Some key reasons why Omega Man is not as effective as
28 Days Later:
1. Special effects. London really looks empty in 28
Days Later, but when Heston is driving through LA, we see people and
vehicles moving in the background, we see working traffic lights,
etc. Charlton Heston's body double is in several minutes of
motorcycle chase footage, and looks nothing like Heston. It's a big
wide-bodied guy with silver hair. Might have been Tip O'Neill.
2. Chatty zombies. The Omega Man script turned
into albino plague victims, which was OK, but it also turned them into a
religious cult with anti-technology beliefs. The conflict ends up
with Charlton Heston battling against the Albino Amish.
And these are the most garrulous zombies ever. The Nouveau Amish Blanc leader
spends most of his screen time making long-winded Luddite speeches, as if he
really wanted to get Heston's support in the next Zombie Party election.
3. Sound track. Over the years, movie
makers have really learned a lot about how to co-ordinate the sound
track with the mood they seek to elicit. The musical score for The
Omega Man, although haunting in spots, basically sounds like a TV
theme song or the overture to a Broadway play. I kept waiting for
the curtain to open on Gordon MacRae riding his horse, or Yul
Brynner pacing about in his bare feet.
... or maybe for Bill Murray to come
out and start singing the words:
Oh He's not the Beta Guy
Or Catherine Zeta's Guy
He's the Omega Guy
....... and he's all alone
Oh, he don't wear L'Oreal
just seekin' an Omega Pal
and someday an Omega Gal
....... to call his own
maybe someday when the world is new
there'll be an Omega Baby, too.
so it can finally be true
....... when he hears that phone
Most of the scenes in Omega
Man would be better underscored with silence, or with natural noises
ala Bergman or Tarkovsky, or with modern horror
techniques - like low, slow repetitious drumbeats (ala The Hole or
Angel Heart), or even with classic horror techniques like the sudden shrieking sounds in
Psycho. As it stands, the film has no tension.
4. Story consistency.
Heston has been living alone in the
world for two years. Everyone else on earth is a zombie, as far as
he knows. Yet he has fresh grapes on his table. Zombies running
their own vineyards when they can't work by day? (Even though they
are not vampires, they can only function at night.)
Heston spends every day trying to
find where the zombies sleep in L.A. Even assuming they stay in one place permanently
because they are too stupid to move, L.A. is a mighty
big place for one guy to cover. He has to inspect every floor of every building without
even using elevators. Meanwhile, the zombies all come to Chuck's
house every night, and he has an entire armory in his den. Yup,
every night he knows exactly where they are, but instead of shooting
them, he sits in his house, cooks himself dinner, and plays chess
with an imaginary opponent represented by a bust of Caesar. During
this time, he only shoots them if directly provoked. Here's a
suggestion, Chuck. Tomorrow, during the day, get some grenades
instead of looking for zombies. Tomorrow night, when the zombies
come to your house, blast them to kingdom come. Oh, what the hell.
Get a frigging tank.
The zombies don't use any type of
motorized vehicle. None at all. Remember, that is against their
beliefs. But they appear at Chuck's house every night promptly after
dusk, and they don't go out during the day. Therefore, their hideout
must be within a block or two of his house, right? So why is he
searching miles and miles across town?
The power grid in L.A. seems to go on
uninterrupted. At one point, the arc lights actually go on in the
Coliseum, frightening away the photosensitive zombies. Chuck asks
his rescuer how she did that, and she answers, "oh, Dutch takes care
of stuff like that". Chuck doesn't elect to ask Dutch. 'Tis a
And so forth.
DVD info from Amazon
Introduction by screenwriter
Joyce H. Carrington, Paul Koslo ("Dutch"), and Eric Laneuville
"The Last Man Alive: The Omega
It's really a shame that The Omega Man
ended up such a cheesefest with preachy zombies and a bunch of
additional humans to provide a hokey love interest. I really liked the
early part of the movie, which limned Chuck's loneliness, inchoate
madness, and isolation.
The first fifteen minutes are like a great episode of The Twilight
Zone, with Chuck wandering through the empty streets, muttering to
himself, trying to keep a grip on his sanity, watching movies he's
seen many times before, hearing a phone ring when there is no phone
ringing, frightened when he sees that the sun is almost down and he's
far from home.
I had never seen this 1971 movie
before. It is hopelessly outdated, but I doubt that I would have
been impressed in 1971. Scoop pretty much covered the problems
with the film in his review. I have seen far too many
post-apocalyptic films, and this one isn't even in my top ten
for that genre. Too much is unexplained for the film to have any
- Why did Rosalind Cash and
her group only contact Heston to save him, when they knew he
was the only hope of saving her brother?
- Why was Heston intent on
doing in the zombies?
- Why did Heston decide not
to kill them after he was told where they were hiding?
- After finding other humans
in his city, why didn't it occur to him that there might be
others in other cities?
- If the germ killed nearly
all life, what were they going to eat in the Sierras?
- If the Zombies were all
that photo-sensitive, why was their weapon of choice fire?
- And what is with the fresh
fruit and cheese, two full years after everyone died?
- Why did most of the people
die immediately, while a few became zombies instantly, and yet
others resisted the germ for months?
I think the problem here was
in trying to change the premise of Matheson's story while trying
to follow the original plot line.
And then there was Heston's
performance. I didn't believe him as a research scientist, an
officer in the military, or as a doctor. Heston, in a short
interview, stated that the most interesting thing about his
character to him was that he played chess against himself. Kind
of sums up what he thought of the film, doesn't it? And just to
prove that he was not very bright, he lost to his imaginary
I will have to give the
filmmakers some credit.
- They shot nights and
weekends in LA to get the deserted look. Some areas of LA were
still empty in 1971 off hours, but I defy anyone to day to
find a single city block with nobody moving any time of the
day or night now.
- They squeezed in a lot of
nudity and violence for a PG film.
|The meaning of the IMDb
score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of
excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars
from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm
watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars
from the critics. The fives are generally not
worthwhile unless they are really your kind of
material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics,
or a C- from our system.
Films rated below five are generally awful even if you
like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one
and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less,
depending on just how far below five the rating
guideline: A means the movie is so good it
will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not
good enough to win you over if you hate the
genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an
open mind about this type of film. C means it will only
appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover
appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but
will be considered excellent by genre fans, while
C- indicates that it we found it to
be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you
like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if
you love the genre. F means that the film is not only
unappealing across-the-board, but technically
inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for
fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is
recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C-
that often, because we like movies and we think that most of
them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know
that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below
Based on this description,
Scoop says, "this is a C. It is a good movie in some ways, and
some scenes are captivating. It is cheesy in many other
ways, and there is almost no dramatic tension, but I say it is worth a watch if you're interested in the
genre films of the early 1970's, because it's interesting to see
how filmmakers approached things then, in contrast to how they
would do the same things today." Tuna says,
an IMDB rating of 6.3, this is clearly a decent genre effort,
but not one that I will never sit through again. C."