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· Resident Curmudgeon
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TCM, for some arcane reason, is running a post-apocalyptic movie night tonight. They opened with The Omega Man, the movie adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend. It's been made into movies at least four times, and was the inspiration for Roger Corman's Night of the Living Dead. Making a long story short, as the result of a biowar virtually all of humanity is either dead to transformed into creatures who are blind by day and react badly to sunlight, but are fine at night.

The story is set in Los Angeles, and follows a US Army research doctor who is both trying to stay alive and devise a serum to cure the survivors of the biologic agent that transformed them. Unfortunately, the nightwalkers in L.A. are under the influence of an insane prophet named Matthias who has convinced them they have been chosen by God to redeem the world and start over again, rejecting technology higher than the Dark Ages. But that is not my point.

When the movie begins, the doctor has survived in a depopulated Los Angeles for two years. He has set himself up in a penthouse apartment with its own garage, and installed a diesel generator in the basement powerful enough to support his penthouse, the garage, and the elevator in the building, which can be manually switched on and off. He can move around the city with a reasonable amount of impunity by day, and the nightwalkers can't get at him as long as he stays in the light. At night, he holes up in his apartment, which is protected by doors welded shut, blocked windows, barbed wire, and heavy machine guns. This does not prevent Matthias's nightwalkers from coming after the doctor, because they have learned where he lives; but it does make attempts to capture and execute him as the last representative of technological man costly to the nightwalkers. Please note that these nightwalkers still have working brains; they are not zombies and they are not vampires, even if Matthias has them brainwashed to do his bidding a la Charles Manson and the Manson Family.

What can be learned from this film?

To begin with, there's a lot of hubris in the doctor's continuing to inhabit a known location when the bad guys know where he lives. I think we can all agree that given the parameters of the villains, he would have done better to get out of town and set up his base somewhere where he can establish a beaten fire zone where he can put his heavy military weaponry to good use, preferably underground, or at least made out of non-flammable materials. One of the military bases east or south of Los Angeles might be ideal. Heading into the mountains northeast of L.A. might do. He would be close enough to the city to mine it for food, medical supplies, research equipment, etc. but far enough away that the nightwalkers probably would not be able to find him or trail him. There are tricks we all know to make it difficult to track him back to his base/home.

He also might be able to set up some kind of a truck garden, perhaps even farm animals. (It was not established that animals are vulnerable to the sme pathogen which wiped out humanity.) Yes, with humanity wiped out there is enough canned food in warehouses and stores in the Greater Los Angeles area to feed him for the rest of his life, not even taking what is on the shelves of homes in the city into account. Think of the onlies in the Star Trek TOS episode Miri. The kids had been on their own for a couple of hundred years without leaving the city/town they were in, probably more than a hundred of them originally, maybe twenty or so remaining at the start of the episode; and only then were they coming to the end of the food supply. If he went out into the Imperial Valley he could farm whatever he liked, pick one farm as his base, set up defenses, and go about his self-imposed mission of finding a cure for the nightwalkers in more safety than hanging out in a dead city.

He never went anywhere unarmed, favoring a Carl Gustav M45 submachine gun as his personal sidearm, though he also used an M1911A1 and what looked like a BAR with infrared sights against the nightwalkers. Surprisingly, he made no use of hand grenades, though on one occasion he used some sort of pyrotechnic satchel charge. Even granting he is a military doctor, he was proficient enough with weapons to set up Ma Deuces at his penthouse and kill the bad guys with a minimum expenditure of ammunition. No infinite repeaters in that movie! He also was smart enough to know there is no cavalry to come over the hill blowing the Charge, so engaged only when he must. Short bursts, center mass, move on.

So, as I see it he did two dumb things and one smart one. Two years in the post-apocalyptic city had taught him to shoot straight, but they didn't teach him that when you're the mouse at the cat show, you don't go out of your way to attract the attention of the cats. That may be the most important lesson The Omega Man has to teach us.
 

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When I watched the movie with my wife many years ago, near the end of the movie when the doctor was outside on the ground, and Mattias was on the balcony of the doctors apartment, doc goes to shoot him with the Thompson, and it jams. I turned to my wife and said "Now he's gonna pull his .45 out of the holster and blast him" Didn't happen. Mattias chucked a spear at him instead.
Lesson to be learned? Always have a freakin' backup weapon and be proficient with it. End of the movie annoyed me at the time, and still annoys me to this day!
 

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It's been made into movies at least four times, and was the inspiration for Roger Corman's Night of the Living Dead.
<Adjusts nerd glasses> The great George Romero (The Crazies, The Dark Half, Season of the Witch, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow, etc) directed Night of the Living Dead, alongside John Russo who did most of the "living Dead" titled sequels. Roger Corman, while responsible for many of my favorite flicks, never did zombie movies.

The whole point of most adaptations of "I Am Legend" is that the main character is ignorant of the fact that HE is the boogie man. This version of the character is just plain ignorant. His plan is to survive in his fortress - that the mutants know about - and when he finally decides that is a bad idea, he plans on living in the woods. I don't see a lot of redeeming ideas.
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
When I watched the movie with my wife many years ago, near the end of the movie when the doctor was outside on the ground, and Mattias was on the balcony of the doctors apartment, doc goes to shoot him with the Thompson, and it jams. I turned to my wife and said "Now he's gonna pull his .45 out of the holster and blast him" Didn't happen. Mattias chucked a spear at him instead.
Lesson to be learned? Always have a freakin' backup weapon and be proficient with it. End of the movie annoyed me at the time, and still annoys me to this day!
That annoyed me too. He has an M1911A1 and the distance is not that long. Aim for his head, the round should hit in the torso. Move to cover behind the fountain first while Matthias is up there shouting at him.

Another WTF factor: Matthias throwing the spear and hitting Heston in the chest. As shown in the movie, the nightwalkers rely on knives/machetes/axes to do their killing, unless they have an auto-da-fe, a ceremonial execution, as they wanted to do with Heston. That spear looks both homemade and butt-heavy. It's not balanced like the African spears (I have two Masai spears in my collection, one for use against lions, one for use against humans) you see in the movies involving African warriors. I'm thinking of Mogambo here, the scene where Clark Gable has to prove he is courageous and worthy to rent canoes and command tribesmen by standing still in front of a backstop with outstretched arms while the tribesmen throw spears at him, aiming close but not trying to kill him. Those tribesmen have trained for YEARS with their spears and could probably do the William Tell with him - well, with a melon instead of an apple, but a spear is larger than a crossbow bolt. But director Boris Sagal expects us to believe that the Charles Manson clone Matthias, who has not been seen to use weapons in the film, is good enough with a spear to hit Heston in the chest at a range of at least 15 yards and on a downward trajectory? That, in my opinion, stretches the Believability Factor past the breaking point!

I still think the movie has lessons to teach us; but they are mostly negative ones, as PHD quite properly notes.
 

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Charlton Heston was great.
Guess it was a mater of a single person with no support surviving where he was.
Once he had a support group he should have moved out to where they were.
It was probably far enough away considering the cult that was out to kill them did not believe in using tech. So they just could not drive out there.
 

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Well after reading your post just had to put it on.
Will Smiths movie was a poor knock off. I can tell that from the first 10 seconds.
Well time for a coffee and some milk biscuits and back to the movie!
The Will Smith version had potential. The original ending was different from the theatrical one, and in my opinion, superior. It's funny that of all the movies that adapted, or were influenced by, the book, the hammy Vincent Price one was the most faithful.

The second most faithful would probably be, ironically, a Morgan-centric episode of Walking Dead.

They were going to start filming a sequel to the Will Smith movie this year, but I haven't heard anything since "the slap."
 

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the problem with the Omega man was he was trying to figure out a way to save the bad guys by making a serum to counteract the virus.

anyone wanting to survive the mouse game should know enough to blow up the stadium where the cats all live during the day.

besides he was a horrible doctor.
he was walking around with the cure inside him all that time, and he knew it, yet he kept on dicking around with all those chemicals.
bout as dumb as that kid riding off on his bike by himself unarmed at sunset.

the only good thing to takeaway from that movie is to setup 2 50 cals. on the roof and use them instead of mucking about.
 

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Watched it also. One thing I didn't understand was that when he wanted to shoo away the albino nightstalkers from his building at night he switched on the flood lights. Why didn't he have some type of system where the flood lights would just automatically turn on in a perimeter around the building at sunset, then turn off at sunrise? That way he wouldn't have to worry about them getting close before he frantically turned on the lights. Also, what about rigging up a same type system for the '70 Mustang he was driving? That way he could drive around at night at keep the mutants at bay.

And wouldn't world's scientific community have figured out early on that the mutants don't like light and relocated any blood serum antidote research facility somewhere above the Arctic Circle where the sun never sets? Twenty-four hour sunlight... no mutant activity.

But hey, it was a movie and in 1971 $1.50 would cover admission. And for another buck for you could get bukcet of buttered popcorn and a drink. No Jordan Almonds though.. always hated those things. Raisinets for me!!
 

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There are a lot of Post Apocalyptic movies . I just haven't watched all of them. The old ones include Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, On the Beach, and (my favorite) The Road. The lesson the last one wants to teach you is Stay off the Road. To me, it's find your friends, build a defensive position, build a food and water supply, and keep those Liberals out.
 

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The Will Smith version had potential. The original ending was different from the theatrical one, and in my opinion, superior. It's funny that of all the movies that adapted, or were influenced by, the book, the hammy Vincent Price one was the most faithful.

The second most faithful would probably be, ironically, a Morgan-centric episode of Walking Dead.

They were going to start filming a sequel to the Will Smith movie this year, but I haven't heard anything since "the slap."
I did like the Vincent Price one....I also have a penchant for dark humored parody.
Wish they'd come up with or I'll say dig up someone that looks and sounds like him and do a parody movie. Where the mutants are more obviously afraid of him. But then again that would botch the ending. However I could see one where instead of the execution or his narrow escape he's "deported" to the artic.
And the mutants are talking about "Well that solves that threat." As the screen shifts northwards towards a crashed space ship in the Artic that looks exactly like the one in the 1951 The Thing From Another Planet(which was set at the North Pole).

BTW -i also always wanted to see a parody of "The Thing" with a play on the meaning of the film's title. And now that I even have an ideas of the perfect actor to play the monster it's sad. Since Alec Baldwin may be going to prison. He'd have been perfect for playing a 6ft tall prick.
 

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Yeah I saw the Omega man on TCM, love that movie, seen it several times over the years. Another good one where lessons can be learned, and I think one of the better movies is the classic apocalyptic movie Panic In Year Zero. I think its the original apocalyptic movie from 1951 if I recall correctly.
 

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Yeah I saw the Omega man on TCM, love that movie, seen it several times over the years. Another good one where lessons can be learned, and I think one of the better movies is the classic apocalyptic movie Panic In Year Zero. I think its the original apocalyptic movie from 1951 if I recall correctly.
Panic in Year Zero is great. It shows that even the well-prepared can get things wrong.
 
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