Post-Apocalyptic Movie Bracket Game: I Am Legend Vs. The Omega Man
It’s the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine. In celebration of Mad Max: Fury Road, we’re getting post-apocalyptic. So get ready to fight off zombies, scavenge for goods and run for your life! And maybe spend some quality time in an abandoned mall or Bill Murray’s house. We’re looking at what happens in movies when society crumbles. Are we replaced by apes or pod people? Is Kevin Costner a fish person or a postman? Our dystopian future is up to you.
Children of Men sent The Road packing. So it will advance to round two where it will face the winner of today’s vampire vs. mutant match.
Yesterday, I mentioned that the majority of movies in this edition of the game were adaptations of novels. Today is a little different in that both movies are adaptations of the same story, Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I Am Legend. Matheson’s novel has been adapted several times and was also influential in the development of Night of the Living Dead.
The book is about a man who has survived an apocalypse that has transformed the rest of humanity into vampires. Robert Neville continues to survive by barricading himself in his house during the night. During the day, he hunts the vampires and performs experiments on them.
I Am Legend was first adapted for the big screen in the 1964 movie, The Last Man on Earth. Vincent Price starred in what is arguably the most faithful adaptation of the book. The vampires in the movie moved slowly in a way that would help define modern zombies four years later when Romero made Night of the Living Dead.
The book was adapted again in the 1971 movie, The Omega Man. This time, Charlton Heston played the last man on earth. The vampires of the novel were changed into pale-skinned mutants with an aversion to light and technology. The movie is known for featuring one of the earliest interracial kisses in American cinema. It also fits in with Heston’s apocalyptic oeuvre of the late sixties and early seventies starting with the first Planet of the Apes in 1968 and ending with Soylent Green in 1973.
There were several attempts to do a more faithful update on I Am Legend. In the late 90’s Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly starred in a version directed by Ridley Scott. However, the project was cancelled when the studio got nervous about the budget. At the time, Scott and Schwarzenegger’s careers were cooling off so what once seemed like a slam-dunk was starting to feel like a risky gamble.
Eventually, the project was revived with Will Smith in the lead. The 2007 adaptation, I Am Legend, was the first to retain the name of the novel it was based on. Despite keeping the name of the book, the movie also made changes. The ending of the movie in particular is a departure. After test audiences disliked the original ending, a new ending was shot. The creatures were also given a more bat-like appearance.
Since 2007, there have been rumors of a prequel, sequel or spin-off. Eventually, there is sure to be another take on I Am Legend. It’s a story that keeps being retold to reflect the changing times. Which version do you prefer? Charlton Heston in The Omega Man or Will Smith in I Am Legend?