Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is my favorite sci-fi horror novel. Although written in 1954, it remains today an effective, atmospheric and powerful novel of a man’s struggle to keep his sanity when he finds himself the last man on earth. He is the last man, but not the only creature roaming the deserted world…
Three film versions have been attempted (and I do mean attempted, not accomplished), the first, and in an odd way the best (or at least the most faithful), an Italian- American co-production cleverly entitled “The Last Man on Earth” from 1964:
Next, in 1971, perhaps the best known and least like the book of the three versions, Chuck Heston’s “Omega Man”. Entertaining, but definitely a product of its time:
Finally, the 2007 Will Smith version, the only one actually titled “I Am Legend”, but which unfortunately, without giving too much away, substitutes an ending that completely invalidates the meaning of that enigmatic three-word phrase:
I have thus resigned myself to the fact that the book will never be done right – just one of many, I’m afraid. I urge you to pick it up – there are parts that will stay with you forever.
Let’s consider this the first of many such entries for good books – and lousy movies…