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I Am Legend (2007) -vs- The Omega Man (1971) -vs- The Last Man on Earth (1964)

December 15, 2007 Bryce Zabel 6

Don’t you just hate it when flesh-eating zombies force you to stay home at night like some kind of shut-in?

Richard Matheson’s original 1954 novel, I Am Legend, put ideas into the 50s zeitgeist that have stayed with us, spawned spin-offs, rip-offs and re-makes. Even horror master Stephen King was influenced mightily by it. After years of starting and stopping, they finally got a film in theaters that used the original, powerful title that the writer himself felt was appropriate for his work.

That film is, of course, I Am Legend. It follows a lineage of trying to adapt the brilliant original literary vision to film with spotty success (at least, critically); from the 60s version made in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis; to the 70s version where Charlton Heston brought his post-Planet of the Apes sci-fi cred to the endeavor; to this post-millennial version which wants to do what all the others set out to do but fell short of, but with today’s fears, not yesterday’s. These are three films that say as much about who we were at the time of their production as they do about the actual films themselves. One thing they prove, however, is that flesh-eating zombies just never go out of style. […]

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