Come this Christmas,I Am Legend, a science fiction horror film starring Will Smith and based on a novel by Richard Matheson, will be hitting theaters. This will make three adaptations for Matheson's novel, the last being 1971's The Omega Man, which starred Charlton Heston. The book was first adapted for the 1964 film The Last Man on Earth, a bleak post-apocalyptic nightmare starring Vincent Price. While still taking a few liberties with the source material, the Price film is easily the more faithful of the two, and this Italian/British co-production has been a personal favorite for years.
The film opens with a series of shots depicting a city with no citizens. A few bodies lie here and there, but otherwise the streets are empty. The Marquee in front of a church reads "The End Has Come." The camera moves into a residential neighborhood and into the home of Dr. Robert Morgan (Price), the titular last man on earth whose sanity is hanging by a thread. Each night Morgan's house is assaulted by vampire-like creatures, the after effects of the global plague that has wiped out mankind. The creatures are bloodthirsty but weak and are only dangerous in numbers.