The last man alive must battle a planet of the dead.
Back of DVD:
Mark Dacascos (The Crow) stars as the lone survivor of a deadly plague doomed to an eternal battle with the mutant creatures that now control the Earth.
I have been meaning to check out some movies released by The Asylum for a long time now, but I had gathered that their brand of mockbuster was really quite atrocious; so bad that even bad movie fans steered clear. It wasn't until I read a favourable review of The Da Vinci Treasure over at the DTV Connoisseur that I decided to give them a chance, but the local releases were still to expensive and I don't ever get around to renting. Well luckily this month my favourite purveyor of cheap DVDs Flashback Entertainment released a whole bunch of Asylum movies for the excellent price of $2. At that price, I don't care how bad the movie is, I'll check it out.
As you've probably guessed, I am Omega is a rip off of I am Legend (which was a rip off of Omega Man, and Last Man on Earth before it) and was released to DVD in the US the same month that the Will Smith movie hit the cinema. Instead of Will Smith though we get martial artist Mark Dacascos, a proper B-movie action star from movies like American Samurai and Kickboxer 5. This is also my first Mark Dacascos movie for the blog.
A mother is frantically packing her suitcase and organising her son for a quick escape in their car for reasons unknown. Those reasons are made apparent when the woman's skull is cracked open by a zombie creature, her body sliding down the windscreen with an amusing sqqueeeeaaakk sound effect. The son tries to help but is also knocked off.
Awaking from a bad dream, Dacascos composes himself. Hearing noises outside, he grabs his machete and pistol (as you do) and finds three zombies lurking; one he dispatches with a quick shot to the head, another's head he cuts off and the last gets caught in a trap. This is obviously a common occurrance and Dacascos goes back to sleep. His radio alarm clock starts going nuts which upsets Dacascos who shouts "There is no radio!". Instantly the radio shuts up. I guess we are meant to understand that the poor guy is getting a but unstable, what with all the zombie killings and such.
I actually really liked the first half hour. Dacascos didn't say a damn word. It's not that when he spoke he ruined the movie, he was adequate, it's just that the build up at the beginning was good in the same way that Cast Away had Tom Hanks going crazy and talking to a basketball, Dacascos has a mannequin he talks to. There was also very little music and limited sound (just the zombie splattering), probably all for budgetary reasons, but this helped the atmosphere a lot. He spends most of the time driving to various locations in the city and attaching what look like timed explosives to strategic points. He also goes on with a daily routine, stopping in at a store being manned by a corpse and buying beer, leaving the money on the counter. We also get a training montage!
Dacascos keeps checking his email in the first act. Let's forget the fact that he has electricity, that he has a working phone line, an Internet connection and that there are still working email servers in this post-apocalyptic world. He ignores the messages a few times. You can tell in his eyes that he is scared of what might happen if he opens them up. Dacascos probably hasn't talked to a human for years at this point. He finally does though and sees a woman on her webcam - Brianna - who in her excitement to see someone, freaks Dacascos out so much he falls off his chair and hides in the corner of the room. Eventually he talks with her and learns that her blood contains the cure to the zombie plague. He also learns that there is a new city in the mountains run by the military where the survivors are gathering.
The next day these two guys, Mike and Vincent, who say they are from the new city come by to visit Dacascos. They have monitored his communications with Brianna and want his help in locating her so they can use her blood to cure the plague. He disagrees so they blow his house up with a handy bazooka! We don't see any explosion though due to the complete lack of budget, the director just stops filming behind Dacascos and we have to use our imaginations. Homeless, he now agrees to help find Brianna and the journey begins.
The leading lady Brianna (Jennifer Lee Wiggins) was pretty crap, though I'm putting that down to her lines and not her skills. In fact the whole 'rescue the damsel in distress' plotline wasn't very convincing. So Mike and Vincent needed Dacascos to find Brianna because he knew the city tunnels? I thought this was pretty funny because all we saw was one sewer pipe. Shit I could have found her there. And they found her in a pet shop in anyway. Confusing. She does get a small comic moment when Dacascos prevents her, twice, from shooting a zombie at close range.
Let's talk about the best part of the movie, the zombies. Now technically they are infected humans from some sort of plague we don't hear about, but they are far more brutal and bloodthirsty like a Romero zombie, and not like the hooded vampires from Omega Man, and certainly not like the CGI "Mummy" travesties from I Am Legend. The makeup was actually pretty good, for the most part. The zombies turn up at random intervals to attempt to chew on Dacascos, but he always thwarts them. There's a few good kills and Dacascos kicks a few zombies in the head. In one scene he takes on five of them with his nun-chucks as if they were an 80's movie Latino knife gang ("I'm so fuckin' tired of you bitches!"). There's also a machete to skull and, my favourite shown in the trailer below, when Dacascos puts his shotgun in the zombies mouth and blows its head clear off.
I understand with Asylum pictures that the production never meets the expectations aluded to by the cover. I quite like their cover artworks, they are polished in a SciFi channel kind of way, which you would think would be enough reason to stay away from these movies. The cover for Alien vs. Hunter shows different aliens to what you get in the movie (some sort of spider creature). On I Am Omega we see Renchard (Dacascos) standing on top of a truck with a shotgun, defending himself against an army of infected zombies. This isn't that inaccurate but what we are seeing is the Star Wars 1997 version of the Han Solo chasing after the Stormtroopers scene - friggen hundreds of them. What you actually get in the movie is the Star Wars 1977 version - five. Other than that, a good cover.
Not a bad first look into the works of The Asylum. The movie got worse as it continued and the ending was stupid - there's even a Weekend at Bernies moment - but it was nowhere near the disc coaster I was expecting. And there were a few decent kills. I look forward to my next adventure with The Asylum.
The picture is sharp and clear as all shot-on-HD films generally look and the stereo soundtrack is fine, but there is a strange anomaly that I assume is part of the movie and not the disc. The top 1/4 of the picture has a gradient that goes from dark to light, down the screen. I assumed this was a cheap attempt to alter the skies appearance but they left it on all the time, inside rooms, cars and at night. Not sure what was going on there but it was a little distracting; I thought my TV was failing. Runtime 87 minutes.
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