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The virus is spreading, now what?

Well, it's been a week since I shared a few comedy and horror films by Kevin Smith to watch during the beginning of the quarantine, or social distancing. But now we have to get serious as it seems we are facing more downtime and a spread of the virus through the world. We need to be ready for the worst and the best way to do that is by studying some what-if scenarios. This week I am focusing on one story told three times, in three very different decades. I am also giving you a bonus movie in the end, just because.

While I wish I had more time to watch movies to suggest for you to view or avoid, I've been busy finishing up the edit on my second novel and it is eating up all my free time. I hope to have some news about that by the week's end. For now, let's dive into this week's must-watch movies so we can survive the coming apocalypse.

The story used as the basis for the three pictures in today's suggested viewing is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

The idea of the book is a man, Robert Neville, may be the last living man on Earth after a plague turns everyone else into nocturnal blood thirsty monsters. During the day he hunts them, and at night he hides as they try to locate and destroy him.

While a great idea, and cutting edge for 1954. But honestly, when I tried to read it in the 1990s, I found it to be a slog of a read. Which I hate to admit is how I find everything this so-called horror genius has ever written. Most of the time I finish his books with a shrug. Most likely since I am going back to his works instead of having the pleasure of reading as they are released.

Now three major films have been made using I Am Legend as the blueprint. Each has its flaws but all three can be entertaining on different levels.


The first movie is 1964's The Last Man on Earth. It stars Vincent Price so already it is ahead of the curve. The IMDB description states: "When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter." Of the three movies, this follows the book the closest. Which is funny since it is the only one to change the main character's name, moving from Robert Neville to Robert Morgan.

Some interesting notes on this movie.

  1. It is the only one of the three where Matheson co-wrote the screenplay. Which is why it most likely stays true to the original novel.

  2. Originally planned as a Hammer Horror picture, it was passed over and sent to an American producer who made the film in Italy. Vincent Price is the only actor in the movie speaking his own English, all the others are dubbed.

  3. While the creatures are vampires, they move more like the zombies soon to be featured in Romero's Night of the Living Dead and other popular zombie movies of the 70s and 80s.

  4. While this movie was filmed in black and white (my preferred version) they later went back and released colorized versions. You can watch this for free on Amazon Prime and several other streaming services.


The second film based on I Am Legend is The Omega Man released in 1971. It stars Charlton Heston as Dr. Robert Neville. IMDB's description for the film: Due to an experimental vaccine, Dr. Robert Neville is the only survivor of an apocalyptic war waged with biological weapons. The plague caused by the war has killed everyone else except for a few hundred deformed, nocturnal people calling themselves "The Family".

The "Family" members are sensitive to light and come out during the night to try and stop Neville who they view as the last remnants of a dead world.

Some interesting notes on this movie.

  1. This movie is far removed from the original material that Matteson says he wasn't bothered by it at all. The screenwriters went heavy with 70s counter-culture and antiwar imagery.

  2. The plague that causes the end of the world was unleashed by germ warfare as the result of a border war between China and Russia.

  3. This movie contains more survivors and has Neville join up with a group trying to battle the "Family" and although controversial for the 70s, Heston's begins a love affair with an African American woman.

  4. If you want to check this one out it will from time to time pop up on Prime for free but right now no one is streaming this 70's cult classic. You can catch it on Amazon Video for $1.99 to rent or $5.99 to own.


The third and last film shares the name of the original novel, I Am Legend came out in 2007 and starred Will Smith as Dr Robert Neville. IMDB states: Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure in this post-apocalyptic action thriller.

And while this one moves back to the original material, it is not entirely true to the story. The transformed monsters are infected humans, and while they have light sensitivity and feed on blood they are not traditional vampires. The whole movie, Neville is trying to cure them.

Some interesting notes on this movie.

  1. Will Smith grew so enamored of his canine co-star, Abbey, that he tried to adopt her when filming was finished, but the dog's trainer could not be persuaded to give her up.

  2. Most of the movie has no underlying score. The score was used minimally to highlight Neville's solitude.

  3. Although the creatures are referred to as "Dark Seekers", during this movie, if watched with the subtitles on DVD, they are called "Hemocytes".

  4. This movie can be rented for $3.99 or purchased for $9.99 on Amazon video but when I looked for the trailer, it appears someone put it on youtube for free...not sure how long that will last but you can always give it a look if interested.


Bonus movie is The Cabin in the Woods. I don't want to ruin the fun twist so I will simply put the trailer here and tell you it's free to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu and stars Chris Hemsworth.

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