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The Last Man on Earth

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Last Man on EarthIn "The Last Man on Earth" (1964), Vincent Price plays Dr. Robert Morgan, the lone human immune to a plague that has turned all other humans to brain-addled vampires. All, that is, except a mysterious woman who appears out of nowhere and seems as if she might be uninfected as well. Unfortunately for the doc, it turns out she has quite a few friends—and they don't like him very much.

Directed by Ubaldo Ragona, the film is based on the apocalyptic novel "I Am Legend" by speculative fiction author Richard Matheson. Though Ragona conferred with the author while developing the film, Matheson is said to have been somewhat disappointed that the final result did not follow his novel more closely. Two other screen adaptations were made, including "The Omega Man" (1971) starring Charlton Heston and the Will Smith vehicle "I Am Legend" (2007), both of which took their own liberties with Matheson's storyline. In the films, the good doctor is depicted as a hero who attempts to find a cure and save humanity; in the book, Morgan realizes that infection is the new norm and he's the terrifying freak.

Incidentally, Matheson, who was also responsible for a number of "Twilight Zone" episodes, wrote the screenplays for several adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe stories featuring (the legendary) Vincent Price.

Robert Fujinami
Professor Robert Fujinami of the University of Utah’s Neurology and Pathology departments discusses viral diseases and the film “The Last Man On Earth.”

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