The I Am Legend Vampires Were Supposed To Look Much Different, Much Better

By Brent McKnight | Published

will smith i am legend 2

Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I Am Legend, has had quite the life. It inspired George Romero’s horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, and thus helped usher in the modern zombie.

Vincent Price had a go at the story with The Last Man on Earth. In 1971 the book was adapted for the screen as The Omega Man, a Charlton Heston vehicle where Anthony Zerbe plays a creepy albino vampire thing.

Then 2007 happened, with Will Smith and Frances Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) getting a hold of the title.

A Vampire from I Am Legend

The movie did well enough though there was some fun poked at the “vampires” in the movie who spent a lot of time standing in weird circles bopping up and down together. And while they didn’t go 1:1 vampire that was at least the implication.

As it turns out, in 1997 Ridley Scott, of Blade Runner and Alien fame, tried to jumpstart his own version of I Am Legend. He even hired Amalgamated Dynamics to create creature effects for the vampire-ish fiends from the story.

Here’s what the monsters from Ridley Scott’s I Am Legend could have looked like. Tell us these aren’t way better than what we got in the Will Smith version.

These practical monster effects look exponentially better than the digital nonsense they came up with for the 2007 version.

Whatever you think of the rest of the movie, those creatures looked like garbage and completely pulled you out of the world. They didn’t really convey the concept of vampires, but rather some albino baddies who you didn’t want near you, but weren’t sure why they were generally dangerous. Mostly, they just looked silly.

On the other hand, these above concepts are so damn creepy. You can’t help but shiver a little imagining these angular, emaciated faces appearing out of the shadows. Digital effects definitely have their place, but when it comes to close-up monster effects, it’s hard to beat practical applications.

It’s easy to see why these test I Am Legend vampires would have made for such a different movie. For starters, it’s unlikely these creatures would have kept the movie PG-13. With how terrifying they look, it stands to reason we would have trended Rated-R just from the looks of things.

A Vampire and Will Smith from I Am Legend

Makeup artists Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis were approached to work on the Will Smith film, but the production eventually went with an all-digital approach. Everyone loses.

For Scott’s version of I Am Legend, he hoped to team up with one Arnold Schwarzenegger. This would have been right around the time of G.I. Jane and White Squall, not the highest point in Scott’s career.

Wouldn’t that have been a good time, though: the Terminator roaming around a desolate wasteland, kicking the crap out of sinister baddies? Oh, what could have been.

This is another good lesson in why practical effects still can very much win the day, even all of these years and technological advances later.

There is an I Am Legend 2 planned with Michael B. Jordan in the lead role. Maybe they fix this thing the second time around.