The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Disaster Film  |   Release Date - Mar 8, 1964 (USA)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Todd Kristel

Most people wouldn't expect breathtaking special effects or nonstop, nail-biting action in this low-budget 1960s horror film. They would be right, of course. Indeed, The Last Man on Earth has even less suspense than some people might expect; this is primarily because the zombie-like vampires are so slow-moving, dimwitted, and weak that they pose little threat to Robert Morgan. They're much less threatening than the zombies in Night of the Living Dead, for example, although there is one advantage to their general incompetence as monsters: at least you can believe that Morgan could survive for so long. But the movie doesn't seem to be designed primarily for jump-out-of-your-seat scares anyway; instead, the filmmakers appear to have put more effort into cultivating a pervasive mood of loneliness and despair. Morgan is the ultimate alienated man, and we see how his sense of isolation and numbing daily routine (which includes a trip to town to kill more vampires in their sleep) have gradually stripped away his humanity. Vincent Price carries the film with a compelling performance that involves some scenery chewing, although not quite as much as some of his other horror roles. The ending manages to be both heavy-handed and muddled -- despite some rather unsubtle symbolism, it's unclear if we're supposed to consider Morgan a tragic fall guy, self-made monster, or Christ figure -- but it's still a fairly interesting movie that might appeal to fans of the original Twilight Zone television series (which, of course, could also be unsubtle at times). You may wish that the fight scenes were more exciting (they are included in the movie, after all), but at least the film offers something else to hold your interest.