I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is a post-apocalyptic, last human alive, vampire story that is delightful and adds a couple deep new twists to the genre that are still fresh even after the intervening years since the original 1954 publication date. Somehow I hadn’t ever read this before, and I’m glad I finally did. Moreover, reading the story makes the 2007 big screen adaption with Will Smith even that much worse than it seemed at the time; gods, they really screwed that up, and how!
I made 39 highlights.
Originally posted on my personal blog at I Am Legend
Lucifer Benway reviews I Am Legend, dir. Francis Lawrence, in the Key 23 archive.
You know the drill. Will Smith in the supposedly truest to the book version of the novel I Am Legend. Made in the 60s as a vehicle for Vincent Price to pine for his dead wife (Last Man on Earth) and in the 70s with Charlton Heston being camp as all get out (Omega Man). In this one, Will Smith is an Army Lt. Col. who worked on the virus that’s turned human beings into zombie / vampire creatures or meat. Riding around in flashy cars with his German shepherd and hunting elk in the streets of New York, Smith is surprisingly convincing. Carrying a picture by oneself is a difficult chore to say the least and for a guy who started out rapping about getting grounded and dressing like Punky Brewster, Smith turns out a far better than workmanlike performance.
The Good: Creepy zombies, good cinematography, killer tracking shots of the deserted city, and more “last man on earth” fantasies than you can shake a stick at.
The Bad: He’s got running water, which is kind of weird but once you go down that route, the nuclear power plants would have exploded. Also, a bit of a downer.
The Bottom Line: Seeing Will Smith being that intense with graying hair is a bit emotionally jarring, but this is a symphony on film. Minimal blood and gore, maximum terror.