The second, and perhaps the best-known, screen version of I Am Legend, The Omega Man was released in 1971 and directed by Boris Sagal.
The film stars Charlton Heston as Robert Neville, a military scientist who saves himself at the last minute from the fallout of biological warfare between the Soviet Union and China. The end result is that he's now the last man on Earth, and so he spends his existence just trying to survive. This is complicated by a group of survivors, now mutated into albino mutants and led by the charismatic Matthias (Anthony Zerbe). "The Family," as they call themselves, have set out to eliminate all traces of civilization, Neville included.
This work features examples of:
- And Then John Was a Zombie: At the climax, Lisa becomes a part of the Family.
- Apocalypse How: This was a result of Depopulation Bomb in the form of The Virus.
- Bittersweet Ending: The last survivors have been given the cure to the disease, in the form of Neville's blood, and are able to move far away to seek a new life—but Neville is dead and Mathias is still alive, and he may or may not hunt them down eventually.
- Black Dude Dies First: The first of the survivors to be killed by The Family is Richie—who is both black and a kid.
- Cool Guns: Neville's signature weapons (so to speak) are a Browning Automatic Rifle with an early-model infrared scope (which is what he's wielding on the film poster above) and a Colt M76 sub-machine gun with a hand-made clip-on flashlight mount.
- Disease Bleach: Kicks in instantly and just as instantly reverses when someone is cured.
- Evil Albino: The Family. The plague mutated into something that turned many of the survivors into albinos but it still kills in the long term.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Matthias refuses to believe Richie that Neville will cure them and accuses him of being a spy and kills him.
- Evil Gloating: The albinos can't stand bright light. The head of the Family is preparing to kill the hero in a darkened stadium at night. Head bad guy to followers: "Darkness is triumphant!". Then the stadium lights come on.
- Evil Luddite: The Family is an entire group full of them—Mathias believes that anything and everything Man has made (from cars to guns to paintings) is a sign of his corruption and must be destroyed.note Once the last scientist on Earth is dead at his hands, the survivors are forced to leave the city to live lives of backbreaking agrarian toil in the countryside.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Mathias was just some random news broadcaster that snapped as the world came to an end and denounced Man's technology and the politics of its users as the reason the world died — fast-forward a few years and he became the head of a murderous luddite cult of personality that destroys anything and anybody unlucky enough to be declared an enemy of said cult (and this is without taking into account the whole "mutant albino" thing).
- The Fundamentalist: Mathias again. He genuinely believes that all traces of the old society must be wiped out. This apparently includes all technology above approximately medieval level, scientists and some types of art.
- Ghost City: Los Angeles. The establishing shots of a lifeless L.A. were achieved by filming on Sunday mornings when there was almost no traffic. It works for the most part except for one shot where the viewers can see another car moving in the distance, and a random pedestrian.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The Reds and the Americans both used biological weapons on a major battle on the backstory. Unfortunately, the weapons combined and mutated, turning into a super-virus that killed almost everybody... and in more ways than one, the dead were the lucky ones.
- In Name Only: Not even that really. But in the original book it's vampires, not mutants, Neville is an everyman, not a scientist-soldier and it's a lot more morally ambiguous.
- Infant Immortality: Children have an immunity to the plague, but it wears off when they get older.
- It Won't Turn Off: "THERE IS NO PHONE RINGING!"
- Last of His Kind: Initially, Neville thinks he is.
- Obliviously Evil: The Family are convinced that Neville is the real evil one because his use of technology.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Matthias and Neville's exchangeMatthias: You are discarded. You are the refuse of the past.Neville: You are full of crap.
- Sole Surviving Scientist: Robert Neville.
- Wall Slump: Neville, in a fountain at the end after being wounded by Matthias. Combined with Crucified Hero Shot.
- Would Hurt a Child: Richie goes to the Family's base and tells them that Neville is working on a cure for their disease. Mathias kills him and leaves his dead body for display on said base.