Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vincent Price vs The Mutant Vampires, or Thoughts The Last Man on Earth

From Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth (1964) starred the great Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan, the only survivor of a post-Cold War apocalypse that somehow (it’s never really explained) turned the rest of the planet into vampires.  Much like George A. Romero’s Night of The Living Dead (1968), this Italian-American production envisioned a world of supernatural creatures with a science fiction explanation.  And these vampires are old-school traditional; allergic to sunlight, garlic, mirrors, and easily dispatched with a stake through the heart.
A black and white film, The Last Man on Earth focuses on the drudge and daily routine of Vincent Price’s life: wake up, kill some vampires, burn them in pits and return home by nightfall.  It’s disconcerting to see him play a tired, ordinary character and not an elegant madman.  He’s alone for most of the movie, and carries it on the strength of his star power and his magnificent voice in the anonymous European city. 
His house fortified with garlic braids and mirrors, in addition to the requisite post-apocalypse boarded windows but it doesn’t take long before the vampires organize, become the dominant culture and start hunting him.  In an ironic twist the vampires consider him the villain, and in this Twilight Zone upside down world where day is night, who is to say different?  The movie would go on to inspire two remakes, The Omega Man (1971, with Charlton Heston) and Will Smith’s I Am Legend (2007).  
Vincent Price needs no introduction to the readers of this blog, what with a 55-year career and an IMDb page of over 200 credits.  Some of my favorites include Theater of Blood (1973), The Fly (1958), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), House of Wax (1953), Thriller (1983) his final role in Edward Scissorhands (1990), not to mention his numerous collaborations with Roger Corman, and an often overlooked film noir classic, Laura (1944).

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).