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Bob Morgan (Vincent Price) is apparently the last man still alive on earth,
all other humans have either died from some terrible disease or have been turned
to classic vampires (with all the usual weaknesses like hating mirrors, garlic
& especially daylight, & dying only when being properly staked).
3 years now Bob has spent his days travelling the city & staking vampires
by the dozen & the night reminiscing over the good old times, while his
best friend Ben (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), now a vampire, continuously bangs on
his door, trying to get in.
Years ago they were colleagues in a research lab
trying to find a cure for the disease, but by & by, Bob had to see his
daughter (Christi Courtland) & his wife (Emma Danieli) die, & his wife
returning as a vampire - as did Ben eventually -, his once perfect world
turning into a perfect nightmare ...
But one day, Bob finds the first signs
of other people still alive ... that is he finds dead vampires staked by stakes
that are not his. & eventually, Bob even finds a woman, Ruth (Franca
Bettoia) wandering around in broad daylight, & he drags her back with him
to his house.
Soon though he finds out that not all is well even though -
Ruth is not only infected, she is in fact a vampire that is able to live a
human life only because of a special serum. & he finds out there are other
such vampires too, calling themselves the New People ... & they want
his knowledge, but when he offers to Ruth to voluntarily share it, she tells
him, for them he is the biggest monster of them all, having killed many of
their friends on his daily staking expeditions ... they only want his
knowledge, but him ... dead.
Nevertheless, Bob, sparked by his unexpected
companion, takes up work on the serum again, & soon finds a cure for Ruth
... but too late, an armed batallion of the New People already stops at
his doorstep, & they mercilessly chase him & gun him down. Only in
death can he see that he really was the biggest monster of them all ...
novel on which this movie was based on, I am Legend by Richard Matheson,
is in equal parts fascinating (the last human on earth, upholding the values of
humanity, is also the biggest monster on earth) & downright cheesy (the
insistance on using the vampire lore as a narrative ploy).
The film on the
other hand boasts some atmospheric pictures but suffers from too slow pacing
& too many talky passages, which really takes much of the impact out of
the story. Only Vincent Price, who would perhaps not spring into anyone's mind
for a role such as this, gives a very convincing, restrained performance.
that said, this film definitely fares better than the 1970's
big budget Amreican version of the story, Omega Man, that loses all the
novel's message somewhere along the way.
I am Legend is said to also
have been a major influence on Night of the Living Dead, which even
might be true to a point, but generally the novel's influence, if brought up,