The Omega Man (1971)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting adaptation

Story lulls at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Omega Man

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  August 1, 1971

MPAA Rating:  PG


I’m Charlton Heston and the only thing this fire is doing is pissing me off!!!

The world is over, and Neville (Charlton Heston) is the last man on Earth…but he’s not alone.  Neville was able to take a serum protecting him from a deadly virus that has transformed much of the population into creatures that can only live in the night.  Led by a man called Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), Neville spends his days exploring the abandoned Los Angeles.  When he encounters another group of survivors and a girl named Lisa (Rosalind Cash), Neville learns that there could be hope for the survival of the race.


Should we kill him? No, let’s just stare at him a while…

Directed by Boris Sagal, The Omega Man is an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend.  The film was previously made into a movie in 1964 entitled The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price.  The film crosses many genres including science fiction, action, and is sometimes even classified as a blaxploitation due to the relationship between Heston and Cash (the movie also is noted for featuring a very early interracial kiss).  The movie received mixed reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.

I Am Legend is a tricky book.  The story is pretty downbeat and it is hard to make a story that can be satisfying to movie-goers while keeping the original story’s path.  Here, the basic concepts of I Am Legend are maintained, but there are enough changes that The Omega Man almost feels like its own entity.


You’ve had your chance humanity…now it’s our turn!

The story swaps vampire-esque enemies for zombie-esque enemies (who also don’t like the like).  Other than kind of being rotten and looking like albinos, you don’t really get a sense that anti-humans are much different than the humans (which could be argued is the point of the film).  What is frustrating about The Omega Man is that it falls into the general horror movie stereotypes in the plot…just when you think the characters are going to live “happily ever after” someone does an incredibly dumb thing, and everything goes to hell…it is a bit pointless in that sense.

Charlton Heston continues to do his best Charlton Heston imitation.  Like a lot of “old Hollywood” (and new Hollywood for that matter), Heston almost always is himself in movies.  He is brash, booming, and flashing his giant smile.  It is an interesting pairing to have him with Rosalind Cash to tap into the popular blaxploitation films of the time and she was allegedly uncomfortable “kissing Moses”.  Anthony Zerbe always plays a good, creepy villain and you just wish that Eric Laneuville’s “Richie” had died earlier.


I might be an albino zombie thing, but I look fabulous!

The visuals for the movie range from good to weak.  There is something inherently creepy about the albino humans, but they also look pretty goofy at the same time.  The movie also does some nice stuff early on to present an abandoned Los Angeles (shot on a weekend to avoid closing down the city).

The Omega Man is a movie that is almost really good but still manages to linger in the so-so range.  It is a bit of a frustrating movie that searches for content and often feels like it is dragging its feet to keep the movie going to the messy ending.  Despite this, the movie does build a real atmosphere and feels bigger than the budget probably was.  I still think I’d watch The Omega Man over other versions of I Am Legend which includes the Will Smith remake released in 2007.

Related Links:

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

I Am Legend (2007)

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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