Watch Now: THE OMEGA MAN
Long before Will Smith faced off with zombie-like mutants in Francis Lawrence’s 2007 movie version of Richard Matheson’s book I Am Legend, the post-apocalyptic horror novel had already served as the basis for two cinematic adaptations: Sidney Salkow and Ubaldo B. Ragona’s black-and-white The Last Man on Earth (1964) and Boris Sagal’s The Omega Man (1971). The latter stars Charlton Heston as L.A.-based scientist Dr. Robert Neville who believes himself to be the sole survivor of a global pandemic caused by biological warfare. The plague that Neville is immune to due to an experimental vaccine he injected himself with has rendered a few hundred people deformed, homicidal and sensitive to light. They refer to themselves as “The Family” and are intent on destroying Neville and everything he stands for—namely, science and technology.
Written by John William Corrington and Joyce Corrington, The Omega Man features black female character Lisa (played by Rosalind Cash) who never appeared in the novel, but was created for the movie in light of the Black Power movement. On top of that, Sagal’s adaptation became one of the first studio films to depict an interracial romance, including an interracial kiss. Thrilling and fast-paced, The Omega Man is one of Tim Burton’s favorite films, one he admitted to gladly watching every time it happens to air on TV: “If I was alone on a desert island, I'd probably pick something that I could relate to—probably The Omega Man with Charlton Heston.”