Starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho
Directed by Sidney Salkow
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)
After a deadly plague decimates the Earth, a scientist becomes the lone human survivor, forced to battle vampires for his survival.
The first film adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend, features American star Price, but in an Italian production, filmed overseas and with Italians making out the rest of the cast. I felt the cinematography didn't take good advantage of the dark elements within the story, with little emphasis on shadow or tight shots to heighten the suspense. Nevertheless there are many memorable images, from the stark abandoned streets to the ramshackle house Price's character, Robert Morgan, makes his base of operations, to Morgan dumping bodies in a fiery pit. Troy Howarth told me he feels Price was miscast, and this is indeed a departure from his typical suave image, making scenes where he has to grab Danieli forcefully seem out of character. The film is something of a landmark in undead cinema with the zombie-like vampires in decayed makeup easy to see as influential to later frightfests. It's not all it could be, but it remains a dark and nihilistic tale, and to the filmmakers' credit, they don't sacrifice Matheson's bleak ending.
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