I'm one of those people that sits through the credits at the movie theater. I don't need to know best grip or stuff like that, mostly I look at the writing credits and the music credits. After seeing the 2007 movie "I am Legend" starring Will Smith, I saw that the movie was "based on the novel by Richard Matheson." Many times the term "based on" is used very loosely, for example, look at the movie "Lawnmower Man" it was "based on" the story by Stephen King. It had so little to do with the Stephen King story that Stephen King wanted his name off the film, in fact it had NOTHING to do with the story.
That all being said, I thought the movie was very well done and wanted to read the book. Well let me tell you I was a bit let down in the fact that it was merely based on the novel. The character portrayed by Smith was named Robert Neville, as in the book. He was the last living human (sort of) and strange creatures were created by a disease. Those are the only similarities. Okay the basic survival storyline is similar also. But the zombies in the movie are actually vampires in the book.
As I was reading this book I was thinking, I've seen this movie, but not the Will Smith version. After awhile it dawned on me, I had seen the movie. The lead was played by Vincent Price. Yes the 1964 movie "The Last Man on Earth" was based on the novel. However in this case it was based less loosely. After some research I found that the 1971 Charleton Heston film, "Omega Man," was also based on the novel. Out of all three of the movies "The Last Man on Earth" was the one closest to the the book.
The 2007 version had zombies instead of vampires, the 1971 version went to a weird military protest view and had more than one man left on earth. But hey, that's Hollywood.
Okay here's what the actual book has, which, by the way, is a very good sci-fi/horror read while at the same time having something to say about humanity. "I Am Legend," the novel, follows the life of Robert Neville who is the last man alive on Earth after a disease has turned everyone else into vampires. The disease is a by-product of war. Neville spends his days restringing fresh garlic and hanging mirrors and crosses to keep the vampires at bay. His nights are spent drinking alone in his home turned fortress as the vampires bang on his door. One vampire in particular is a friend (back when he was human) and constantly taunts Neville to come out. Also during the days Neville drives through town finding supplies and killing the vampires, the sleep during the day after all.
After hitting his low point with the drinking Neville decides to try and find a cure for the disease. He soon learns the nature of the bacteria causing the vampirism that claimed humanity, including his wife and daughter. During his research he notices a stray dog, after feeding the dog and eventually gaining the dogs trust a little, Neville finally has a companion. Eventually the dog contracts the disease and Neville must work harder to find a cure.
Eventually Neville sees a woman (during daylight hours) and after some time he gains her trust, although he never fully trusts her. The drama then unfolds as the woman becomes more and more mysterious while at the same time fishing for information from him.
Without becoming too much of a spoiler, I will warn you that this book does not have the happy ending of the movies, but a very interesting view on the philosophies of humanity.