Was there a bigger ham than Charlton Heston? It certainly won’t seem like it as you watch this campy post-apocalyptic silliness in which the Planet of the Apes star is (at least for the first reel) the last man on Earth, spending his days talking to himself, roaming the empty streets of L.A. in whatever sports car he can find and suffering from random auditory hallucinations (“THERE IS NO PHONE RINGING!”). By night, he struts around shirtless as only Heston can, playing chess with a mannequin and hiding out from the pasty-faced hippies outside, nocturnal vampire-like mutants (or something) that survived the horrible virus that wiped out the rest of the world’s population. The Omega Man is a fascinating treasure from the early ’70s, mostly because it’s impossible to tell whether we’re supposed to take any of this seriously or not, from Heston sitting in an empty movie theater and talking along with Woodstock line for line to the awkward Christ imagery that closes the show. Based (very loosely) on Richard Matheson’s overrated yet decidely unfunny novel, I Am Legend.
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