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:
- Albinos are Freaks: The Family is a collection of "survivors" of the Artificial Plague that destroyed the world, who's exposure to said plague turned them albino. In addition to not being able to physically withstand any strong lights, it's mentioned the plague will still kill them eventually, and the few completely uninfected survivors also think of them as things that should not be.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: At the climax, Lisa becomes a part of the Family.
- Apocalypse How: A not-quite-Class 3-the majority of humanity dies from the virus, and the few remaining survivors have mutated into insane albinos.
- 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 are a Browning Automatic Rifle with an early-model infrared scope and a Colt M76 sub-machine gun with a hand-made clip-on flashlight mount.
- Depopulation Bomb: The plague originated as a bioweapon deployed during a war between the Soviet Union and China and rapidly spread around the world.
- Disease Bleach: Albinism is a side-effect of being infected but still being alive. Kicks in instantly and just as instantly reverses when someone is cured.
- 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 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.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Downplayed. While he hasn't gone completely over the edge as supposedly the last man alive, Nevil is pretty damn close to it, to the point where he imagines a telephone ringing.Nevil: There is no phone ringing, DAMMIT!
- 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: At one point, Neville hallucinates that all of the phone booths on the street are ringing loudly. Leads to him covering his ears and bellowing in the way that only Charlton Heston could:Neville: "THERE IS NO PHONE RINGING!"
- Last of His Kind: Initially, Neville believes he's the last human alive, but finds out later that others survived - some more than others.
- Next Sunday A.D.: The war that leads to the release of the plague happens in 1975. The main part of the film takes place in 1977.
- Obliviously Evil: The Family are convinced that Neville is the real evil one because of his use of technology.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Matthias and Neville's exchange after the latter is captured by the Family.Matthias: You are discarded. You are the refuse of the past.\\Neville: You are full of crap.
- Sole Surviving Scientist: Robert Neville is the only person still alive with knowledge of how to develop a cure. He was successful when the world ended, but was forced to inject himself with the only sample to survive, and has spent all of the aftermath years working on replicating the vaccine from his blood.
- Wall Slump: Neville, in a fountain at the end after being wounded by Matthias and dying. Combined with Crucified Hero Shot when he finally passes away after giving the survivors his cure.
- 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.