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, and Will Smith and Frances Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) got a hold of the title.
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.
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 pull you out of the world. On the other hand, these 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.
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.