Thursday, September 1, 2016

It’s A Brave New World (of Albino Mutant Zombie Vampires!), or Thoughts on The Omega Man

From the Richard Matheson 1954 novel I Am Legend, The Omega Man (1971) is a remake of The Last Man on Earth (1964, with Vincent Price), and the inspiration for  Will Smith’s I Am Legend (2007).   Professional jaw clencher Charlton Heston from Planet of The Apes (1968) and Soylent Green (1973) portrays Col. Neville, the only survivor of a biological war between the US and China that somehow turned everyone else into angry light-sensitive cult members.  They were vampires in 1964 and CGI zombies in I Am Legend, but in this movie the rest of the population have de-evolved into albino night-dwelling luddites who see Neville as a throwback and an abomination.
Charlton Heston in his safari jacket and aviators cruising down the empty streets of downtown LA remains effective and compelling, simply for the fact that the filmmakers had to actually close down the streets to get the shots.  He talks to himself, supplying narration and exposition to what would essentially be a silent movie, at least until night falls and his fortified apartment building is besieged by the torch wielding hooded mutants.
It's an unapologetic Cold War metaphor, both about life after what was considered at the time the inevitable nuclear war, and the two competing philosophies of the mutant Brotherhood and Neville.  A battle between light and dark, Neville by day and the Brotherhood by night, but Neville is the last man, the omega man, get it?
With Anthony Zerbe from classic TV series like The Wild Wild West and Kung Fu, and also Admiral Dougherty from Star Trek Insurrection (1988) and Councilor Hamann from The Matrix as Matthias, the lead mutant cult member, who particularly has it in for Neville.  The Omega Man also features the first US interracial kiss with Rosalind Cash from Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976) as Lisa, another non-mutant survivor Neville finds conveniently hiding out in a downtown department store.
Incidentally, the first American TV interracial kiss happened on Star Trek’s 1968 episode Plato’s Stepchildren, between Uhura and yep, you guessed it, Kirk.  They were under the control of aliens but that didn’t stop the episode from being dropped in the South.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).