The Last Man on Earth (1964)

LastManOnEarthPosterScientist Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the last man on Earth! Does he spend his days going on kick ass shopping sprees, cruising the wastleand in a tricked out battle van and rescuing the only fertile woman left on the planet who just happened to be a lingerie model before things fell apart?

Uh, no, he’s puttering about his house sharpening wooden stakes, loading the door up with fresh garlic, and playing with his shortwave radio. Most embarassing of all, he drives a station wagon. Remember when you thought Armageddon would be super awesome? Sheesh. What a let down!

Some type of plague has either killed everyone or turned them into a vampire, with Morgan being the lone exception. Towards the end of the movie he theorizes that he was immune to the plague because he was bitten by a vampire bat and that has something to do with the plague.

Of course there is nothing mentioned about the plague that would lead you to believe that vampire bats had anything to do with it. This whole idea is kind of hokey when you actually break it down. I mean, a plague that causes you to die, come back to life thirsting for blood, but also leaving you vulnerable to all the traditional defenses against vampires such as wooden stakes, garlic, mirrors, and crosses? That’s not a disease, that’s a silly movie gimmick.

It’s been three long years since Morgan began to battle these creatures. We know that because he has written a calendar on the wall of his house. You’d think he’d just be able to drive down to Staples and take a planner or something what with him being the last man on Earth and all.

Morgan needs some more fresh garlic, so he goes grocery shopping. I was surprised that even three years later, the grocery store would still have three giant tubs full of fresh garlic, but then I remembered that the movie was shot in Rome and it all made sense.

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He drives a station wagon because he needs to use it as a hearse to ferry all the corpses he stabs to the open pits that burn continuously, fed by the bodies he dumps into them.

These scenes are genuinely creepy with Morgan donning a gas mask and heaving corpses over the cliff into these fiery pits. The sense of hopelessness as he does this is overwhelming. For every corpse he incinerates he drives by five more laying in the streets.

As he drives through the city, we see wrecked cars, empty streets, and deserted buildings. There is also very little sound. Most of the first part of the movie is Morgan doing a voice over so that we can hear what he’s thinking.

Of course, as so often happens in these films, they overdo it a bit and so there is a scene where you actually see tumbleweed blow across the road! Come on! Is this the old west or something? I kept waiting for Wyatt Earp to challenge one of these vampires to a gunfight at high noon!

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Back home, Morgan settles in for a nice evening of booze and home movies. He watches his wife (tragically, she has a Jackie O hairdo) and his daughter at the kid’s birthday party. His friend Ben is there and everyone is happy and soon Morgan is upset and boo-hooing a bunch and then we close in on his face and we flashback to a time when the plague was still a few months away.

Back in the present, Morgan finds a dog! It’s a black poodle that is just the cutest little snookums you’ve ever seen! Morgan takes it inside, cleans it up and is delighted to have a friend.

Morgan checks out the dog’s hair under a microscope and starts to laugh. The next scene is of Morgan dumping a snookums-sized bag into the ground and burying it! The apocalypse can be such a bummer sometimes!

But wait, he sees a woman! She’s out in the daytime so she isn’t a vampire and he chases her down. Her name is Ruth and he takes her home.

Eventually she pulls a gun on him and reveals her double-crossing ways! (Even when you’re the only guy left on the planet, a woman will play you if she gets the chance!)

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The Last Man on Earth is an apocalypse of apathy what with the whiny Morgan moping around his cruddy house for three years fending off half-hearted attempts by vampires to break through his half-hearted defenses. (Three years and the best you can muster is some two by fours sparodically nailed up over your windows?)

And what was he doing in the same place for three years when the vampires knew where he was and attacked his house every night? Why wouldn’t he make some attempt to leave a city full of these things in search of other survivors? It surely wouldn’t be any less safe to do than the pointless and tedious trips he made every day to hunt down the vampires in the city.

While Price is fine when the movie requires him to bore the viewer with his crying jags and his whining, the agonzingly few times he’s required to be a man of action, he’s completely unconvincing. When your sluggish end times movie climaxes with a guy throwing smoke bombs like a girl, humanity has already lost.

© 2014MonsterHunter

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