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The Omega Man (1971)

The last man on Earth is not alone

Directed by:

Boris Sagal

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

In this supposedly-horrifying vision of a post-apocalyptic future, there’s a shop somewhere doing a roaring trade in black cloaks and sunglasses. For that’s what comprises the chosen uniform of Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) and his ‘Family’, a whooping hoard of murderous nocturnal albinos. They’ve all been mutated by implied biological warfare, and as a result have decided to shun technology and ‘the wheel’ (something Matthias drones endlessly on about, despite clearly being seen to utilise both as the film progresses). For a bunch of folks who can’t stand light, they also seem to spend an awful lot of time carrying around torches and setting fire to things, but I suppose that’s beside the point.

The only normal (a word I use extremely loosely) man seemingly left alive is Charlton Heston’s Robert Neville, who hides from The Family by night and goes looting for horrendously bad tracksuits by day. He’s also obsessed with the movie ‘Woodstock’, though obviously not to the point of embracing any of that ‘peace’ nonsense, given how much time he spends shooting anything that moves. His faith in humanity is restored when, after two years of having only himself to inflict his rubbish one-liners on, he comes across a commune of fellow daytime-types, including the wooden Rosalind Cash and a bloke who insists on dressing like Biggles (Paul Koslo).

Heston’s trademark over-acting and Ron Grainer’s ridiculously inappropriate score blight any chance this film has of containing the slightest shred of tension. It’s also got some not-so-subtle racist undertones which don’t even merit going into.

As a young ‘un, I used to think ‘The Omega Man’ was actually pretty decent. Then again, I also liked fish-fingers and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, so shows what I knew. A more recent viewing of this 1971 end-of-the-world baloney showed it up for what it actually is – absolutely bloody awful. Watch Danny Boyle’s similarly-themed but infinitely superior ’28 Days Later’ instead.

It's Got: One of the few movie heroes to get away with being called ‘Neville’.

It Needs: Heston to stop laughing heartily even when NOTHING REMOTELY FUNNY HAS HAPPENED. Just watch him – he does it in practically every film he’s in. The ‘crazy b*****d’.

DVD Extras An up-to-date featurette entitled ‘The Last Man Alive’. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

28 Days Later...

Summary

Perhaps a serious production at the time, but nowadays only worth watching if you’re in need of a good laugh. This one’s hilariously bad.

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