Creepy vampire makeup tests show what Ridley Scott’s unmade I Am Legend could have looked like. While the Will Smith version of I Am Legend from 2007 may be the most famous adaptation of Richard Matheson’s acclaimed vampire novel, it wasn’t the first. The original version was 1964’s The Last Man On Earth, starring Vincent Price. While this adaptation suffered from a low-budget it boasted a great performance by Price and George Romero admitted it was a big inspiration on Night Of The Living Dead.
Charlton Heston led a new take on the novel with The Omega Man, playing a scientist trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic L.A. While the movie is a cult favorite, it had little to do with the book and replaced the vampires with a race of albino mutants. Ridley Scott later became attached to an I Am Legend remake in 1997, with Arnold Schwarzenegger lined up to play the last man on Earth. Scott intended to make an art film masquerading as a blockbuster, with the movie featuring very little music or dialogue. The studio soon became concerned about the darkness of the project and its lack of action, and later cancelled it due to an escalating budget.
It took close to a decade for I Am Legend to finally appear, with Michael Bay and Guillermo del Toro considered for the director’s chair before Francis Lawrence (Red Sparrow) signed on. Scott’s unmade version is considered one of the great, unmade sci-fi movies, and now special makeup effects artist Alec Gillis has revealed vampire tests for the project on Instagram. Scott based his vampire designs on wax figures and wanted them to appear incredibly emaciated and ghoulish.
View this post on Instagram
Ridley Scott’s version of I AM LEGEND was to have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and featured ‘hemocytes’ realized as makeup characters. I think we did our design exploratory in about 1997 ( is that right @h2originals ?) Ridley was influenced by wax figures from the 17th century. We did a test on a single female subject to show her in a few stages of emaciation. The appliance pieces were sculpted by Steve Koch and applied by @Tom_woodruffjr , myself and Barry Koper. Shortly after we shot the test at ADI Warner’s decided not to make the movie. The budget was coming in 10 mil higher than desired. It all got shelved until the Francis Lawrence/ Will Smith version years later. We did get an interview on that version but there was next to no interest in makeup fx. Contribbing sculptors were @schellsculpturestudio and Jeff Boccaccio. Tech work helmed by @h2originals. Paint by Mike Larrabee.
Scott’s I Am Legend sounds like it could have been one of the most intriguing blockbusters of the 1990s, but the cost of the bleak, R-rated project proved to be too much for Warner Bros. The studio was also coming off the back of a number of costly flops like Sphere and Batman & Robin and they also cancelled Tim Burton’s Superman Lives during this period. The movie would have given Schwarzenegger a chance to subvert his action hero persona too, but the movie’s cancellation freed Scott up to make Gladiator instead, which revived his career after a number of box office disappointments.
The success of Will Smith’s I Am Legend led the studio to develop a follow-up - despite Smith’s character dying at the end. A sequel concept featured the character being cloned and a prequel found him leading survivors to Washington and fighting off a vampire elephant. Lawrence later admitted they couldn’t crack the idea, and he’s glad a follow-up didn’t ultimately happen. There was talk of an I Am Legend reboot in 2014 but nothing has been heard about that project since.
Source: Alec Gillis