The Last Man on Earth (1964) – IMDb
Directed by Ubaldo Ragona, Sidney Salkow. With Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi Stuart. When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter.
I believe this was the first adaptation of “I Am Legend”, and it might just be the closest that the story matched up with the source material. I found it on “Dark Matter TV”, which I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with the TV series of the same name, nor with actual dark matter in science, it’s more of a horror / thriller streaming channel on Roku and other devices.
It’s a black and white film, and the copy that Dark Matter has is visually noisy, with streaking and absolutely horrible cropping to the sides, when they showed the main studio’s name (“American International Pictures“) it chopped off the first three or four letters on both sides. Fortunately it was only exceptionally noticeable during that one section with text on the screen. What saves this film is Vincent Price, who as always, is fantastic in his role, this time as the last man on the planet that isn’t infected with a disease turning everyone into horror show shadows of their former selves. Mind you, this was released in 1964, firmly entrenched in The Code, so there’s not much here that’s visually scary and definitely no real violence is shown on the screen. That being said, there are some really stunning elements going on just off screen that I’m surprised were able to make it through, with the suggestion that all the main character does all day is murder, and that his daughter was thrown (alive?) into a massive burn pit, along with anyone else that might have been infected.
It’s been quite some time since i’ve read the original story, and I feel like there’s a bit of a stray at the end, but I enjoyed what they filmed regardless. If you’ve enjoyed the other adaptions (Omega Man, I Am Legend) then you’d do yourself a service by checking out the original in all it’s glory.