back to his apartment, use his own blood, and hopefully cure them. If it works, he could then bottle it, pack up, leave the city, and live with them all in safety. That's the plan, but Lisa says, “Is there anything you can do, doctor, seeing as you've lost over two hundred million patients?” Neville is confident and unaffected by her sassy attitude. Some of Lisa's lines have been written as if to make you hold your head in a sort of “Did she just say that?” kind of way. For instance: “I know how to roll, but it's hard on the elbows. And if you just have to play James Bond, I'll bust your ass.” I mean, what???!!!


As Richie regains his human side, his humanity is unfortunately their undoing. Having been like one of The Family, and feeling their pain, now that he's back he understands them and wants to unite Neville with them, cure them, and make everyone happy again. He's only a young teen, so he doesn't understand how his actions are about to set off a bigger series of events.


The Omega Man is a classic. It has everything: horror, drama, action, black comedy, romance (brushed over briefly), but mainly that incredible seventies atmosphere you simply cannot regain again. Charlton Heston is perfect as this Robert Neville, a gun loving crazy man who sees himself as a saviour of mankind. This latter detail is painted a bit too over-the-top in the closing fade out image.


As basic as the makeup is it is simply the most effective. The eyes of The Family hold the power to shock you, and the decomposed mummified corpses around the city are just great.


The similarities between Matthias and Neville are hinted at but never taken in depth which is the biggest shame of the movie. You expect a great revelation when perhaps they both see themselves for who they are, but it never comes. Still, Matthias and Neville do sit and talk for around six minutes at one point mid-way and Matthias gets the best quote of the film. “Definition of a scientist. A man who understands nothing, until there was nothing left to understand.” Robert does not see The Family as human in any way, he wants nothing but to violently eliminate them all. They see him as the last man set in the old ways as stated previously, so they want to eliminate him.


The cast are excellent. Rosalind Cash who plays Lisa was also in Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (which I have also reviewed, here), along with Uptown Saturday Night, Cornbread Earl and Me, and Tales from the Hood. She unfortunately died in 1995. Paul Koslo who portrayed Dutch seemed to fall into B-Movie madness which at least meant a lot of work. Robot Jox, Xtro II, Chained Heat II, Desert Heat, and so on. I have sort of keep finding Eric Laneuville/ aka Richie in a few films over the years. I spotted him in Black Belt Jones, quickly in Death Wish, and Love at First Bite.


However, apart from Mr. Heston, acting honours go to both Anthony Zerbe as Matthias, and Lincoln Kilpatrick as Zachary, the Family member who is finding his faith tested by Neville's comforts up in his home. Zachary doesn't survive long, but his character makes an impact.


The Omega Man was directed by Boris Sagel who died in 1981 via helicopter blades. Seriously! The poor bloke was in the production of a film, and after leaving the helicopter he turned the wrong way straight into the rear blade. Known more for a lot of TV movies, he does give The Omega Man an afternoon TV movie feel.


On a personal level, I love The Omega Man. I watched it when I was around nine-years-old and the excitement still fills me every time I re-watch it. It's a great entertainer which has recently been granted a Blu-Ray release with a “making of” and interviews.


My review is from the UK release from Warner Brothers circa 2003 and has an introduction and a documentary The Last Man Alive – The Omega Man.


The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

The Omega Man DVD Screenshot from Warner Home Video on Severed Cinema

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 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9
 Region: PAL R2
 Audio: Dolby Digital Mono

 - Trailer
 - Introduction by Eric Laneuville, Paul Koslo, and writer Joyce Carrington
 - Documentary 'The Last Man Alive – The Omega Man

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