When a plague devastated life on Earth, the population died or became a sort of zombie living in the dark. Dr. Robert Morgan is the unique healthy survivor on the planet, having a routine life for his own survival: he kills the night creatures along the day and maintains the safety of his house, to be protected along the night. He misses his beloved wife and daughter, consumed by the outbreak, and he fights against his loneliness to maintain mentally sane. When Dr. Morgan finds the contaminated Ruth Collins, he uses his blood to heal her and he becomes the last hope on Earth to help the other contaminated survivors. But the order of this new society is scary.
The Film that spawned 3 imitators. This is the 1st attempt to bring the novel “I Am Legend” to the screen as “Last Man On Earth”. Warning bells should be ringing about this film for a few reasons.
Reason 1 – Hammer Studios turned it down.
Reason 2 – The writer asked for his name to be taken off the credits.
Reason 3 – It’s in Black & White even though it is 1964.
So we’re on our guard but hopefully Horror legend Vincent Price playing the lead role of Dr Robert Morgan should allay our fears. He’s a character filled with Pathos. From the opening of the film his narrative is filled with misery, loneliness and sadness.
He describes the monsters that inhabit the Earth and the precautions he takes against them (Their thirst for blood, hatred of their reflection, fear of Garlic, they don’t come out in daylight, he uses stakes to kill them) pretty much sets these monsters in the Vampire category.
We see him leave home, taking corpses which he eventually burns. Collecting gasoline for his car & generator, shopping for fresh garlic at a supermarket. We also see him replacing his mirrors, searching the city & staking Vampires (the fact that he uses a hammer on his stake verifies the Vampire theme).
As night falls we see a band of the infected attacking Morgan’s house with planks of wood, smashing his windows and calling for him to come out. He falls asleep and survives to another day, visiting a church to mourn a grave (it turns out to be his dead wife) but falls asleep and is there when night falls.
He is forced to fight his way through the graveyard back to his car (goof! tailgate is closed when it had been open when he left the car) and hurry home (he is clearly driving in daylight) where he manages to get into his home despite being attacked by many infected (lead by the same man who had attacked his house the previous night).
He then spends that night watching home movies of his dead wife and child (who we are treated to a flashback memory of), we also discover the leader of the attack was “Uncle Ben” who introduces the idea that the disease was already active in Europe and ready to attack America as it was possibly airborne.
We are told this disease is incurable. We then see Morgans daughter already ill and his wife hiding her symptoms from him. Also the theory that the infected are Vampires told by Ben.
We watch his daughters condition worsen and life in general getting worse for everyone with bodies being taken from homes to be burnt. Eventually his own daughter is taken to be burnt and when his wife dies he takes her out into the country and buries her himself. Of course that night she returns to their home having risen from the grave. That is the nightmare he awakes from to return to the present day.
After replacing his wrecked car (with an identical one) he sees an uninfected dog which he follows. He finds dead infected who had been staked. The dog returns to his home having been injured and he cares for it, raising his morale a little. Of course the dog dies but as he’s burying it he encounters an uninfected woman who returns to his home.
Her name is Ruth and she appears to be infected and eventually turns out to have a vaccine. We also find out how Morgan thought he got his immunity (from a Vampire bat bite). She warns him his house is to be attacked that night.
She turns out to be a spy for a group of infected who are still in control and able to reason, he gives her a transfusion of his own blood that cures her partial illness completely. Morgans house is attacked and he is chased into the night, being shot and injured outside the church where he was mourning his wife.
He is mortally wounded and dies in the arms of Ruth, telling her they were afraid of him. She says they didn’t know (I assume she meant that he could cure them) and walks out of the church leaving her group behind.
It’s a pretty weak ending but like all the films based on this book the hero is dead and has cured one person.