The Omega Man DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by Warner Home Video
Directed by Boris Sagal
Written by Richard Matheson (novel, "I am Legend") John William Corrington (screenplay)
1971, Region 1 (NTSC), 98 minutes, Rated PG
DVD released on May 15th, 2007
Charlton Heston as Robert Neville
Anthony Zerbe as Matthias
Rosalind Cash as Lisa
Paul Koslo as Dutch
Eric Laneuville as Richie
Lincoln Kilpatrick as Zachary
Jill Giraldi as Little Girl
The nation has been devastated by biological war. Almost everybody has died from the plague except Dr. Robert Neville (Charlton Heston), who discovered a vaccine just in the nick of time. Those who have not died are in a zombie like state before they too succumb to the plague. Neville has set himself up pretty well, turning his house into a fortress to protect himself from the zombie hordes who call his name and attack his house every evening. Led by Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), the zombies are out to purify the world with fire and they consider Neville to be an evil symbol of the civilization which destroyed society.
During his daily hunt to destroy zombies while they rest during the day, Neville sees Lisa (Rosalind Cash), the first normal person he has seen in three years. He chases her to no avail, and wonders if he is losing his sanity. Neville is captured by Matthias and as they are set to burn him at the stake. Lisa and her friend Dutch save Neville in the nick of time. Meeting the others survivors, he discovers they are merely resistant to the virus and could succumb to it at any time. Lisa's younger brother Richie (Eric Laneuville) is on the brink of turning. His hair is whitened and the pigment is leaving his eyes.
Unable to replicate the antidote, Neville attempts to save Richie by making a serum from his own blood. Lisa and Neville accept their responsibility to mankind and start a relationship. Responding to the vaccine, Ritchie recovers. He questions why Neville does not intend to use the serum to save Matthias and his "family". Will Neville decide to assist Matthias or carry out his plan to leave the city with the rest of the survivors and live in the country? Will Matthias want his help? The Omega Man is a stunning look at a post apocalyptic world if leaders do actually push the button!
The Omega Man is one of my favorite movies. Although a remake of Vincent Price's Last Man on Earth, it is truly a different movie. Each one has it's own strengths and I consider neither superior to the other. There was a time when you could make a good horror movie with just white makeup, white powder for the hair and little fake blood. To pull it off a great script was needed and The Omega Man certainly has that. Combined with excellent performances from Charlton Heston and Anthony Zerbe, it was one of the top movies of 1971.
Heston's performance as the tortured Neville, all alone in the beginning is very credible. After playing God, Moses and Ben Hur, you would expect that! Younger viewers or those spoiled by today's multimillion dollar special effects extravaganzas may not appreciate it like us old guys do, or those truly who appreciate the genre. I say buy this DVD with my highest possible recommendation. It is a classic, truly worthy of your collection!
Video and Audio:
The Omega Man is presented in a anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. The transfer is absolutely stunning! Colors are sharp, clear, rich and vivid. It was as good viewing the DVD as it was seeing the movie back in 1971 when it was released. Also surprising was the trailer is just as good! Warner presents this movie in a definitive edition on this DVD.
Warner has retained the original mono soundtrack in a Dolby presentation. The movie itself was filmed with a extremely powerful track relying more on good acting and effects. The sound is clear, free of dropouts, hiss or pops. It does the movie well!
Warner has dug into their vaults and found a very nice featurette on the movie back from 1971 when it was released. It shows a little age, but well makes up for it in entertainment. Instead of a running commentary there is a introduction of the movie by costars Eric Laneuville (who starred in Room 222 and "St. Elsewhere") and Paul Koslo (who played the character of Dutch in the movie). Included is the theatrical trailer which is probably the best one condition wise that I have ever seen on a 30+ year old film. There is also a nice essay on Charlton Heston covering the sci-fi movies he did in the late 60's and early 70's.