219. The Last Man on Earth (US/Italy 1964)

Director: Ubaldo Ragona (yes, THE Ubalda Ragona)

starring: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, lots of unknown Italians

Screenplay: William Leicester, Richard Matheson (as Logan Swanson??), Furio M.Monetti, Ubaldo Ragona - yes! THE Ubaldo Ragona)

Man burns corpses by day and fights vampires by night.

Another (well, the first) dodgy version of Matheson's ace novel I Am Legend.

Price is completely the wrong choice for the role of central character Robert Neville (and called Robert Morgan for some strange reason in this version), but a more likely choice than Charlton Heston (The Omega Man) or Will fucking Smith (the upcoming adaptation of the novel - let's home he does a similar sterling job as he did for Brian Aldiss's I, Robot) or even Arnold Schwarzenneger in Ridley Scott's mooted version).

Price tries to avoid camping up the role, and therefore just comes across as being weird. The film is fairly faithful to some sections of the book and on the grimy version I saw (on the cutting edge Open Access channel) the poor quality of the print and sound gave the film a nightmarish quality akin to Carnival of Souls.

In The Last Man, Morgan is routinely attacked by night by vampires (as opposed to the mutants of The Omega Man) and the film shares the same concerns of the novel (loss, loneliness, the nature and perception of who or what is 'normal' and who or what represents evil) and there is lots of vampiric iconography.

The main problems concern the central casting and the poor quality production values.

Worth watching, if only to see the difference between a film with a little bit of soul and the Will Smith/Burger King franchise garbage* due in the summer (2007).

*I hope I'm wrong.