I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Fourth of July / I Am Legend

First off I would like to thank the two (2) of you who complimented me on my column last week, an autobiographical work which I have been working on for months as a piece of my memoirs but decided to post in my column. Of course I am not abandoning my home, the world of film Writing, however this is an example of the works I hope to pour my blood sweat and etc. into in the coming months and years. This is very important to me and yes there were two of you who mentioned this to me, this important new step in my life, and I do mean that literally. As in, one more than one, but two less then four, if my calculations are correct. thanks alot guys.

Second off there is the whole fourth of july deal. Not one of my favorite holidays actually, but what are you gonna do. The first thing I think of when I think of the fourth of July is Benji, the dog I had in the ’80s. Not one of your better dogs, he was only a cockapoodle, but the little guy was loyal, his breath was above average and his house breaking was above reproach. Except on the 4th of July. This motherfucker didn’t know what fireworks were, and no matter how many years he lived he just couldn’t remember “Oh yeah, that’s right, I remember that last year.” no, he runs all over the house peeing and shitting on the carpet like a god damned invalid. (except running.) I mean, at a certain point you just get embarrassed for a dog he keeps doing stupid shit like this.

About ’86-’87, somewhere around there, I started giving him tranquilizers to calm him down, and it worked. But the fucker got addicted. He starts expecting them earlier one year, like July 1st or 2nd. Then he’s crying for them on New Year’s. “Whine whine whine,” and the translation is, “All these poppers and screaming are scaring me, I’ma start shitting if you don’t think of something quick, you know what I’m saying?” Okay Benji has a point there but when it comes to Valentine’s Day, birthdays etc. he was just stretching it. By the time I went down poor mutt was a total tranq fiend. I never seen a dog that desperate before or since. Benji stayed with my cousin while I was locked up and supposedly he ran away, although I have my doubts. You never know what a junkie pooch like that is gonna do when you turn your back, I wouldn’t blame my cousin if he gave him away to be perfectly honest. Sad though.

Second thing I think about for fourth of july is a motherfucker named Quentin “Captain Hook” Williams, or Q for short. This is a motherfucker I knew with a hook for a hand, obviously. Not really like a pirate hook like you see in the movies exactly, it was more like one of those gripper things you use to pick up hot dogs, whatever the fuck that thing is called.

Well Q had this whole story about how he got the injury, involving a police chase, blowing up a vault, etc. etc. Then one day Q’s mama comes to visit him, and someone overhears her lecturing his ass. Turns out the moron really lost his hand when he was a little boy, trying to throw a cherry bomb at somebody, and it slipped down his sleeve. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. Ha ha Q always telling stories.

Anyway, remember a few weeks back I was investigating all of those Dracule pictures. Well alot of individuals started saying to me Vern, why the fuck you relate so much with dracula. What about a little character by the name of Robert Neville. The last man on earth, the omega man, the I am Legend. This is a character from a book by Richard Matheson, made into movies starring Vincent Price and later Charlton Heston. Now just like a dracula this gentleman is lonely because, like I said he is the last man on earth. And everybody else is turned into vampires, which is kind of a pisser in his opinion.

So I checked these works and I gotta tell you boys, this is a good story which greatly adds to the world of the vampires of mythological tales and stories. You see as a Writer I am able to take a look at Matheson’s book and tell with 100% accuracy that this is, without no doubt, what we Writers would call a good fucking piece of the literature. It starts right at the best possible moment, three years after the world was overrun with vampires. Robert Neville lives in a house which he has fortified with garlic and crosses and mirrors, and every night he turns his classical music up loud to try to drown out the sound of the vampires that gather outside calling his name. During the day he drives around town, picks up supplies from the stores and while he’s at it stakes a few motherfucking vampires.

Now one reason why this is so great is because it’s not as much about vampires as it is about what would you do if society disappeared and the whole world belonged to you. I mean if I were Robert Neville I would be using the city as my personal race track. It talks about him driving around but it doesn’t mention – does he stop for stop lights? Does he drive on the right side of the road? Does he stay off the sidewalks?

He has the run of the place pretty much, and he hasn’t run out of frozen food yet and he’s even considered moving into a fancy penthouse, although he’s decided it would be too much of a pain in the ass to set up the defenses. But it’s a situation that really makes you wonder what you would do and consider his choices and the cleverness of how he protects himself and sets up his lifestyle.

But of course it’s not all fun and games being the last man on earth, the omega man, the I am Legend. Because Robert is one lonely motherfucker and I must admit, quite possibly more lonelier than most Draculas. It’s been a LONG time since he’s seen a woman and I don’t think I have to tell you I know what that’s like, even more than he does. But he gets these urges to rape the female vampires and he controls himself. Not too nice to think about. Later he actually meets a gal – the last gal on earth, the omega gal, the she is legend – and he is so desperate to make a connection and so out of tune with social conventions that he runs at her like the screaming bearded retard he is and scares her away.

Also there is a great part about finding a pet dog.

The Last Man on EarthAnyway this is a truly great work of the horror fiction and was obviously a HUGE fucking influence on the living dead pictures such as Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Living Dead and Days and Nights of the Living Dead. It really reads like the best fucking vampire movie you ever saw so it is really no surprise that it was turned into not one, not three, but TWO movies.

Now I gotta admit both of these movies are good and both are totally different from each other and from the book. And the book is so much better it makes the two movies look like my carpet on July 5th in the ’80s if I was too drunk to clean up after Benji the previous night. Now I don’t want to be controversial here but sometimes you gotta say what you feel, and in my opinion – and ONLY my opinion – the books are sometimes (SOMETIMES) better than the books. In my opinion. No offense.

Now Vincent’s version, Last Man On Earth, it is great to see Vincent driving around a big empty city. It is in nice black and white and the vampires look and act just like zombies. But you know they are vampires, because he uses garlic and wooden stakes when he needs to send them a message. A message about fuck off and die.

This one is a little closer to the book than the later version. It follows his desperate meeting with the omega gal and how badly it all goes and how important it is to him for her to turn out to not be a vampire. Unfortunately it is not one of Vincent’s better performances and he seems kind of phoney in my opinion. The main strength of the book is treating this supernatural disaster situation with realism so when the movie doesn’t feel very “keepin it real” as they say now, well it just don’t work as well.

I would have to say that Charlton’s version Omega Man is the better of the two although it is a big cartoon bastardization of the book and even more phonier than Vincent’s version. This one is specially designed for Charlton’s politics because the bad guys are pacifist hippies, they don’t even believe in hurting him except when they try catapulting fire at him a couple times. He shoots them with machine guns though and he represents technology and the military and how great it was in the old days when there were a whole bunch of other people for him to shoot back and forth with.

One interesting note about the vampires in this movie, they are not vampires. Instead they are just white guys in black robes. There is no mention of garlic or wooden stakes or drinking blood. I’m not even sure why he tries to kill them to be frankly honest, except charlton is some kind of maniac I guess. but that happens when first you get trapped with all those chimps and then this. I mean, that’s a bad couple of years for this dude.

Then later on charlton falls in love with a beautiful black chick with an afro. This is where the plot really veers off, there is alot more about his relationship with this gal and how together they try to invent the cure for white people in robes. And since this was the ’70s they are doing it all for the kids, there are kids who hang out and one of them tries to get Charlton to question his morals and what not. I am surprised there was no mention of how they have to save the community center from getting closed down by the man, maybe that was cut out.

The Omega ManAnyway not to give anything away, but in both movie versions he gets speared at the end, even though not in the book. In Omega Man there is a long shot of where Charlton dies with his head tilted over a little, his arms out, his feet kind of together. You know, crucified. Sacrificing himself to save everyone else. Dying on the cross, in other words.

Get it, like christ.

I mean no offense to charlton but jesus, we are some fairly savvy movie watchers in my opinion. you don’t need to rub our noses in this shit to make us get it. let’s be a little more subtle there next time jackass.

But the reason why I like this garbage anyway is because it is just so weird there is nothing else like it. When I watched it I remembered wait a minute, I saw part of this on tv a long time ago but I thought maybe it was the shrooms or somehting, maybe I didn’t really see it. I mean have you ever seen a scene in ANY other movie where Charlton Heston is wearing a frilly blouse like Mozart drinking vodka and playing chess with a statue of Caesar, and these people in robes are outside his window catapulting a fireball at him and he says “Excuse me” to the statue of caesar and walks over to the window and starts shooting at them and then comes back and plays chess some more. Well I fucking doubt it. If this is what you are looking for Omega Man delivers 100%, I give you my personal word on this.

Well now there is some jackass trying to make this book into a movie again, they were gonna have arnold schwarzenegger from the Running Man movies to star. Well I don’t know about this. Sure he is republican but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna recapture the magic of Omega Man. Maybe if this is a little more like the book it might be worth but in my opinion there is only ONE filmmaker who can do it. the dude that did the living dead ones. not sure what the dude’s name is but I’m sure he knows who he is if he’s reading this.

But I guess when it comes down to it I really don’t care who does it because this is a timeless story like the dracula story which can be fucked with over 100 times without losing its power. I would even say, over 110 times. I can’t wait until there are more I am Legends.

for more information on reading try your library, it will be in alphabetical order by author (Matheson).

thanks guys

–Vern

http://youtu.be/cl5Der2uQPA

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2000 at 12:55 pm and is filed under Action, Drama, Horror, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit, Thriller, Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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