The Last Man on Earth - DVD Review
The Last Man on Earth is based on the 1954 novel by coscripter Matheson (whose displeasure with the final product spurred the use of a pseudonym), this Italian-made production is best known for its influence on George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. The similarities between the two films go beyond the presence of shuffling zombies and housebound heroes; both feature taboo-breaking scenes of interfamilial murder, and both end on bleak, dystopian notes. While The Last Man on Earth lacks the political and darkly satirical shadings (and graphic gore) that make Night of the Living Dead a more memorable experience, the combination of Bava-esque Gothic atmosphere and bleak, documentary-style camerawork by directors Ragona and Salkow (the brother of Price's agent Lester Salkow) lend themselves to moments of pure frisson that compare laudably to Romero's film. Matheson's novel also provided the source material for the awkward 1971 Charlton Heston vehicle The Omega Man. A planned third version, helmed by Ridley Scott and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was shut down in its earliest stages due to skyrocketing budget costs.