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19 October 2011

The Omega Man (1971)

It's the end of the world. Civilization has been laid waste by the plague to end all plagues. Scientists have unwittingly created a biological weapon so powerful that it's wiped out most of the world's population.

Most, but not all...

The Omega Man: Colonel Robert Neville has survived!

Charlton Heston as Colonel Robert Neville
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

Having crawled out of the burning wreckage of a helicopter crash, Bob Neville injects himself with a trial antidote and ends up immune. How's that for beating all the odds. But 'speedy' Bob Neville isn't as lucky as you might think!

The film starts with Neville racing around a deserted Los Angeles in a very cool red Ford LTD. Unfortunately he's half mad. He's talking to himself, hearing things and shooting his machine gun at shadows.

It's not good.

And when he gets sidetracked in a cinema to emerge as the sun is setting it's clear that he's made a big mistake. Oh dear! Why is he so desperate to get home to the protection of his apartment? What on Earth can he be scared of?

Lincoln Kilpatrick as Zachary
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

I won't keep you in suspenders...

This time it isn't vampires that come out at night, but instead some crazy white-haired albino plague-survivors called 'the Family'. These guys are intent on destroying every reminder of the Science that ruined their beloved planet. Unfortunately for Bob Neville, this includes him.

Some of what I've just mentioned above will be familiar to those of you to have read Richard Matheson's inspirational novel: I am Legend. The Omega Man is the second film adaptation. On this occasion the story doesn't stick too closely to that of the book... but that's okay; There are enough references hidden inside to keep Legend geeks happy.
'Speedy' Bob Neville
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

The Omega Man is set in the future... 1977 to be exact. Well that was the future back when it was filmed in 1971! The setting is wonderfully stylized. I love the shots of 'dead' Los Angeles with all those bits of paper blowing all over the place. Where did they come from? It's a mystery...

And being the sucker I am for this era... I love the fashion too. What I wouldn't do for a tracksuit like Charlton's!

Rosalind Cash as Lisa
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

I won't tell you much more about the plot other than to say that the last man on Earth ends up meeting the last woman on Earth in the shape of the stunning Rosalind Cash. There's an interracial kiss between the two which would have been a talking point at the time this film first hit cinemas, and then Charlton raises the bar by going for gold.
"You watch yourself...
You stay on the ground floor, near the doors and in the light.
You see anything... Shoot!"

Charlton has a Morrissey moment
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

So let's round this one off...

This film was a flop when it was released. I guess the world wasn't ready for it. Well it is now!

When I watched this in my early teens I was blown away by it. This is a classic and a must-watch for any self-respecting fan of things Apocalyptic.

On the Triple-B I'm going to take out 6 of 'the Family' with my trusty BAR M1918 Variant rifle complete with M3 infrared starlight scope, minus the standard issue bipod.

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