planettom (planettom) wrote,

The Last Man on Earth --- and that weird tower

I'd never seen the 1964 Vincent Price movie THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. It was the first filmed version of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I AM LEGEND. Followed by Charlton Heston's 1971 THE OMEGA MAN, and Will Smith's 2007 I AM LEGEND. But it's on my Comcast free On-Demand movies right now, due to Turner Classic Movies showing classic horror movies each Wednesday evening in October for Halloween. It airs on Turner Classic Movies on October 31st, Halloween, at 2:30 PM ET. Here's the full October 2012 schedule for TCM.

As with all versions of this, the most fascinating part is about the first hour of the film, following the eponymous character being The Last Man On Earth --- wandering through an empty cityscape, scavenging for supplies, making sure to be back in his stronghold by sundown each night before the vampires/zombies come out. The movie is often listed as an inspiration for George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

The movie is set in America, but it was actually filmed in Rome. One part struck me in particular as unusual --- Vincent Price walks out of his suburban neighborhood, and wanders by this strange tower:

It'd be weird in 1964 America, or in 1964 Italy, to have this in your background. It was 1964 --- we weren't living in a Jetsons future. In fact, it seems a little incongruous in the movie. My assumption is, the director found the building so visually interesting, he couldn't resist including it.

For whatever reason, I'm fascinated with flying saucer-type houses - see my 2011 post here about the Chemosphere.

So I set out to try to figure out where in Rome this building was located, if indeed it still existed, 48 years later.

It's a bit of a challenge --- googling on variants of "flying saucer tower in Rome" doesn't get you where you want to go. But I finally found this reference on the Bright Lights film blog, which didn't reveal its location, but illustrated that the tower also appears in the 1962 Michelangelo Antonioni film L'ECLISSE.

But some more Google Image searching brought me to this Dance Language of the Honey Bee post, where I learned it was called the EUR Tower.

EUR is a suburb of Rome originally planned to be the site of the 1942 World's Fair, until World War II came along. Then in 1960 it was the site of the Olympics Village.

EUR Tower, off of "Piazza Pakistan" in Rome.
Google Earth: 41 49.464' N 12 27.776' E

Here's how it looked in 2010.

Looks a bit different, with the addition of what looks like a cell phone tower on top.

But it confirms what I thought --- this wasn't just some strange tower in a suburban neighborhood. So, I can't help but think, rather than just an ordinary house, Vincent Price might have done better to make this his stronghold ---- it looks like a pretty good defense position against the nightly horde of vampires/zombies!
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