I’ve been looking back at Richard Matheson’s seminal I AM LEGEND and the various movie adaptations the book has spawned. This week, Charlton Heston in 1971’s THE OMEGA MAN.
My horror movie education began with double bills of Hammer classics and Universal monster movies which used to be shown late Saturday nights on the BBC. When my parents bought our first VCR, a whole world of possibilities was opened. For the first time I was able to record and watch films I’d otherwise miss because they were on too late on a school night or because my parents didn’t think they were appropriate (please remember – I was very young, and this was the height of the Video Nasties craziness which outlawed 99.9% of the films I wanted to watch).
I remember recording mainstream horror movies such as ALIEN and THE OMEN and watching them endlessly for as long as I was able (usually until Dad needed the tape to record something else – tapes were damn expensive back in the day, and we had the sum total of four of them).
THE OMEGA MAN was another film I watched again and again until I could pretty much recite the script, and until re-watching it for this feature, I hadn’t seen it in a long time. I expected it to have dated badly, but Charlton Heston’s post-apocalyptic antics really took me by surprise. I knew I’d watched the movie through the rose-tinted spectacles of innocence and youth, but there’s no escaping the fact that this is a clunky and horrendously dated film.
Chuck plays Robert Neville who, in this version of the story, lives an isolated life of relative comfort in a funky pad which, for some inexplicable reason, reminded me of Batman’s cave (and I’m talking Adam West Batman here, not Christian Bale or that Affleck person). More than any other I AM LEGEND adaptation, this film is a product of its time. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean, then click the link for my thoughts.
I don’t know how many of you are like me… thirty-something (very close to forty-something) and UK based. If you’re not then this post may not be relevant. Sorry about that, but this is something I’m passionate about!
But, without anyone really noticing, the Horror Double Bills died out, and were replaced, on the whole, with blandness: reality TV shows, endless repeats, 24 hour news etc. etc.
I was really pleased to hear that a campaign to bring Classic Horror back to BBC TV in the UK has been started, and I wanted to ask all you UK readers to show your support. There’s a website, a Facebook page and even a petition. Please add your voice!
This isn’t just a nostalgia trip for old buggers like me. These films really were instrumental in switching me on to horror, and I don’t think I’d be writing the books I write today if it hadn’t been for those Saturday nights spent creeping back downstairs to watch TV after my parents had gone to bed, or staying up late in the school holidays and being scared half to death by Quatermass, Captain Kronos, Doctor Phibes and the like. Let’s get these films back on the box!