The second shot at Hollywood adapting Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend following Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth, Omega Man is very much a product of its time. The ‘70s are in full force, both in directorial style and dialogue. The fact that it barely follows the book doesn’t help either, but it does tell a decent story by itself.

Charlton Heston stars as Robert Neville, supposedly the last man on Earth. This adaptation spends little time in letting the audience become acquainted with the story. If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, the opening moments are rather baffling and unexplained. Neville is already losing his sanity, and shooting at shadows. It’s a rough introduction, and the back story is quickly explained in flashback later.

The empty streets that open the film are impressive given that it was done without the usual array of visual effects, and it’s effective in setting tone. Neville truly seems alone, until about 40 or so minutes into the film when Rosalind Cash makes her first appearance. She’s excellent as a leading lady alongside Heston, giving a fine performance for the era.

Instead of the speedy zombie/vampires from the modern retelling of I Am Legend, Omega Man uses a brand of chemical warfare that turns victims pasty white, sensitive to light, and messes with their minds. Their cult-like behavior, slow pace, and at times campy dialogue doesn’t make them out to be a credible threat, although at least they’re not sub-par CG creations either.

Easily the film’s Achilles heel is the soundtrack. Grating, inappropriate, and constant, it hovers over the film like a dark cloud, spoiling some of the more enjoyable moments the film offers. The ending contains one of the worst musical choices in film history, completely ruining the on-screen imagery with an upbeat dance number that couldn’t be more out of place.

Still, what appears on screen is mostly engaging. The story is familiar now, but Heston carries this one above the disaster it could have been with someone else in the lead. It moves at a solid clip, and rarely drags while creating some effective tension when the danger ramps up. It’s marred by some campy qualities and a soundtrack that never should have reached the final stages of production, yet there’s enough here to make it a small cult classic. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Warner releases a fine print of Omega Man on Blu-ray, although it’s not without its problems. Colors appear strong, but tend to bleed, particularly reds. Detail is excellent all around, and some close ups make this seem like a modern film. Sharpness is high, although there is a faint edge around numerous objects which looks like artificial sharpening. Black levels waver at times, and darker scenes do appear murky. Print damage is kept to a minimum. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Apparently, audio wasn’t that important to Warner on the film’s Blu-ray premiere. This is a rather terrible Dolby Digital mono mix. Everything sounds flat, scratchy, and faded. The music, as terrible as it sounded before, is especially strained. At the least, dialogue is clear if a little muffled. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Audio]

A meager two featurettes reside on the disc as extras. Introduction to Omega Man interviews a few cast members about the experience, but they hardly get a word in before being cut off for more padding in the form of film footage. At four minutes, there had to be more the studio could of included.

The Last Man Alive is a 10 minute featurette from 1971 loaded with some ridiculous promotional behind-the-scenes stuff. Heston talking to an anthropologist over a game of chess in an attempt to legitimize the film is hilarious. The film’s original trailer is your final extra. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]

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