31 for 31: 'Last Man on Earth'

For the whole month of October, our own Kevin Stairiker will be watching a horror movie a day and cataloging his findings in a new feature called “31 for 31.”

Is it possible for someone to be considered legendary while still being underrated? If it is, Vincent Price falls into that slim category.

He’s known for dozens of roles, from the original versions of “the Fly” and “House of Wax” to even “The Ten Commandments.” Younger people probably just know him as the spooky voice from “Thriller.” I’ll always have a place in my heart for the “Abominable Dr. Phibes,” which is why it was the first movie I watched when I started the initial “31 for 31” challenge four years ago.

But Price mostly gets love for his creepy voice, which certainly deserves the praise. Not much is said about his acting, but “Last Man on Earth” might just be the pinnacle of his abilities. Released in 1964, “Last Man on Earth” was the first filmed version of a book that came out 10 years prior, “I Am Legend.” Of course, multiple versions of the book have been made over the years, but Price far outshined his post-apocalyptic brethren Charlton Heston and Will Smith.

Much like the other films and the source material, “Last Man on Earth” finds Price as the titular last man, scrounging to make a continued life for himself while also dodging vampires. What makes Price so good is that not only does he have the task of singularly carrying the brunt of the film himself, he also sheds the pre-conceived notions of his more “out there” horror work. Price keeps the weariness and burden of his anxieties on his sleeve throughout the film, and as you watch him mark lost days on the wall or throw vampire corpses into a pit, you feel it, too.

There are slight changes throughout the film from the original book, which is probably why author Richard Matheson, who partly wrote the script, took the pen name “Logan Swanson.” For example, the transfusion Price provides to an infected human never happens in the book, nor does the climactic final attack on Price by the vampires at the film’s conclusion. However, these changes are fairly inconsequential in the bigger scheme of things.

If you actually want to see Vincent Price do some legitimate acting, check this one out, for sure.


By the numbers:

Total deaths: 9
Cuts to B-roll of Vincent Price lazily throwing vampire corpses into a ditch: 4
Hilarious shots of Price lightly hammering a stake into a vampire’s heart: 3
Distant future year that this film takes place in: 1968
Other great pieces of pop culture that share the same title: 3*

(*These include: the funny FOX TV show, the Isaac Asimov sci-fi collection and the heartbreaking 2001 album by Loudon Wainwright III.)

Total movie death count: 129
Watched via: Youtube
Worth the watch? Yes
Arbitrary rating: 4.5/5 vampire corpses


31 for 31 viewing list

  1. Jeepers Creepers (2001)
  2. Cube (1997)
  3. White Zombie (1932)
  4. Demons (Dèmoni) (1985)
  5. Phantasm II (1988)
  6. Kuroneko (1968)
  7. Creepshow (1982) / Creepshow 2 (1987)
  8. 30 Days of Night (2007)
  9. Last Man on Earth (1964)
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Posted in Arts+Culture, Lancaster, Movies

Kevin Stairiker is a features writer for Fly. He is a graduate of Temple University and enjoys writing in third person. When he isn't writing, he's probably playing guitar for a litany of bands, reading comics or providing well-needed muscle at The Double Deuce.

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