The Omega Man (1971) Poster

(1971)

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Is your blood that colour?
waugh2415 June 2004
People knock this film. Yes it has many flaws but some slack should be cut. It was 1971, Hollywood was in a desperate time of recession and change. 'Easy Rider' had blown a hole in the side of the school of thought that the studios had subscribed to. Suddenly, story material that would never have been tackled by the major studios prior to this time was emerging.

'The Omega Man' was of course an adaptation of Matheson's novel and is a second film version of it. But the technical challenges were vast. Find a time of day when L.A.'s deserted? Do me a favor! It's a miracle they got anything decent on film. Yes there are distant cars in the back of that zoom out at the top of the film but these guys didn't have computers did they?

Anyway, Heston looks amusingly dated in the role of Neville wearing his safari jacket and skintight tracksuit while he prowls the 'deserted' streets. The thing about Chuck is he just LOOKS like a film star. Just driving a car he grabs your attention. The supporting cast here are less engaging. An afro and 'Hey man' too many perhaps. The writers seemed desperate to tap into 70s pop culture. A sure-fire way to date your film.

The camera crew on this film must have gone straight onto 'Quincy' after they'd finished this. It's bizarre. There are dolly moves for no reason whatsoever (when Heston first enters his apartment and later before he discovers the sardine tin), zooms that hit the end stop so hard they almost bounce back and roving pans where you actually feel for the operator while he tries to find where the hell Chuck's car's gone. But this is one of the things that makes 70s cinema so great. The raw elements of film-making are on display.

Ron Grainer's score is genius in places and god awful in others. It goes from the brilliant main title theme to the woeful chase music when Heston pursues the leading lady. There's also the typically almost pink-tinted blood. Why couldn't they get blood right back then?

'The Omega Man' is an engaging, thought-provoking but very dated piece of cinema. The last image of Heston is immortal even if the film's hair-dos are not. Watch it, enjoy it and cut it some slack.
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8/10
Flawed Wonderland
Bryan L Cook1 January 2005
A film that can't help but aim too high, "The Omega Man" suffers from the very thing that makes it great. Set in a post-apocalyptic future (for the audience of 1971) the film attempts to show a world populated by a single solitary man. Well, a man and a cult of malcontented zombie/mutant/vampire beings. Robert Neville (Heston) is the lone survivor of a germ war that turned the population of the world into freaks. Based on the amazingly brilliant book "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, the film shares most of the qualities of the book, yet excludes the portions that make "Legend" fantastic.

The idea of being the last man is intriguing. I used to fantasize about being Neville as a child (probably not the healthiest thing for a kid). Neville has paradise, but with the highest price possible. He can have anything he wants, but no one to share it with. And come night time, he must hide in his fortress away from the angry mob of mutants.

The apocalyptic world that makes the first half so captivating is destroyed by the second half's plot device. I won't go into details for those who haven't seen it. However, I will say the film starts to slide downhill from the mid-way point. But the lesser parts can be enjoyed as early 70's camp.

Even with its faults, "The Omega Man" is a great Sci-fi movie. It also gives Heston a chance to play his quintessential role of a man at the end of civilization. The film's weaknesses don't ruin the experience entirely. It is a film that myself and my friends talk about to this day despite the fact that most of my friends only saw it once or twice (when forced by me).

Related note: I Am Legend was also made into the film "The Last Man on Earth" starring Vincent Price. "Omega Man" is discussed in the first scene of indie-film classic "Slacker."
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9/10
Sci Fi Action At Its Explosive Best!
Dan1863Sickles24 May 2005
This action packed and thought-provoking sci-fi drama has been one of my personal favorites for over 30 years. Charlton Heston found his definitive role here, as the last man on earth, a scientist fighting a single handed battle against hundreds of mutant creatures of the night.

On the basic level, this movie has some of the most explosive action I have ever seen. Heston is at his best as a bloodless technocrat, a stone killer, "exterminating" mutants with machine guns, pistols, grenades, and his bare hands, all the time giving off an icy air of detachment. Put Chuck up against Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson and he definitely holds his own purely as a Seventies action hero.

On the other hand, this is also Chuck's best performance as an actor. The fact that he literally has the screen to himself for the first half hour allows him to do things he never did in his "epic star" mode. Watch him buy that used car, making small talk with a rotted corpse. Chuck puts across so much loneliness and yet entirely avoids self- pity, as in "thanks a lot, you cheating bastard." It's a scream to watch the bigger than life Moses dealing with life's everyday hassles, not in reality but in wistful fantasy.

Then watch the WOODSTOCK scene in the movie theater. Here's right wing idealist Charlton Heston watching left-wing hippies dance and frolic. Here's the last man on earth watching huge mobs of people crowd up the world that is now empty. The ironies are razor sharp, and Heston just lies back and lets the dialog work for him. "Just to see, just to really realize, that if you have to be afraid to smile at someone, if you have to be afraid to walk down the street, what kind of world is that? Right?" Note well the master's restraint. He doesn't sneer, he puts much more sadness into the lip-reading bit, with a little self-loathing on the side. The dialog and situation are tailor-made for Heston's cold decisive vocal style. It's not hammy stuff, it's Heston giving you the same kind of chill Deniro achieved in TAXI DRIVER. It's the paranoid loner as tragic hero. This cold withdrawn stuff is right down his power alley, and Chuck sends this scene into the upper decks.

Once the movie gets started, Heston gets superb assistance from Anthony Zerbe as the religious fanatic Brother Matthias. Zerbe is superb and the commentary on religious fanaticism is even more relevant today than it was thirty years ago. Then there's the sizzling racial subplot, the kill-whitey fanaticism of Brother Zachary striking far too close to home in 1973 but remaining as provocative as ever today. It's disturbing indeed to note the subliminal message of the inter-racial love affair -- the nice white man is happy to take care of the black woman and her children, but only after the assertive black man is dead. A movie that provokes, entertains, and combines scorching social issues with rip-roaring adventure, THE OMEGA MAN is Heston's best.

"Nope -- they sure don't make pictures like that any more."
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Now playing: "The Night Creatures"
lemon99331 May 2004
One of these days soon we will see another remake of Richard Matheson's seminal Horror novella. If we do, I hope the marquee will read: "I Am Legend." This should be done for no other reason than to make it easier for Sci-Fi nerds to argue and champion their personal favorite. But I have this feeling the producers will take the easy way out.

Boris Sagal, the veteran television director, who died under the most grisly of circumstances--he walked into a helicopter blade--helms a brilliant adaptation of the book. Sure, they changed the vampires into psychotic albinos. And they also injected a heavy dose of the Seventies counter-culture. But the essential themes resist the tampering by the new screenwriters and remain solid story chestnuts. No one handles a weapon with such verve as Mr. Heston. He fires at random and generally hits something. Always a good approach in this type of movie. I enjoy his conversations with Caesar's bust in his "Honky paradise". The sculptures and paintings on the walls are actual reproductions of the immortals they represent. Also, check out the art work on the back of "Dutch's" jacket. It packs a wallop. Ron Grainer's score is legendary and has a elegiac feel punctuated by strange sounds from obscure instruments. The action scenes rival the best. Catch Heston's despair and loneliness when he jogs by a large office building along side a reflecting pool. Every scene is chock full of memorable lines and quirky bits of business. The bodies of the dead pop up randomly with a wild note on the soundtrack. There is a brief nude scene that for once fits into the plot. A standing ovation is in order for anyone left alive.
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6/10
Thought-provoking, violent sci-fi story.
Jonathon Dabell1 May 2005
Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, so the "Omega" Man is a round-a-bout way of saying The "Last" Man. Indeed, this violent science fiction actioner is a remake of a 1964 movie called The Last Man On Earth; in this version Charlton Heston assumes the role played by Vincent Price in the earlier film. It is a depressing - and in many ways thought-provoking - story set in a future where the human population has been wiped out.

Robert Neville (Heston) is the only remaining survivor of a worldwide plague, other than a race of vampiric mutants who come out at night. When the plague was first reaching epidemic proportions, numerous scientists were given serums to try - Neville was the one who got the correct serum, but he never managed to get back to HQ in time to report the good news. Most of the world's people went on to be killed by the plague, but those who survived have evolved into light-sensitive mutants. Every day, Neville drives around the empty streets of LA scavenging for food, fuel and useful objects; every night he returns to his ultra high-security house from which he fends off the creepy minions who come out to taunt him and, perhaps, one day kill him. The mutants are led by Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), formerly a TV newsreader, now an anti-technology crusader who encourages his followers to destroy the scientific and technological items they find, as he blames meddling scientists for ultimately decimating the world's population.

What's so chilling about The Omega Man is that Neville is gradually shown to be the real "mutant". He is the only man left from the world as it WAS; Zerbe and his mutant hordes are the evolutionary creatures of the world as it IS. Distressing as it is, The Omega Man is saying that in the event of a worldwide catastrophe human life would find a way to prevail, but the remnants of previous human life might need eradicating first. From the sensational opening - in which Heston screeches his car to a halt on an empty street and starts shooting at an unseen being in a skyscraper - to the climax (which is simultaneously happy AND sad), The Omega Man constantly raises questions and manipulates our fears. It has weaknesses - sometimes the metaphors and morals are too heavy-handed; parts of the film are slow-going, with an excess of talk which merely goes over plot details already mentioned; there are dated elements (music, decor, costumes, vehicles, slang speech) which deny the film its topicality over 30 years on. But, in spite of all that, The Omega Man remains a worthwhile sci-fi actioner and another cult flick in the Charlton Heston "shock sci-fi" canon (see also Planet of the Apes '68 and Soylent Green '73).
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10/10
Inspirational, hopeful, tragic, brilliant...a masterpiece
annualman3 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
The greatest movie of all time?? Well, probably not, but certainly the most influential on my life back in the mid 70s when I first caught it on British television. Charlton Heston is awesome in his role of Robert Neville, and the musical score is outstanding. The story itself may seem a little dated these days, but its religious analogies stand up well even in today's more effects laden times.

SPOILERS: The final sequence, as Neville is brutally killed by the leader of the vampire community Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) came as a genuine shock to me, but its underlying hopefulness for the future at least compensates some way for this. I cried and cried when Neville died. Even now when I watch the film, the bleak feeling which runs as an undercurrent throughout, never ceases to move me with the tragedy of the ending.

This was Heston's best, in my opinion even surpassing Planet of the Apes, and many times more entertaining than the dreadful Soylent Green (sorry but I really didn't like that one). I really believe that the films you see when you are between 12 and 16 remain with you forever, because its the most impressionable time of your life. At least it was for me. I love this film, always did, always will. Quite honestly 10 out of 10. Though I may well be the only person who thinks this....lol
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Now this is a Cool Movie
Nozze-Musica29 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Charlton Heston just has that presence, that arrogant demeanor where he screams at the world that doesn't understand what is going on. Some might think it becomes annoying but it actually works very well in this movie. The Omega Man is actually a unique little look at the world, which here is populated by one man, Charlton Heston. For a Science Fiction movie this movie is pretty deep. He is combating a group of zombies that seek to kill all humans.

The zombies think that the human beings and their machines have caused the world to go into disarray and that because of it the humans must be destroyed. While the zombie types are evil they make some sense, after all the reason they were zombies are on account of germ warfare. The movie is surprisingly effective for a movie with a 70s wack-a-dum soundtrack, and manages a lot of thrills the old-fashioned way: through no special effects.

Charlton Heston also manages to be an interesting character. He seems to be a man in a bit of a conflict, a military man who has no choice but to defend himself, but also a scientist, an imminently intelligent man who seems weary of all of the fighting. He goes through the streets of Los Angeles with all of the products in all of the stores available to him for free. After all who's left to charge him? He seems a little crazy, and he probably is, after all he has gone years without sex, that would drive a lot of men crazy. The action sequences in this movie are cool. There isn't any karate, no Matrix slow motion, just beating people up, and a cool motorcycle ride through Dodger Stadium, where Heston escapes execution, as does Reggie Jackson, haha. I digress.

Germ warfare was something far ahead of it's time. The black and white context of this Science Fiction movie also adds a great dimension to this film. The symbolism of the ending where Heston is essentially crucified saving mankind is appropriate, though some will find it silly. This isn't an Oscar winner but this is a fun little Science Fiction movie that will make you think.
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9/10
The Last Hope of the Earth in an Apocalyptic Story
Claudio Carvalho3 October 2004
In 1977, the American scientist and colonel Dr. Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) is the last man on Earth. All the human race died or became mutants due to the use of biological weapons in a war. During the war, Dr. Neville was researching an experimental vaccine, and in a flight to a hospital to use his latest experiment, the pilot of his helicopter died and the helicopter crashed. Dr. Neville used the vaccine on himself and it worked, making him the last survivor of human race. The race of mutants self-calls 'The Family' and is leaded by the fanatic Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) in the middle-ages standards, without the use of any facility of the Twentieth Century. Dr. Neville finds some other survivors and intends to use the anti-corpus of his blood to prepare vaccines for them. The apocalyptic story has a tragic open end.

Yesterday I saw this movie maybe for the tenth time. In my opinion, it is one of the best Apocalyptic Sci-Fi movies of the 70's (together with 'Soylent Green'), when the world had the cold war to threaten and the population had a great fear of a biological weapons. In Brazil, 'The Omega Man' has not been released on VHS or DVD, and I have a VHS, recorded from the open Brazilian TV in the 80's, dubbed in Portuguese, with a terrible image, but what else can I do to see this movie if the distributors and the cable TV do not show interest to release it in my country? For persons of other native languages like me, I would like to explain the original title of the movie. In accordance with 'The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary', omega is not only the 24th and final letter in the Greek alphabet, but also means the ending, the last of anything. I hope that Tom Cruise does not spoil this magnificent story, since I heard he had the intention of preparing (or spoiling) a remake. Remake of good movies should be forbidden! My vote is nine.

Today (06 September 2006) I have watched "The Omega Man" again, now in the original language.

Title (Brazil): 'A Última Esperança da Terra' ('The Last Hope of the Earth')
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8/10
The Last Man On Earth Is Hunting
ewarn-11 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Chuck Heston is too cool to be the ALPHA MALE, so he becomes the OMEGA MAN!!! Reasons why this film is a masterpiece of apocalyptic sci fi and a damn good promotional for the NRA: SEE: Chuck Heston prowl the streets of Los Angeles in his smooth rides (Lincoln, Mustang, Dodge Weapons Carrier)looking for murderous mutants and decked out in his mod safari jacket, shades and submachine gun! SEE: Chuck bridge the generation gap as he digs Country Joe and the Fish at a private screening of 'Woodstock'!

SEE: Chuck in his penthouse suite, wearing a green velvet smoking jacket and ruffled shirt, as he swills whiskey and endures the taunts of the legions of the undead! HEAR: Chuck crack wise as a prisoner of the Luddite zombies, just before he's burnt at the stake! Other priceless scenes worth watching: the zombie who envies Chuck's penthouse as a 'honky paradise' Chuck smirking as a news anchor pontificates about the end of the world, Chuck socializing with bronze statues and putting the moves on mannequins, plenty of gunplay and CHUCK'S RAGE!!! You don't like this flick....maybe Chuck (The Omega Man) will come and beat you up.
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10/10
Chuck's glory days
themook2474 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
**MINOR spoilers** Along with Soylent Green and the Planet Of The Apes movies, The Omega Man represents Chuck Heston in fine form. This movie continues to influence others even today. The basic story involves Chuck as possibly the last man on earth trying to survive against albino mutants who despise the technology that ravaged the world(and Heston).

Let's get one thing nice and sparkling clear: Chuck Heston is a ham. Deal with it. It works unbelievably well in this sci-fi classic for an aging, stubborn badass survivor. Chuck is losing his mind from loneliness and killing mutants day in/day out. He is also a man of science and the only(?) uninfected human left. Anthony Zerbe is great as the preacher/leader of the rotting horde. Rosalind Cash has surprising acting ability, tons of attitude, and thankfully, a complete willingness to be nude or near-nude several times. Although another reviewer said if you squint, she could pass for Pam Grier, they're obviously insane as Pam Grier is stacked, so to speak, whereas Cash could use a sandwich or two.

The real appeal besides the interesting, very relevant premise, "spooky" deserted Los Angeles, and pretty daring racial content and dialogue, is...Chuck. Forget the car way in the distance, the makeup/effects are capable. If you want a thought-provoking, sometimes hilarious, action-packed sci-fi movie with great camera work...SEE Chuck run, SEE Chuck shoot lots of people, SEE Chuck grimace, sneer, and bare his huge choppers; SEE Chuck crash multiple vehicles on land AND air, SEE Chuck toss one-liners left and right like grenades, SEE chuck in frilly clothes(briefly), SEE Chuck the Mack, SEE Chuck in a Jesus Christ pose...SEE The Omega Man.
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