Following a devastating international germ war, a scientist must battle a gang of antitechnology crusaders to save mankind. [ The Omega Man credits: Dir: Boris Sagal/ Charlton Heston, Rosalind Cash, Anthony Zerbe/ 98 min/ SciFi-Fantasy, Action-Adventure/ Creator as Hero]
“One creature, caught—caught in a place he cannot stir from in the dark, alone, outnumbered hundreds to one, nothing to live for but his memories, nothing to live with but his gadgets—his cars, his guns, gimmicks—and yet the whole family can’t bring him down … that creature of the wheel, that lord of the infernal engines: the machines.” Thus is described one of the last surviving scientists, whose efforts to save what remains of the human race are reviled by the very people he might save.
Unlikely as this premise may seem, it’s based on the very real public tendency to throw the scientific baby out with the bath water. Cars cause pollution, therefore get rid of cars. Small is beautiful, etc. In this film the surviving public’s logic is similar: science has been used to destroy human life, therefore destroy science. Fortunately, the scientist hero has a better idea. What makes the film all the more delicious is that at the head of the rabble opposing him is none other than a former television news anchor.
At times the production seems slightly low-budget and it has something of a 1970s flavor. But it’s such a good story, so full of suspense and action, and Charlton Heston is so convincing in his part, that everything else will go unnoticed.
My favorite line occurs near the end of the film, when the scientist has apparently been defeated. As he lies at the feet of his hideous captors, ready for death or torture, he quips: “Tell me something. Are you fellas really with the Internal Revenue Service?”
“The Omega Man is an extremely literate science-fiction drama starring Charlton Heston as the only survivor of a worldwide bacteriological war, circa 1975. Thrust of the well-written story [adapted from Richard Matheson’s novel] is Heston’s running battle with deranged survivors headed by Anthony Zerbe.”